We’ve written extensively in the past about detail-specific tips, tricks, apps, and add-ons for Microsoft Office programs like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. But the powerful Office productivity suite, which still claims 80 to 96% of worldwide user share almost 25 years after its release, has undergone some major changes in the last couple of years.
First, there was the release of Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud platform, in 2011. Office 365 includes hosted Exchange email, unlimited online file storage via OneDrive, web meetings, Internet calls, and videoconferencing through Lync, intranet through SharePoint, and browser-based versions of Word and Excel. The service has seen considerable adoption, attracting 1 million users 100 days after its release—and over 7 million as of October 2014.
The top three most common arguments for Office 365 over more standard versions of the software are as follows:
1) Cost. Office 365 plans range from $5 to $20 per user per month, while the software bundle of Office 2013 Home and Business is $219.99, while Office 2013 Professional is $399.99.
2) Updates. If you’ve ever lost productivity time to a critical Microsoft Office software update, you’ll appreciate this one. Office 365 stays continuously patched and upgraded with the most current version of Office thanks to its reliance on cloud software. That way you get the benefits of Office without the headache of maintaining it.
3) Accessibility. This is perhaps the strongest argument for Office 365: your Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint documents live in the cloud, which means you can access them anywhere with an Internet connection, with any device. Small businesses that use SharePoint or Active Directory can really benefit from this advantage.
Yet Microsoft Office 365 hasn’t totally replaced standard versions of Microsoft Office Professional. Sales of the software to businesses grew about 8% last year, while consumer revenue increased by 7% in Q3 2014; some estimates say Office accounted for nearly $26 billion of Microsoft’s total $87 billion in revenue last fiscal year.
With such a firm grasp on market share, Microsoft was able to make an even more revelatory announcement about Office: on Nov. 6, the world’s largest software company said it would start releasing comprehensive mobile editions of Office for free on iPads, iPhones, and Android tablets. Now users will have enhanced Office capabilities available at their fingertips, on the go, and on nearly any device.
Microsoft’s executive team, particularly new CEO Satya Nadella, made it clear that they recognized the need to make Office available for non-Windows devices and operating systems. That will help the software giant keep pace with the rapid transformation of mobile and cloud computing—and possibly increase their already-strong market share in the process. “We’d like to dramatically increase the number of people trying Office,” John Case, corporate vice president of Office marketing at Microsoft, told the New York Times. “This is about widening the funnel.” Admitting it represented a major shift in strategy for Microsoft, Case added, “This is not a small change.”
Of course, even the new free varieties of Office will have limited capacities; businesses looking to maximize their use of the most powerful productivity software suite in the world are still advised to use full versions of Microsoft Office or Office 365. Any new offering like this can also lead to confusion, which is where CMIT Solutions comes in.
As a Microsoft partner, we have access to high-level technical resources that can make all the difference in your use of Office. And as a trusted business advisor, we can simplify all this new information into a format that focuses on problems and solutions, not products and software titles, and a format that speaks directly to your needs. Contact us today if you need help navigating the changing landscape of Microsoft Office.