Microsoft 2013

Microsoft 2013

The launch of the new version of Microsoft Office 2013 earlier this week may not have been as exciting as the release of a new tablet, but it is arguably as important.  As MS Office is used by over 750 million people, this could be the new way that you work.  So, what’s new and will it be a success?

What’s new?

MS 2013 is designed with the Windows 8 operating system in mind – the look and feel is very similar with many optionslooking like apps.  But don’t panic; MS 2013 can be used on traditional desktop devices too.  This is smart business, allowing users to opt in without large hardware upgrade costs.  

The way that Microsoft charge for MS 2013 is also evolving – the one-off payment per machine is still available but not your only option.  If you are a consumer, you can now subscribeand put the new software onto up to five of your devices.   For business, one license is still the maximum for one user, but sharing across 5 devices is still valid – useful for business users with a laptop and a tablet.

Anyone who has used a PC for a long time will be familiar with the blue screen of death – meaning that your hard drive is in deep trouble and your documents may not be recoverable.  This shouldn’t be an issue anymore with Microsoft SkyDrive– documents can be saved to the cloud.  Although there may be security concerns for business, this back-up facility has to be good news.  It also means that you can keep some free space on your tablet if you have a limited amount of memory.  

The final feature that I’ll mention is the social sharing directly from Outlook.  Nice tool and very relevant, but surely it can’t be long before there is a significant PR fail from thisfeature….

Will it be a success?

I think that Microsoft have got the balance of old and newright with MS 2013.  People will not want to re-learn a system that they feel they already know – most features are slight improvements, but MS 2013 has been designed with an eye to the future – simple social sharing, touch screen interface andcloud storage are all positives.  

As ever, using MS 2013 on competitor hardware will be an important factor to MS 2013’s success.  It will be interesting to see how MS 2013 performs on iPad – with 100m devicessold, this tablet is impossible for Microsoft to ignore.

I don’t think that any new MS Office is immediately designed for business.  The cost of testing and integrating means that business adoption will be low for the first year.  And most differences between MS 2010 and MS 2013 are not enough to justify the cost.  However, in time, I think that MS 2013 willbe adopted by business.  More and more businesses areissuing tablets to field-based people, so upgrading to softwarethat is designed specifically for touch screen technologymakes sense – in time!

What do you think about MS 2013 – are you excited, indifferent, underwhelmed?  Leave a comment and let me know.  

Windows 8

Windows-8

Windows-8

This week I am going to take a look at Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 8.  You may have seen the TV adverts showing off some of its features, but should you believe the hype?

When you start using Windows 8, it becomes clear that the platform is designed for touch screen technology.  It has large icons which can be personalised, and responds pretty intuitively to finger movements.  However, the challenge for Windows 8 is to deliver an operating system which can cater for PC, tablet and mobile but without taking too much functionality away from any of these devices.  Developing a mobile and desktop operating system is not unique to Microsoft – the Mac OS and iOS are becoming increasingly blurred (and has attracted its fair share of criticism too!).

I have used the PC and mobile version of Windows 8, and it takes a little time to get the basics right without using touch, i.e. using a keyboard and mouse.  However, it must be remembered that humans are on the whole pretty wary of change.  Even if Windows 8 is better, it certainly is different so it will take some time for users to adjust.

What operating systems are hoping to achieve is the possibility to start a piece of work on one device, and for the user to change the device but still work on that piece of work with a seamless transition.  An uninterrupted experience would be a huge step forward from the user’s perspective and there is no doubt that Windows 8 is capable of doing that.

Windows 8 has been designed to be web developer friendly.  People are well aware of the benefits of apps on their mobile devices, but Windows 8 will allow apps to be developed for PCs too – if you use Google Chrome, you will know how handy apps can be on your computer.  This is a big deal – making Windows 8 easy to develop means that programmers will be keen to work on it, a key factor to the success of any operating system as it means a constant stream of new content.

So, what does the future hold for Windows 8?  I think that it will be a success – it has gimmicks such as facial recognition like the X-Box, and is easily developed by programmers.  Initially the success will come from consumers – it is much easier for consumers to adopt a new operating system but businesses will be a lot slower to take it up (due to the time, cost and complication of introducing new operating systems).

The challenge for Windows 8 will be how quickly it can persuade people to leave their current operating system behind – if they can do this, expect to see Windows 8 on a screen near you soon.

Have you used Windows 8 yet?  What did you think?