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Office 2013: Microsoft Cloud Era Begins In Earnest 241

Posted by timothy
from the click-here-to-subscribe dept.
snydeq writes "Microsoft's release of Office 2013 represents the latest in a series of makeover moves, this time aimed at shifting use of its bedrock productivity suite to the cloud. Early hands-on testing suggests Office 2013 is the 'best Office yet,' bringing excellent cloud features and pay-as-you-go pricing to Office. But Microsoft's new vision for remaining nimble in the cloud era comes with some questions, such as what happens when your subscription expires, not to mention some gray areas around inevitable employee use of Office 2013 Home Premium in business settings." Zordak points to coverage of the new Office model at CNN Money, and says "More interesting than the article itself is the comments. The article closes by asking 'Will you [pay up]?' The consensus in the comments is a resounding 'NO,' with frequent mentions of the suitability of OpenOffice for home productivity." Also at SlashCloud.
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Office 2013: Microsoft Cloud Era Begins In Earnest

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @12:46PM (#42728499)

    Pass.

  • In the end... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sprouticus (1503545) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @12:48PM (#42728533)

    Microsoft would be best served by making it free or nearly free for home use and subscription for business use. It is the same model they use for AV, and it works fairly well. Enterprise businesses need Enterprise level support and tools, they will pay because they have no choice.

    Sure, you will probably lose some small businesses, but they were not going to upgrade anyway.

    This way Office stays the defacto productivity suite, new users (kids) use it at home by default, and businesses have to either retrain every user on a new suite, or pay for office (hint, most will pay for office, no one likes being retrained).

    • by razorh (853659)

      hint, most will pay for office, no one likes being retrained

      Like most non-tech users felt going from Office 2003 -> 2007 -> 2010?

    • Re:In the end... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fermion (181285) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @01:22PM (#42729089) Homepage Journal
      MS is going to be competing with Google for the home user. I suspect that for the home user Google is good enough, and it is free. At one time many home users had free or inexpensive access to MS Office through enterprise licensing. I recall install such a free copy on my mothers machine years back. If such free licensing were still available, I could see home users accessing MS Office.

      In small business MS is going to competing with Google and OO.org and the derivatives.

      MS is still successful with MS Office due to file format lockin. You want to work with other firms, who are probably running MS Office.

      Although Apple Pages is not online, all storage is now online by default. This means that one can work off any Mac or iPad. Also you pay for Pages once and load on all Macs and iPad registered to your account. So there is that.

      • At one time many home users had free or inexpensive access to MS Office through enterprise licensing. I recall install such a free copy on my mothers machine years back. If such free licensing were still available, I could see home users accessing MS Office.

        The Microsoft Home Use Program [microsofthup.com] is still very much alive.

        HUP has a global reach and is multilingual.

        The current bundle is Office Professional Plus 2013, which includes Lync.

        Regional pricing varies a little, up and down. If you happen to be one of the sixty or so people living in the Pitcarin Islands, the cost is $15, plus S&H on the media. if required.

        Ars Technica had this to say about Office 365 Home Premium:

        Microsoft has done a lot to sweeten the pot to attract consumers into the subscription model, enlisting nearly everything but the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. While the lowest-cost perpetual-license version of Office 2013---Office 2013 Home and Student---is priced at just under $140 and includes the four core applications (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote), Office 365 Home Premium Edition comes with all of those applications plus the Outlook mail and calendar client, Access database, and Publisher desktop publishing tool.
        Home Premium also comes with licenses for five installs of the suite---including Office 2011 for Mac installs for those households with mixed operating system allegiances. Home and Student has been trimmed down to allowing just one installation per license. And as part of its subscription, customers will also get 60 minutes a month of Skype calls to phone numbers within the US (as Microsoft continues to position Skype as the consumer version of its Lync enterprise voice, video, and messaging service). And it comes with an additional 20 gigabytes of SkyDrive cloud storage.
        While you can install Office on five systems at once through Home Premium, where those five licenses are is fungible. You can manage which computers are actively using their Office user licenses from the account webpage, and you can shut off one to make room for another when necessary. That means your licenses can travel with you from computer to computer, and---at least theoretically, if you keep all your data in SkyDrive or a networked drive---you can be up and running with a new PC in a manner of minutes.

        Review: Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium Edition hopes to be at your service [arstechnica.com]

        Phrases like "

    • Because Ballmer is an idiot.

    • It's hard to imagine that non-business users will pay for this. I imagine that most home users will shell out $120 for the Home version of Office every 6 yrs or so. That's 1/6 of the subscription cost over the same period. I could see MSFT charging $10/month for non-business licenses to ALL MSFT products (including windows).

      • It's hard to imagine that non-business users will pay for this. I imagine that most home users will shell out $120 for the Home version of Office every 6 yrs or so. That's 1/6 of the subscription cost over the same period. I could see MSFT charging $10/month for non-business licenses to ALL MSFT products (including windows).

        I"ve come up with a better solution.

        I'm using Office 2003. It works just fine for what I need, it's already paid for so there's no additional costs and it doesn't have the stupid "ribbon" that renders programs unusable.

  • No thanks. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kenja (541830) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @12:49PM (#42728547)
    Even if I felt the need for a new version of Office, i will be avoiding cloud apps just as I did in the 90s when they where first tried. Frankly, there is big enough problem with applications (games for the most part) requiring an internet connect already without putting the whole thing out there. Even if we ignore the security issues, I dont want to have to be online inorder to work on a document.
    • by jkflying (2190798)

      Same. The only time I've found cloud apps useful is for collaboration projects where more than one person is working on the same document at a time and something like Hg/SVN won't work.

    • by mjr167 (2477430)

      I google drive because it works on the iPad and that is my biggest complaint about google drive. I can view the files in offline mode, but I can't edit them. So, why would I pay microsoft for something google gives me for free?

      Besides, don't they realize that we all buy one copy of office anyway and just install it on all our PCs? If google would let your edit offline and stopped sucking at formatting, I would never use MS word.

      • So, why would I pay microsoft for something google gives me for free?

        you are not the target market, which is idiots. However, as PT Barnum observed, there is one born every minute - it must be true: MS is still the market leader.

    • by Twinbee (767046)
      Wouldn't latency and lag be a nightmare for everyday operations like clicking buttons and entering menus? If not, then what part of the program is in the 'cloud'?
    • Re:No thanks. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Barlo_Mung_42 (411228) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @02:00PM (#42729647) Homepage

      That's not how it works. Everything I have in skydrive is synced to each of my systems. So my docs are always kept up to date yet are still available when I go off the grid.

    • I dont want to have to be online inorder to work on a document.

      Good news, that's not at all what office 2013 is. It's just adding extra features should you happen to be on an internet connection.

      Think sharepoint but not shitastic awful.

  • I realize needs differ, but Microsoft Works did everything I needed to do years ago. Thus far, the only reason to buy new versions of Office is being forced into compatibility with the suckers who bought the new version.
    • by gweihir (88907)

      Which is basically the only thing why MS does sell newer versions: Stupid people that cannot distinguish between "new" and "better". Unfortunately, many of them make it to management as they cannot do anything well.

  • What in the world do I get out of MS office, in or out of the cloud that I don't get in a basic office package of word processor, spreadsheet, presentation and drawing. Admittedly, the graphics package could be more user-friendly, but there are FOSS substitutes for that too. The bottom line is the bottom line. Money for MS Office or no money for OpenOffice.

  • by bogie (31020) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @12:58PM (#42728683) Journal

    "Only one person at a time may use the software on each licensed computer or licensed device. The service/software may not be used for commercial, non-profit, or revenue-generating activities."

    So if your kids want to use Word to make a Lemonade Stand sign so they can sell Lemonade for .05 a cup on the front lawn? Ilegal!

    Even worse your kids want to help out with Hurricane Sandy relief by making signs and posting them around the neighborhood telling people how they can help their local non-profit? Illegal!

    Or I guess you can't even print up an Ad that you plan on hanging in the local supermarket saying you have a couch for sale?

    Btw you wanna bet MS themselves hosts templates designed specifically for these activities?

    It's time we hold these companies accountable for the crap they shove in the TOS. What Microsoft is doing is BS and they need to be called on it. Feel free to email Microsoft and tell them that you wanted to buy Office 2013 but because their TOS make both you and your children criminals, you went with Openoffice etc instead.

  • by number17 (952777) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @12:59PM (#42728701)
    After actually reading the articles, I am still unclear about two things when your subscription expires:

    1) How long will I have access to my documents? According to current documentation for enterprises and small business:

    When a subscription is removed, all data is permanently lost.

    http://onlinehelp.microsoft.com/En-ca/office365-enterprises/hh143495.aspx [microsoft.com]
    http://onlinehelp.microsoft.com/en-ca/office365-smallbusinesses/hh143522.aspx [microsoft.com]

    2) Subscribers get an additional 20GB in Skydrive. What happens to my documents if I am using 100% of Skydrive (including the additional 20GB)? Is there a grace period?

    They don't make it easy to find the information to these questions. The answers are likely the same for any other cloud service that provides a free and paid offering but why do we have to guess.

    • by vlm (69642)

      When a subscription is removed, all data is permanently lost.

      Bwahh ha ha ha the black hats going to have fun cancelling businesses accounts.

      "Hi, its me, I just wanted to let you know that we've switched to apple macs so you cancel our accounts. Bye bye. Love, Ford Motor co" Really? Destruction of data is going to be just that simple?

      • I know this isn't what your point was getting at but why would switching to macs change anything? This is for both macs and pcs.

    • by gtirloni (1531285)
      1) From the documents you linked:

      When a subscription expires, the subscription enters a brief grace period during which administrators receive notification email messages and see alerts, when they log in to the Office 365 portal, that warn that the subscription will soon be disabled.

      ...

      If you do not renew the subscription, the subscription will soon be disabled; user accounts assigned to the expired subscription are disabled, and users are unable to access the expired subscription. However, administ
    • 1) I don't care. I would be fine if it was instantly made unavailable when the subscription runs out. My skydrive is fully synced at all times. If your only copy is in the cloud you get what you deserve when it rains.
      2) Buying more space is cheap.

    • I'm mystified as to why these questions keep getting asked, as the answers are blindingly obvious.

      How long will I have access to my documents?

      Until, at Microsoft's sole, arbitrary discretion, Microsoft says you no longer have access to them.

      What happens to my documents if I am using 100% of Skydrive (including the additional 20GB)?

      Whatever Microsoft, at its sole and arbitrary discretion, says happens to them at that particular random moment in time.

      Bottom line: if your data are only available on someone else's servers, especially those of a multi-convicted, monopolistic felon, you're already screwed. You just haven't yet woken up to that i

    • After using Google Drive for a while, it seems clear to me that the best way to operate is to have a local folder which automatically syncs to the cloud (pretty sure MS offers something like this too). This way you don't really have to worry about how long your access lasts because you have local copies of everything. I would hope that the new cloud-centric apps with collaborative features would do something like this in reverse... save to the cloud and sync locally.

  • Subscription software has no interest for me, and neither does storing stuff in the cloud.

    If you can't sell me stand-alone software that works and doesn't require on-going fees and access to your servers ... well, I'll just use someone else's software.

    I can't imagine most organizations wanting their Office docs in the cloud.

    • by jonbryce (703250)

      My PHB is very keen on moving everything to the cloud. He doesn't actually know what the cloud is or anything like that, he has just noticed it as a listed feature on a load of ads.

  • by rs1n (1867908) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @01:00PM (#42728725)

    ...will always be the user's internet connection -- not just in terms of being connected, but likely also having sufficient bandwidth. I can appreciate the usefulness of "cloud computing" -- which is really just an extension of dumb terminals and network storage packaged in this new buzzphrase. However, it really only makes sense in environments in which they have control over the network availability as well. Even Google Docs, with no price tag, is only as nice as my network connection.

    What this does for MS Office is that it now has a new form of DRM -- in the sense that you can only run office if you connect to Microsoft -- and they don' t have to advertise it as being DRM.

    • A lot of people work in situations where they cannot have internet access. I spend a lot of time on overwater airliners - typically no internet. I'm often in countries where internet access is unreliable, or untrustworthy. The facility where I work has areas where cell and wireless are not available.

      I cannot use cloud-only applications even if I wanted to, which I don't. I'm actually quite happy with the functionality of microsoft apps, but if they move to a cloud-only model, I will need to switch to some a

      • by gtirloni (1531285)
        The FAQ does not say it requires internet access to actually use the products in their original form (only to upgrade, manage account, save to SkyDrive, etc).

        http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/home-premium/#FAQs [microsoft.com]
        • by rs1n (1867908)

          The FAQ does not say it requires internet access to actually use the products in their original form (only to upgrade, manage account, save to SkyDrive, etc).

          Here is what the FAQ in your link says for the "cloud" version of office (i.e. Office 365):

          Internet access is required to install and activate all the latest releases of Office suites and all Office 365 plans.

          Internet access is also required to manage, update, and access subscription versions of Office, including Office 365 Home Premium. You need to go online to www.office.com/myaccount to manage your subscription account. For example, if you want to install Office on another PC or device, or to change billing options. You need to connect to the Internet regularly to keep your version of Office up to date and to benefit from automatic upgrades.

          Internet connectivity is also required to access the Office 365 additional features such as SkyDrive and Skype world minutes.

  • by OffTheLip (636691) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @01:00PM (#42728749)
    Many production networks never see the cloud, or a least no connection to the Microsoft cloud.
  • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @01:05PM (#42728807)

    Thought experiment - self destruction of the office suite... What would happen? My guess is a dramatic increase in productivity.
    1) Can't waste time on powerpoints
    2) Can't use Excel as the corporate database management system
    3) Can't use Word as the corporate database management system. Wordpad is good enough for the average user. In fact even wordpad has too many features for the average goofball.
    4) Can't produce meaningless made up metrics using excel
    5) Nobody uses outlook unless they have to, so I'd expect a dramatic surge in gmail popularity. Maybe g+/FB/twitter make some inroads into business communication. Linkedin should be paying attention at the change to intermediate themselves as a business social network.

    I'm seeing a distinct possibility of a dramatic upsurge in business productivity... either that ore more time spent in meetings and at the water cooler gossip. either way the world would be a better place without office suites.

  • If I wanted to rent software, I'd rent software. Micro$oft already has plenty of money, yet they want to suck more of it out of our pockets. No thanks, I'll just keep using old versions of Office I already have, and if it comes down to it I'll use FOSS instead. I'm a human being, damnit, not a revenue stream!
  • I hated the new interface that came with 2007 (Fluent User Interface) and 2010 was no improvement. I did not have a choice, though, because that is what they install on our work machines. And I just have to deal with it. With cloud services, when the provider updates the software in a way that disrupts productivity, who is held accountable? When Windows Vista came out, people had the option to not upgrade. But when everything is on the cloud, you don't have the choice to not upgrade anymore. What if you don
  • by fallen1 (230220) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @01:14PM (#42728939) Homepage

    My response to Office being Cloud-based is this: JUST SAY NO.

    As has been mentioned above my comment, there are multiple problems with this one being HIPAA laws for who can see patient documents. I would also be greatly concerned about corporate espionage - if the corporation was dumb enough to use Cloud Office in the first place. What better way to siphon off sensitive data from other corporations than to host all their files in your cloud?

    My strongest reason is even simpler than all of those - my data is my data is my data. It should reside on my home network, not in the cloud. It should be where I can get to it when I need it, without having to worry about if I paid my Office fee for access this month. It should be where I can manipulate it if need be, so that I can read it in a different program than the one it was created in. And it should for ever and all time be MINE. Not Microsoft's. Not Google's. Not Apple's. While the great majority of us who are technically inclined understand planned obsolescence and the inanity of depending on someone else to keep our saved files all nice and neat and accessible, the _public_ at large does not. We should be educating them on "the 3v1Ls" of such and the long list of companies that suddenly vanished after taking a lot of people's money, regardless of it was the corporation's fault they closed or some government's.

  • by Necroman (61604) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @01:18PM (#42729003)

    It's important to remember that there are 2 ways of buying Office 2013 (at least for home use): Office 2013 and Office 365. MS has a nice simple comparison here [microsoft.com]. The $99/year gets you 5 computers while the other SKUs only let you install on 1 computer.

    One important change for the stand-alone SKUs is the # of computers you can install on. In Office 2010, there were SKUs that let you install on 3 PCs for "Home & Student" edition or 2 PCs for "Home and Business" edition. While Office 2013 is 1PC for all editions of the stand-alone. I'm guessing this is MS trying to push Office 365 (the subscription).

    If I was installing on 5 PCs, the subscription may be worth it, but I'm not sure I like the idea of my software license expiring and possibly losing data.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      They will keep moving towards renting the software.

      The good news is there are lots of alternatives these days. Most of those are even free.

  • The article closes by asking 'Will you [pay up]?' The consensus in the comments is a resounding 'NO,' with frequent mentions of the suitability of OpenOffice for home productivity."

    And if Microsoft offers you Office for an annual rate that is the same or less than a typical AV product AND that includes "easy, no hassle updates" that make upgrading as painless as upgrading to the next version of Firefox, 95% of home users won't care. If Microsoft is smart, they'll make billing so easy, so simple, so customer

  • I remember the whole PlaysForSure fiasco, where at first, PlaysForSure was a new DRM that was incompatible with a good chunk of the players out at the time. Then, PlaysForSure servers got shut off, stranding people who bought their music legitimately.

    For music, at least I can re-get the music someplace else. But for docs, these are my files, I can't go to documentbay.se and get my files from there.

    I think a lot of people will be careful with this.

  • One thing that is not getting nearly the press it deserves, is that Microsoft changed the licensing on the desktop versions of Office. Unless previous versions, Office is no longer transferrable. So if you ever upgrade your computer, you have to buy a new copy of Office otherwise you are out of compliance.

    I was actually really looking forward to trying Office 2013, but that one change alone makes it a dealbreaker.

    http://office-watch.com/t/n.aspx?a=1784 [office-watch.com]

  • by Githaron (2462596) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @02:14PM (#42729825)
    $100 a year is way too much for the average home user. I bought a copy of Microsoft Office 2007 for around $70 at the student pricing when I was in college. I have been using the same copy since. So far the price per year has been $70 / 6 years = $11.67/year. That assumes I will buy a new copy sometime this year which I most likely will not. $5 to $10 a year would be more reasonable. Since graduating, my average usage of Microsoft Office at home is probably under 10 hours per year.
  • ... and how does he feel about a Cloud Era beginning in him? Also, any word from his friend Frank?

  • by westlake (615356) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @02:16PM (#42729859)

    The article closes by asking 'Will you [pay up]?' The consensus in the comments is a resounding 'NO,' with frequent mentions of the suitability of OpenOffice for home productivity.

    Perfectly predictable ---

    and as utterly meaningless as the responses to any self-selecting online poll.

    Now and again Ars Technica enjoys puncturing the geek's wish-fulfillment and over-inflated ego with a headline like this: Microsoft fails to notice the death of the PC, posts record revenue figures instead. [arstechnica.com]

    "The Windows Division once more becomes the company's biggest money-maker."

  • I provide end-user support for all types of software. When Microsoft launches something new, I force myself to use it so I become familiar with it. Accordingly, I just "upgraded" from Office 2010 to Office 2013. I am astounded at how ugly the new interface is. It's the same level of disgust I felt when I first experienced the Metro interface in Windows 8.

    I don't know if Microsoft is going to succeed in the mobile arena with their new paradigm, but I am damn sure they're going to alienate desktop users in dr

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