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Office 2013's unhealthy obsession with an internet connection

Posted on 17 Oct 2012 at 13:39

Simon Jones wonders if Microsoft's latest Office suite puts too much emphasis on connectivity

Much of Microsoft's own publicity for Office 2013 has concentrated on its connectivity.

The applications try to coax you into storing your documents online in SkyDrive or Office 365, and there are new tools to insert pictures taken from online sources. Microsoft even makes it rather difficult to find a standard install package for the preview version, instead pushing users towards a trial of Office 365 with a subscription to Office 2013 Professional or Home Premium. Sitting here in the wilds of Devon, I can't help wondering whether this risks leaving some users behind.

Microsoft obviously believes everyone nowadays has constant Wi-Fi coverage wherever they are

The File | Save As command, for example, now interposes an extra step whereby you can choose SkyDrive, Other Web Location or Computer, but if you don’t currently have an internet connection then most of these options are useless to you.

Microsoft obviously believes everyone nowadays has constant Wi-Fi coverage wherever they are, and that if they don’t have Wi-Fi then they’ll have a good 3G signal or 3G dongle for their computer.

However, the place where I'm currently holidaying in Devon has no Wi-Fi, and getting a decent 3G signal would be a miracle (we’re lucky if we can get a one-bar GPRS signal for more than two minutes at a time). I can only collect email on my phone twice a day, when I walk the dogs to the top of the hill.

Apart from us deep country dwellers, there’s definitely a whole class of mobile workers who won’t have internet coverage all the time, and another class of users who won’t want to trust online data storage, preferring to rely on their own hardware for security, confidentiality or simply for robustness.

I don’t think I’d like to visit a client’s site and have to rely on retrieving a vital document from the cloud – I’d much prefer to know that it was safely stored on my own hardware. I might have a backup in the cloud, or employ it to synchronise files between computers, but I’m not about to rely on it for all my storage needs anytime soon.

As Windows is able to determine whether or not it has a network connection, might it not be a good idea for Office to take notice of this rather than offering options that lead to the dead-end message "YOU’RE NOT CONNECTED TO A NETWORK". Have you only just worked that out?

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User comments

Issue?

I see no issue here other than MS providing more options for a connected world. If they didn't then people might complain that they're not adding enough facilities. Damned if you do...

By rhythm on 17 Oct 2012

Issue?

I see no issue here other than MS providing more options for a connected world. If they didn't then people might complain that they're not adding enough facilities. Damned if you do...

By rhythm on 17 Oct 2012

Apple does this too and I hate it

TextEdit on Mountain Lion keeps on wanting to save stuff in the cloud too. Every time I save a text file, I have to choose My Mac instead of iCloud. It's not peculiar to Microsoft.

By John_Greythorne on 17 Oct 2012

@rhythm

Depends on if you can disable it, it might be an annoyance to ALWAYS get a skydrive prompt if you never use it.

By tech3475 on 17 Oct 2012

it's not that much of an annoyance

I'm currently using the preview of office 2013, and actually like it a lot more than 2010 (which we've only just moved to).

Whilst I agree with a lot of the article (such as not wanting to store my private documents in the cloud) - the actual act of saving isn't an annoyance nor something you'd actually want (or be able to) disable. Its just a full screen choice of where you want to store, with skydrive at the top, followed by other web locations, then your computer. You are also shown your most recent folder locations alongside this, making it much simpler and more intuitive than before.

By joecool12 on 17 Oct 2012

But have the fixed numbering yet?

It is all very well adding new and good looking stuff but has, for instance, the core usage been fixed? I refer to the way in which numbering tending to fall apart between saves and it is reformatted to add unwanted indents, etc.
Also have they listened to people who use the products and prefer not to have to use two or three clicks to work their most frequent actions?

By mikescki on 18 Oct 2012

Office 2010 Internet help shambles

I’ve got 50 meg connection and develop using Access 2010. The help system is connected to the web but it’s the most useless badly written piece of junk I’ve ever come across. I now use Google and woe the day I ever clicked that blue question mark.
Just because its internet enabled doesn’t mean its any good, far from it.

By dholbon on 25 Oct 2012

So what about when you are on a network?

With a server? And everything should be saved on the server?

But I fricking hate this assumption that now everything has to be in the cloud.

I have building surveyors with documents that are 50 meg plus reports - Imagine trying to save that *up* to the cloud. It's not going to be inconsequential loading it either.

SFT = Cloud

By JulesWilko on 27 Oct 2012

cloud...fog more like.

we all know at the back of this shove into the cloud, its marketing Fog designed to obscure the Willo the Wisp luring of all software users into the constant vampiric blood letting that is subscription based software and services.

Yes it has its benefits, and the more dynamic your workspace and devices the easier it can be to run with the cloud, but the only driver behind the whole thing is to leech a fiver out of your pocket every month, in every year of the rest of your life.

Microsoft tried subscription, tablets and apps back in the days of Internet Explorer 4 and its first Browser Bar with Active Desktop and Channels.

This irritating bar never died, and came back as the Sidebar in Vista, and now has basically hijacked the desktop on Windows 8 to infect the whole screen with its delightful stock tickers, weatherbugs and other "essential life supportware."

They've had corporations leasing on fussy and clunky leasing and rental agreements for decades, changing the system more often than the wind.

I look forward with delight to the arrival of Bio-implants and the squabbles we will have to upgrade our kids to the latest Bios rentals, dreamcasts, personalityware et al.

Hey ho, or perhaps that should be Hive Ho!

By Gindylow on 24 Nov 2012

always looking for the negative

I thought you guys were the experts? Go into Options>Save and tick the box "Save to Computer by default" (or words to that effect) and set the main directory you want to be taken to. Then works as it always did.

Typical negative article. Giving you the OPTION to save to Skydrive is a good thing, but easy to bypass (without losing the option) if you wish to.

By cooloox on 9 Apr 2013

A fiver out of your pocket every month

I laugh at comments like that. If you are a casual user then just buy a copy. If you like the latest version as it comes out, the subscription works out WAY CHEAPER, at least here in Australia. People do love to complain about everything. Write your own software if can't be satisfied. You might learn about the value of software!!

By cooloox on 9 Apr 2013

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Simon Jones

Simon Jones

Simon is a contributing editor to PC Pro. He's an independent IT consultant specialising in Microsoft Office, Visual Basic and SQL Server.

Read more More by Simon Jones

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