Microsoft has been busy this year, working towards landing its Office 365 in the enterprise, government offices and educational institutions. The company announced its latest ploy back on October 15, aiming at any school that licenses Office 365 ProPlus or Office Professional Plus for its employees.
Today the program officially goes live, bringing Office 365 Student Advantage to thousands of educational institutions. Eligible locations will be able to begin offering Office 365 ProPlus to all students.
When it comes to Office 365, some people think I'm too soft on Microsoft because I'm always writing about the good things I see in the service. And don't get me wrong, I think the platform is leagues better now than it was just a year ago. Just peruse some of the brutal honesty I wrote about Office 365 in the head to head piece I did against Google Apps back in mid 2012, and you may be shocked about my current viewpoint on the product.
Microsoft has indeed come a long way with the service as a whole. Before the 2013 edition of the suite, I found 365 to be a cluttered "me too" offering that did nothing to differentiate against Google Apps. My biggest gripe was that Microsoft was working too hard to cram desktop-first software into a cloud experience that felt half baked in the end. That notion got turned on its head earlier this year, and my feelings about the latest Office 365 for Business ecosystem are pretty positive overall.
Microsoft Research's latest app makes it easier than ever to give a presentation without having to hunch over your laptop. Like the idea of wandering the stage gesticulating wildly as you skip between PowerPoint slides? Fancy being able to scroll through Word and Excel documents without the need to find your mouse? This is what Office Remote has been designed for. This is a simple app for Windows Phone, but one that will be welcomed with open arms by anyone who has to give presentations as part of their job.
The app is described by Microsoft as transforming a cell phone into a "magic wand" and it untethers presenters so they are free to walk the stage and interact with their audience. While the most obvious app to use Office Remote with may be PowerPoint, it can be used with Word and Excel too -- the 2013 and 365 versions of the office suite are supported (although not the RT version of Office).
Microsoft has been busy on many fronts recently, from the desktop to the living room, to business. The latest update released by the company is for businesses, though home users can also benefit. Microsoft today announces a new update that brings Office 365 to new markets and languages.
The software giant now boasts 123 markets for its latest iteration of the suite, also allowing new customers to grab a 120-day free trial before making a decision about whether or not to reach for their wallets.
Microsoft has introduced a major update for Office Web Apps, meant to improve collaboration on documents. At the same time, the latest update also allows the service to better compete against its arch-rival, Google Docs.
The Excel, PowerPoint and Word cloud apps are getting real-time co-authoring, a feature that has been available for quite some time in Google Docs. Put simply, this means that users can perform simultaneous edits, with the said cloud apps also informing folks whenever someone else is altering a certain part of the document. The real-time co-authoring is augmented by the ability to see text and formatting changes in files as they are being made.
It may be hard to believe, but OneNote was released in November 2003. To many mature users of Microsoft's Office suite, it still feels like a "new" addition. Sadly, many people do not use the note-taking, collaboration solution, likely from a lack of education on the software. I am only a few years removed from college and never observed a single student leveraging OneNote in the classroom; they all used Word. This is unfortunate as it is a great cross-platform solution -- Windows, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone are now all supported.
To celebrate the 10 year anniversary, Microsoft is launching the One Notable Decade campaign. This should hopefully raise awareness of the powerful software. Today, Microsoft shares some examples of how OneNote helps people be successful in their lives.
With Android handsets and iPhones taking the lion's share of the smartphone market, Windows Phone is quite often overlooked by most consumers in their purchasing decisions. The popularity, or lack thereof, of devices running Microsoft's mobile OS likely plays an important part but it also detracts folks from getting the smartphone that may be right for them. Ask yourselves how many of your acquaintances have been in this position.
Many do not even take Windows Phone into consideration and the ones that do easily find a couple of reasons to dismiss the platform and jump on the Android or iPhone bandwagon. Yes, Windows Phone may not be the right answer for everyone but it might be for more people than naysayers think. And I have got 10 good reasons why consumers should give Windows Phone a chance.
Children are the future and they all deserve a great education. However, as the world trends towards being digital and paperless, students are not always fully empowered with the right tools. Sadly, this largely comes down to cost -- while a student can download LibreOffice or use Google Docs for free, they are just no match for the perennial Microsoft Office.
Don't believe me? According to a new study by IDC, "the only software package called out within the top 20 skills across all occupations is Microsoft Office, explicitly required in 15 percent of high-growth, high-salary positions. Microsoft Office is No. 3 on the list of skills most required, and Microsoft PowerPoint and Word are No. 11 and No. 13 most required skills".
Steve Ballmer's departure from Microsoft will be a series of epitaphs written over the coming months. Many arm-chair pundits and analysts will scrutinize his 13-year tenure as chief executive, and you can expect him to be the scapegoat for all things wrong with Microsoft. Most assuredly, Ballmer could have done many things better, but he also contended with forces out of his control: government oversight for anti-competitive practices conducted under predecessor Bill Gates' leadership; maturing PC software market; and rise of the Internet as the new computing hub, among others.
For all Microsoft's CEO might have done wrong, he was right about something dismissed by many -- and I among them: Google. Ballmer started treating the search and information company as a competitive threat about a decade ago. Google as Microsoft competitor seemed simply nuts in 2003. How could search threaten Windows, particularly when anyone could type a new web address to change providers? Ballmer was obsessed, chasing every Google maneuver, often to a fault. Execution could have been better, but his perception was right.
Microsoft is going on the offensive trying to demonstrate that Office 365 is better than Google Apps. A series of tweets sent out via the Why Microsoft Twitter account link to articles on the Why Microsoft website in which Office is compared to Google's offering in various scenarios. This latest campaign appears to be not just an exercise in advertising Office 365, but in actively putting down Google Apps.
A series of infographics draw comparisons between using the two tools in different professions. Things kicked off with a look at the life of a sales rep but there are other scenarios including the daily activities of a teacher and Microsoft is also keen to point out how different a company it is to IBM.
Big news came from Apple and Microsoft this week. Microsoft seemingly had a change of heart; having previously said that Windows 8.1 RTM would not be made available before its official launch date, the company announced that it would be released to people with TechNet and MSDN subscriptions.
The same group of people also gained access to the pre-release version of Skype. Microsoft was clearly in a very giving mood this week as the company also announced that it was giving free copies of Office 365 to non-profit organizations.
Okay, it was an easy joke, I confess, but thanks to recent Surface sales, the concept is perhaps not too far from the truth. One division at Microsoft which delivers a large part of corporate revenue is Office. The latest version, Office 2013/365, blurs the lines between desktop and web app, and is powering an increasing number of large businesses and government offices.
Now, hot on the heels of caving to developers yesterday by releasing Windows 8.1 to TechNet and MSDN subscribers, the software giant announces yet another altruistic gesture, this time donating Office 365 to non-profit organizations. "Today we are donating to nonprofits and NGOs access to Microsoft’s best-in-class cloud-based productivity and collaboration tools, enabling them to spend fewer resources and time on IT and focus on their missions addressing global issues, such as disease eradication, education and literacy, and environmental sustainability,” says Jean-Philippe Courtois, president of Microsoft International.
If you've ever felt like you needed an easier way to manage your Office 365 installation then you're not alone. Tech Data Corporation and MessageOps have had the same thought and joined forces to offer an easy to use cloud management platform called 365 Command.
The tool offers a fast, accurate and cost-efficient way for solution providers to manage their Office 365 clients. Bharath Natarajan, director of product marketing, TDCloud and software services at Tech Data says, "Available through Tech Data's award-winning Solutions Store, powered by StreamOne, 365 Command will bring profitable success to solution providers' cloud businesses, creating a continual revenue and profit stream".
For those in the States, the mad dash to compliance is unquestionably on. After years of taking a "wait and see" approach to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations surrounding medical office technology, healthcare providers (and related covered entities) are scrambling to get their systems and procedures in order. Big Brother has officially set a September 23, 2013 deadline for most new rules that put into place heightened protocols for how patient information (PI) is shared as well as how notifications about breaches need to be handled, among other things.
Naturally, a lot of my consulting clients in the healthcare industry are reaching out for professional help on how to get their IT systems in line as these deadlines approach. One of the biggest facets of the new HIPAA laws, which affects companies like mine that provide hands-on IT consulting, is that for the first time ever we are being considered "covered entities" in the same boat as the healthcare outlets themselves.
Microsoft is on something of a roll with advertisements at the moment. After taking a swipe at iPads and Google, the latest round of ads, this time for Office 365, takes a slightly different approach -- tugging on the heartstrings of parents about to wave offspring off to university.