Feeds

Office 365: Can Microsoft replace Microsoft?

The desktop roadblock

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

When it comes to selling new versions of Office, Microsoft's toughest competitor isn't IBM or Google. It's Microsoft.

Typically, when Microsoft releases brand new version of its desktop productivity suite, large numbers of customers cling to the versions they already have. The old versions do exactly what they want, and the new features seem unnecessary.

Office 365 – due from Microsoft on Tuesday – is Redmond's latest attempt to shove enterprise holdouts onto a new version of its Office software. But this time, the carrot isn't BI integration or some obscure new button. It's the web.

With Office 365, Microsoft is finally trying to turn its productivity, email, and collaboration suite into a citizen of the net, with all the benefits that entails, including low costs and ease of administration.

Office 365 offers hosted versions of a family of server products launched by Microsoft last year: Exchange Online 2010, Lync Online 2010, and SharePoint Online 2010. Plus, you get Office Web Apps, a version of Office that runs in the browser.

But there's a catch. Office 365 is only marginally useful if you haven't licensed the desktop version of Office. You'll need either Office 2010 Professional Plus or Office 2007 SP2. Office 2003 – supported by BPOS, the percusor to Office 365 – is gone. Also out is the Office Communicator used with the Lync Server.

This time, Microsoft is pushing you towards the new desktop Office in a slightly different way. The existing Office 2010 Professional Plus is actually being sold with Office 365 service – but under a slightly different name and pricing model. It's called Pro Plus, and it's not something you own. You pay a subscription fee.

And there's another catch: not everybody can buy Office 2010 Professional Plus. It's only available to customers who spend relatively large amounts with Microsoft and who have enough PCs to qualify for Microsoft's volume-licensing-based Enterprise Agreement (EA). These big customers are often several years behind in adopting the newest version of Office.

Office Web Apps include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, but what you can do is limited. For instance, macros don't work in the web version of Excel, and Office Web Apps can only open documents on a SharePoint site, meaning the person you're collaborating with must run SharePoint as well.

In a further nudge towards the new, Office 365 won't run on Internet Explorer 6. You'll need IE7, 8 or 9; Safari 4 or later; Firefox 3 or later; or Chrome 3 or later. You can run Windows or Mac OS X. but Linux is not supported.

The cloud was meant to set us free from the shackles of buying, installing, and maintaining software here on earth. But Microsoft has more than $14bn tied up in its earth-bound Office franchise.

So while Office 365 might offer greater flexibility in terms of how and where your people work, it's been designed to complement desktop Office rather than replace it From Microsoft's perspective, it's a good hedge. Test the new without killing the old. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
NSA SOURCE CODE LEAK: Information slurp tools to appear online
Now you can run your own intelligence agency
Post-Microsoft, post-PC programming: The portable REVOLUTION
Code jockeys: count up and grab your fabulous tablets
Twitter App Graph exposes smartphone spyware feature
You don't want everyone to compile app lists from your fondleware? BAD LUCK
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
prev story

Whitepapers

Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.