Subscription focus in MS Office 2013

2013-02-05 13:00
Microsoft Office 2013 Home Premium. (Microsoft)

Microsoft Office 2013 Home Premium. (Microsoft)

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Cape Town - Microsoft is taking a new direction with its popular Office suite of applications: It wants to become a subscription service.

"The most important thing for us is that this is the first time we're actually offering Office as a subscription service," said Uriel Rootshtain, head of the Office business at Microsoft South Africa.

The new Office 2013 software follows the launch of the Windows 8 operating system designed to tablet mobility and Microsoft has re-engineered applications like MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook to exploit internet cloud-based operations.

"You get all of the apps, but over and above that you also get premier services such as 20GB additional SkyDrive storage," he added.

Users of the SkyDrive service which is similar to Dropbox, usually get around 7GB of online storage, but will receive an additional 20GB for signing into to Office, as well as 60 minutes of Skype world calling minutes per month.

Tablet devices

"That means that you can place calls to landline in 40 countries, and to mobiles in eight different countries," said Rootshtain.

Outlook has been re-engineered with social integration that users of the Windows Phones will be familiar: The software synchronises with social network calendars and contacts so that users can enable communication without going to the platform directly.

As a hint of the mobile direction that Microsoft has taken for its software, the Office program supports pen inputs as well as touch mode, suited to tablet devices.

Users have to sign into Office 2013 software with an account that enables cloud storage and document settings to be instantly available.

"It means that wherever I sign in, my profile, my settings, and even the documents and data that I've got stored in the cloud roam with me - they follow me wherever I go," Rootshtain said.

He dismissed criticism that reliance on an internet connection would limit the software's ability to function in SA, given the lack of penetration.

"I don't need an internet connection in order to be able to open the document because it's synchronised - I can access it offline and make changes. When the internet connection comes back, it will just synchronise those changes back into the cloud."

Productivity

A hero feature in Office resides in MS Excel which has a new FlashFill function that automates lists better than the previous version.

Rootshtain demonstrated the feature's ability to generate lists from data in the worksheet that should boost productivity.

"It's looking for patterns. If there's a pattern, it will match it, if there's no pattern, then it won't be able to match it."

The recommended retail price for Office 2013 Home Premium is R750 for an annual subscription and can be installed on up to five computers or Macs.

There is also an Office 365 University version for students, faculty, and staff, at a price of approximately R750 for a four-year subscription.

The subscription model may also reduce software piracy and Rootshtain defended Microsoft's policy.

"What that means is you'll get access to all the new updates and all the new releases whenever they become available, so you're always up to date - you don't have to re-purchase."


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