Microsoft shortchanges Office for Mac customers on support

24 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Microsoft Office update emphasises collaboration.

SEATTLE — Microsoft has released a major update for one of its most successful products, Office, which will incorporate Internet-connected features such as Skype and the Cortana digital assistant in both its cloud and packaged versions. Microsoft India on Wednesday said it would target start-ups, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and e-commerce companies to increase subscription bases among business users.Los Angeles: Microsoft Office 2016 went on sale on Tuesday, bringing real-time collaboration, improved Skype integration and quick access to many options to the suite that includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Microsoft has added real-time co-editing to its Web apps in 2013 and has now added it to the desktop app so the users can collaborate without opening their browser.

The Office 2016 versions of Microsoft’s popular word-processing, spreadsheet and email programs are heavy on collaboration tools that let people share information and work together online. “These latest innovations take another big step forward in transforming Office from a familiar set of individual productivity apps to a connected set of apps and services designed for modern working, collaboration and teamwork,” chief executive Satya Nadella said in a statement. But Microsoft, which has seen longtime customers turn to Google, Apple and others for word processing, spreadsheets and other competing apps, says Office 2016 will improve on older versions.

According to The Next Web, the new version focuses on collaboration deeply for the first time, to make Microsoft truly competitive with modern cloud-based document editing apps. As you start typing on a Word document, for instance, the letters immediately appear on your collaborator’s screen, with a flag showing you as the author. As Barb Darrow noted on Fortune.com, Microsoft was more than a decade behind in locating the so-called cloud, that metaphorical place software programs now reside.

Competitors including Google have offered this feature in their online editing software, and Microsoft has had a version of it in the Web version of Office. More and more small businesses are opting for our subscription services and it is set to rise,” said Tyler Bryson, general manager (marketing and operations). Outlook now with a new Office 365 Groups feature allows the users to see shared inboxes, calendars and notebooks within the app and the app has received a big performance bump for ‘live search’ which is much faster. The company has been focusing more of its engineering on the Office 365 cloud-based versions of Office, where customers can get monthly updates without installing and maintaining the software onsite. According to Microsoft, with a majority of people use mobile devices like mobile phones and tablets, the company is focussing on “reinventing productivity and business processes for the mobile-first, cloud-first world”.

Since the initial features won’t work in every program at launch, Tuesday’s release can be viewed as planting a flag, Villaron said, showing the direction Microsoft is heading. The central thrust of its new Office offering is a series of collaboration tools, including Groups, an application that lets Office users work with each other in real time on Office documents. Still, only about a quarter of commercial Office customers are using the cloud version this year, meaning Microsoft needs to keep apps in the packaged version updated and modernised. New tools like Sway, a way to make instant PowerPoint presentations, and Planner, an app to manage projects, could be hits — but only if they’re spotted.

The company knows who the collaboration leader is, a Silicon Valley company called Slack. “We see this as a kind of Slack killer for organizations that use Outlook,” says Chris Capossela, Microsoft’s chief marketing officer, in an interview coinciding with the launch of Office 2016. “Slack is small, but it’s big with startups,” Capossela said. “It’s a darling of Silicon Valley,” he adds, noting that major corporations with old and young employees, all using Microsoft’s Outlook email program, need a collaboration program that makes everyone comfortable. I’ve long maintained that Microsoft, not LinkedIn LNKD -0.24% , should have had the most useful contact-management applications, and I’ve been befuddled to watch Microsoft consistently refuse to take the bait LinkedIn dangled in front of it. Instead of static attached files, which might miss changes made since they were sent, workers can link to a file that will always contain the latest version. Most important for Microsoft’s future, he’s pushing to get people to pay more for Office, and pay more regularly, than the usual $150 for a new version every few years. With this version, the company hopes to wade off competition that it is facing from players such as Google, which has a software bundle called Drive suite, and softwares such as OpenOffice and LibreOffice, which have on offer several of the same features MS Office has for no cost at all.

With Office 365, a service that starts at $7 (Dh25.7) a month and includes online versions of the apps, users get monthly updates: New Excel chart types, new co-working tools, more tie-ins with the Cortana virtual assistant app and other enhancements based on user feedback. Users can verbally ask Cortana, Microsoft’s artificial-intelligence-based assistant, to find a particular file or email, and the Bing search engine is integrated so that hovering over a word brings up a menu of choices, including Web search. We have teams on many of the Fortune 500 companies, a near monopoly among news media and tech, do very well in creative industries, and we also have customers in government, including the State Department, General Services Administration, and NASA.

It has got rid of the annoying assistant ‘Clippy’, which was part of the older version, and now features ‘Tell Me’, which is present in Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, Project, Visio and Access. Amy Hood, Microsoft’s chief financial officer, described Office 365 as “critical” because a deeper, consistent relationship with customers makes it easier to sell them add-ons or additional services. Consumers are important to the company, though. “We want the future CEOs of Facebook to be using Office.” Microsoft also has been abnormally active creative apps for Apple’s iOS platform. A new search box called Tell Me on PowerPoint, Word and Excel lets you search for a feature — say “Columns” — and immediately pull up the relevant menu.

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