New MS Office Could be the Killer app for Windows 8
There are lots of arguments going in favor of and against upgrading to Windows 8. The criticism we’ve received from various CEOs (see pg. 23) against upgrading to it revolves around lack of killer features, usability issues of the new UI, and the fact that you can access pretty much anything from a web browser, so why upgrade to a new OS? Possibly, many of these questions could be answered by looking for the killer app for Windows 8. That’s required for the success or failure of any product. Email was the killer app of the Internet, multi-touch was the killer app of tablets, GUI and ease of use were the killer apps of Windows 95, and so on. For Windows 8, the killer app could well be the latest version of MS Office, called the New Office now, but will be called just Office without any version when it’s launched.
A lot has happened to Office ever since MS released its early preview in July this year. The product has finally gone RTM, with general availability in first quarter of 2013.
The New Office amplifies the integrated experience of Windows 8, because it will be accessible and usable from any Windows 8 based device—smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop, and work is underway to make it work across Android and iOS devices as well. It would be usable with any input device—touch, stylus, mouse, and keyboard. It ties closely with the cloud, allowing users to share documents and collaborate on them via Microsoft SkyDrive. Third, it will allow greater control, like simultaneously running a previous version of Office on the same machine. No uninstall necessary.
The signature apps of Office—Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, etc have lots of new features to enhance productivity. Briefly, Outlook helps you look-up contacts not only from your local address book, but from your social media IDs as well. It helps understand your contacts better by showing their social media activity. MS Word will allow PDF documents editing, though we’re not sure which PDF creators’ PDFs will be supported since PDFs can be created from so many apps. Excel’s split cell functionality becomes more intelligent, recognizes your splitting patterns and let’s you imitate them across other cells. Creation of graphs will be easier and require fewer clicks. PowerPoint will give two different views for presenter and viewers, with the former being able to see slide notes, next slide details, time duration passed, etc.
Besides great features, there are some concerns as well. New Office will not work on Win XP, because the OS has reached end of life. Interestingly, nothing is mentioned about its availability for Windows Vista either. The cloud storage facility is currently limited to SkyDrive only, so users of Dropbox, Google Drive, etc will have to hope that some ISV will create third party plug-ins and solutions for them.
Details on licensing cost, SOUs, etc haven’t yet been disclosed, but there are free upgrade entitlements depending upon the license and Software Assurance plan you’ve taken from Microsoft. Do try out the customer preview yourself at http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/en and send us your feedback.