Office 2013 in the cloud
Posted on 21 Sep 2012 at 11:58
Microsoft is embracing the cloud with Office 2013, with subscription models and online web apps.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer insists that Office 2013 is the company’s first product to be “designed from the get-go to be software as a service”, and there’s plenty of evidence to support this.
From cloud-based subscriptions for consumers, to Office applications “streamed” over the internet, to the full integration of SkyDrive and Skype, Office can no longer be accurately referred to as a desktop suite.
Office 365 for consumers
Business users of Office may already be familiar with Office 365: the online subscription suite that gives you access to both the desktop and web versions of the Office applications for a set monthly fee. That model is now being extended to consumers. In fact, if you sign up for the beta of Office 2013, you’ll be enrolled into a (currently free) subscription service called the Office 365 Home Premium Preview.
Office 365 Home Premium Preview allows you to install Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Access and Publisher on up to five PCs – and you don’t even need to wait for the software to finish downloading and installing on your first PC to get going with the new applications. This is down to a new feature called Office on Demand, which is available on both consumer and business subscriptions. It uses virtualisation to provide “streaming” versions of the full Office apps – not the feature-restricted Office Web Apps we’ve seen before – from the moment you click on the installer. So, you can start tapping out your first Word 2013 document within a minute or two of starting the download, even if the installation doesn’t complete for another half an hour or more.
The Office on Demand versions of the apps aren’t quite as responsive as a local installation, and we’d be wary of doing any heavy-duty work on them, such as embedding videos in PowerPoint slides or serious number crunching in Excel. Nevertheless, getting access to full-fat Office apps over even a modest broadband connection is impressive, and it isn’t only handy during installation.
If you’re working away from home without your regular PC or laptop, Office on Demand can be accessed from any Windows 7 or 8 PC, via this link. Click Create New, select your Office application of choice, and a streaming version of the app is “installed” onto your temporary PC home. It takes a minute or so to download the necessary files, but once this is complete, you get a full version of the app and access to any documents in your SkyDrive folders. We even managed to install an Office on Demand version of Word 2013 on an Atom-powered Windows 7 Starter netbook, and it was perfectly capable of lightweight document editing. Once you’ve finished your work, there’s no trace of the application or your documents on the host machine.
Office Web Apps
Alongside the new Office on Demand service, there are revamped versions of the browser-based Office Web Apps that were launched with Office 2010. These have been redesigned with the spartan, white ribbon interface that’s common across all the Office 2013 apps, but appear to be functionally identical to their predecessors. In other words, feature-stripped equivalents of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote that are usable only for viewing documents and light editing.
At around $2 per machine per month, the home version isn't a bad deal. I'll certainly be looking at it.
Having used the Preview, I certainly like the enhancements in Outlook
You put the "shared documents" down a bit in the review, I assume you mean SharePoint online services here? That is a little more than a communal file share. ;-)
By big_D on 24 Sep 2012
For more details about purchasing this feature and/or images for editorial usage, please contact Jasmine Samra on firstname.lastname@example.org
- Windows 10: release date, features, free update and cloud version
- iPhone 6 Plus "less likely to bend than HTC One"
- iPhone 6 Plus: Apple's had nine complaints over "bendgate"
- Does the iPhone 6 Plus bend?
- Adobe buys Aviary to open Creative Cloud to mobile
- iPhone 6 is toughest Apple handset yet
- Ellison steps down: but who's really running Oracle now?
- Amazon releases high-end Kindle Voyage Touch
- Sony warns of massive loss on smartphones
- Dropbox app doesn't work properly with iOS 8
- Windows 10: a step back to go forward
- Michael Dell: Cloud infrastructure is the roads, bridges and highways of the 21st century
- How to check your identity hasn’t been sold to the hackers
- Tim Cook: this is how much TV has changed since the 70s
- Westminster wins the .London battle
- 20 years of PC Pro: from deep pan pizza to virtualisation
- Five reasons why the Apple Watch leaves me cold
- Apple Watch, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus: Tim Cook's Apple back with a bang?
- BT Home Hub 5: how to get maximum speed
- 20 years of PC Pro: one-star reviews (including "the worst tablet we've ever seen")