Software giant once again touts 'work anywhere, anytime and on any device' mantra
New rollout includes the first consumer version of its Office on the cloud offering
MICROSOFT Malaysia launched the latest iteration of its Office productivity suite by having 60 of its employees working off their laptops and tablets at the Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC) light rail transit station (pic) earlier this week.
Just as with the Office 365 launch in 2011, in which for weeks preceding the actual rollout, orange-booted young men would break into office work at the oddest of places, the Microsoft employees were trying to illustrate Office’s new mantra of work anywhere, anytime and on (just about) any device.
The rollout this week included three new editions of the on-premise version – the version you installed on your computer’s hard disk, which the company now prefers to describe as being licensed in perpetuity – as well as two new editions of its Office 365 subscription based cloud service.
The latter includes the first consumer version of the cloud service with an admittedly attractive offer. Office 365 Home Premium comes in a one-license-for-the-entire-household model, covering up to five desktops or devices in whatever form factor, and including Macintoshes, for a subscription fee of RM259 a year.
As part of the package, the household gets 27 GB (gigabytes) of cloud storage with SkyDrive (20 GB more than the perpetual license user), as well as 60 free Skype world calling minutes per month – so calls can be made to selected mobile, landlines or PCs around the world.
Users will also get ongoing product and services upgrades for as long as they are subscribed to the service. For Office 365 subscribers, this means new features and services stream to subscribers as soon as they’re ready, eliminating the hassles of upgrading and keeping subscribers always up-to-date, the company said in a statement.
A student version, Office 365 University, is available to students for RM249 for a four-year subscription on up to two PCs or Macs and select mobile devices.
Like the touch-optimized and re-imagined Windows 8 operating system, the new Office heralds a company in transition as Microsoft seeks to stave off Apple and Samsung’s threat to make iOS and Android corporate darlings.
In a blog post in conjunction with the global launch, Microsoft Corp chief executive officer Steve Ballmer said that since Office 365 for businesses was launched 18 months ago, one in five of its enterprise customers now has the service, up from one in seven a year ago.
“Smaller businesses are also choosing Office 365 at a rapid pace, with a 150% increase in the number of small and medium-sized businesses using the service over the past 12 months. These businesses will get to enjoy the new Office 365 service for businesses beginning Feb 27,” he said.
Last week’s launch also included three new on-premise versions: Office Home & Student 2013 at RM349; Office Home and Business 2013 at RM889 and Office Professional 2013 at a whopping RM1,579.
“We are going to be on two parallel paths for the foreseeable future – the subscription and the perpetual,” said Microsoft Malaysia chief marketing and operating officer Danny Ong (pic).
“Our customers have given us extensive feedback, and the most important message we get them from them is that they want a choice, so we’re giving it to them,” he added.
In a preview briefing a week before the launch, Microsoft Malaysia product marketing manager Tareq Mandou told select media that the new Office editions were designed with an eye towards the confluence of four different generations of IT users – from the old-school clinet-server computing paradigm to today’s Generation Y.
“There will be one billion smartphones in the world by 2016, with 350 million of them being used for work,” he said. “82% of the world’s online population engages in social networking and 50% of enterprise customers say they are on the road to the cloud.”
The workplace will see all of this come together. Microsoft cited a Forrester report stating that more than 50% of information workers are using three or more devices at work. Additionally, 60% of these devices are used for both work and personal purposes.
Locally, a Workplace of the Future report commissioned by Citrix found that Malaysia currently leads the world’s population for the highest number of devices accessing the corporate network, with an average six devices per employee.
Office 365 Home Premium comes with a complete set of Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access) which users can access seamlessly across multiple devices.
It integrates information from Facebook and LinkedIn so they’re always connected with at-a-glance contact information, availability, status updates and activity feeds, Microsoft said.
Their data and personal information is safe with incorporated security measures such as data loss prevention and malware protection.
To help people find more time to do the things they want, Microsoft is also introducing Time to 365, a new crowd-sourced website where people can find and share tips, tricks, ideas and inspiration from around the world.
Both cloud and on-premise versions are available online and also immediately available at retailers nationwide, with the latter coming in the form of an activation card with the product key code only.
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