Mi­crosoft to roll out over­hauled Of­fice

An­nual sub­scrip­tion among sell­ing points of re­vamped soft­ware suite


TORONTO • It’s been a mas­sively busy last few months for Mi­crosoft, which saw the com­puter gi­ant re­lease new op­er­at­ing sys­tems for PCs and mo­bile phones and its first-ever tablet, the Sur­face.

Now it’s the in­dus­try-stan­dard Of­fice soft­ware suite get­ting a ma­jor up­date, in­clud­ing a new op­tion to pur­chase an an­nual sub­scrip­tion in­stead of buy­ing a per­ma­nent copy.

There are mul­ti­ple op­tions for con­sumers, start­ing with buy­ing Word, Excel, Pow­erPoint, OneNote, Out­look, Pub­lisher or Ac­cess à la carte for $119 each. Of­fice Home & Stu­dent 2013 for use on one com­puter — which in­cludes Word, Excel, Pow­erPoint and OneNote — goes for $139. Of­fice Home & Busi­ness 2013 adds Out­look and sells for $249.

Then there’s the sub­scrip­tion-based Of­fice 365, which en­cour­ages users to save doc­u­ments on­line and edit them across up to five dif­fer­ent de­vices, in­clud­ing Mi­crosoft smart­phones and the Sur­face. It’s $10 a month or $99 a year.

“The pro­lif­er­a­tion of de­vices and the new re­quire­ments of (how peo­ple use) tech­nol­ogy is why the new ver­sion is so im­por­tant,” said Mi­crosoft Canada pres­i­dent Max Long in an in­ter­view.

“You’ll be able to have it across five dif­fer­ent de­vices, you choose which de­vices you want, you’ll be able to have the data fol­low you. I can take my notes on my tablet and when I’m go­ing out to see cus­tomers I can see the same doc­u­ment, the same in­for­ma­tion, on my mo­bile phone as well.”

Un­like Win­dows 8 — which has po­lar­ized PC users with its rad­i­cal new in­ter­face — Long prom­ises Of­fice users will need no ad­just­ment pe­riod for the new soft­ware.

“If you come in and look at (the new) Of­fice you’ll see a lot of sim­i­lar­i­ties and you’ll be able to go in there and be com­fort­able from the first us­age,” he said and in­sisted PC users are get­ting over the ini­tial shock of Win­dows 8 and adapt­ing.

Win­dows 8 got rid of the fa­mil­iar Start but­ton and hid the tra­di­tional Desk­top in­ter­face. In­stead, users are first pre­sented with a lay­out of tiles that re­sem­bles a tablet or smart­phone home screen. Users must click through that home screen to get to the Desk­top.

Mi­crosoft is an un­der­dog in the mo­bile world, a long ways away from chal­leng­ing Ap­ple and Google’s An­droid. But it is within strik­ing range of Re­search in Mo­tion’s share of the mar­ket and Long said Mi­crosoft’s strat­egy is to con­vince con­sumers of the mer­its of hav­ing a Win­dows op­er­at­ing sys­tem on all their com­put­ers and mo­bile de­vices.

“If you’re used to us­ing Win­dows 8 on your lap­top or you’re us­ing a Sur­face de­vice or an all-in-one (com­puter) at home, to have that same ex­pe­ri­ence and have the con­nected look and feel when you go to a Win­dows phone is really im­por­tant to a lot of folks,” Long said.

He’ll be paying at­ten­tion to RIM’s big Black­Berry 10 launch on Wed­nes­day, which is seen as a make-or-break moment for the Water­loo, Ont.-based com­pany.

“They’re a good Cana­dian com­pany and it would be to­tally re­miss of me not to pay at­ten­tion to what they’re an­nounc­ing and be en­gaged and un­der­stand what’s go­ing on,” he said.

“So yeah, I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing what they an­nounce and see­ing what they’re bring­ing to mar­ket.”

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