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New Microsoft Office ropes in Skype, Yammer

Updated: As Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and company showed off the latest version of Office Monday, they hit all the right marks — a touch interface, cloud storage, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) integration and social networking tie-ins.

The new Office will be both “ink-”  and “touch-” enabled.  It will store user documents to Microsoft’s SkyDrive by default. And the new Office Home and Student 2013 RT versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote will ship with Microsoft’s promised ARM-based Windows 8 machines including Surface.

Lot of what

A lot of what was detailed was integration of  the new Office with existing Microsoft products, including Skype for VoIP communication and Yammer for social networking.

Much of the new functionality looks like catch-up — Microsoft knows it needs to respond to the iPad fever that’s overtaken the world, hence the Windows 8 tablets and touch enablement. Update: A Microsoft spokeswoman said Mac Office was not discussed today however that Office Mobile will work across Windows Phones, Android phones and iOSand that Microsoft will discuss those plans later. As for ink, Microsoft has been pushing pen computing for a decade with no discernible traction. It’ll be interesting to see if it takes this time around.

This effort is unbelievably important to Microsoft. Office, moreover than Windows itself, is what keeps many people coming back to Microsoft — their documents are created in Word and their presentations authored in PowerPoint.  However many startups and web companies are taking a good look at free or less pricey Google Apps.  If nothing else, that price pressure and the demand for cloud-friendly applications have driven this Microsoft move.

Microsoft Office moving to the cloud will undoubtedly allow better control over our licenses. The fact we can add and/or remove a remote user at the click of the mouse will have an immediate effect on our bottom line. The folks over at WorkSpace Communications who provide our help desk tell us that deployment of new users will be reduced by 60% along with substantial increase in resolving remote support issues. Microsoft Office has become so entrenched within our organization we could not move to any other application without causing a total collapse of our operations. I'm happy to see Microsoft moving more aggressively to the cloud and look forward to a long and now lower cost solution.

More information: Gigaom
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