Microsoft is a lot like Lindsay Lohan or Britney Spears, and the tech news community has been acting like trashy paparazzi. You see, Lindsay and Britney were at one point the darlings of the entertainment business. They were well respected and people enjoyed following their rise to fame. However, once on top, those same people took joy at their self destruction.
Microsoft is the same; its Windows product was a huge reason why the personal computing explosion occurred. Without that operating system, the world would be a much different place -- likely for the worse. It too was celebrated, but once on top, many people bashed the company for its policies and business practices. Windows 8 was perhaps the apex though, with many news publications claiming that the operating system was a failure and that the company's best days were behind it. Well, I am here to say that Microsoft is finally doing some things right! Here are five things that prove it.
It’s taken a very long time, but today, finally, Microsoft unveiled Office for iPad. Despite the name, Office for iPad is three separate apps -- Word, Excel and PowerPoint -- which are individually available in the App store.
The apps have a familiar interface, with the same Ribbon interface and layout. But at the same time, they’re not just a port of the regular desktop version. Menus have been optimized for touch; objects can similarly be dragged, rotated or resized with a swipe; Excel has a special formula keyboard to help you enter data quickly, and everything scales properly in both portrait and landscape mode.
It's fun to remember. When old friends get together, nostalgia often takes over, and conversations turn to "remember when". Recalling years past can bring back feelings of yore -- old girlfriends, your first car, your first kiss -- all that jazz.
However, do people look back on old software with the same fondness? Microsoft seems to think so, as it looks back at Office 2003. The Office Suite will die the same day as Windows XP -- April 8th, 2014. You see, on that date, Office 2003 will still work, but the company will end support for the popular software. Microsoft would like Office 2003 users to switch to 365, but should they?
Office 365 Home Premium is a great value product for families. For the Leave It To Beaver market, it is a great way to save money as it provides five licenses. Wally, Beaver, Mom and Dad can all have Microsoft Office for a paltry $99 per year. Hell, they can give Eddie Haskell the extra license.
However, what about the lonely bachelors and single ladies of the world that do not need five licenses? Maybe a person only owns one computer and only needs one license. It is a sin to pay for five licenses and have four go to waste. Today, Microsoft announces a new option for the Juan Pablo's of the world -- Office 365 Personal. It offers potential cost savings to individuals.
For many, Microsoft Office is the best office suite. It is chock full of features that makes it ideal for power-users. A major corporation cannot realistically depend on anything else. Sure, a small business or student can get by with Libreoffice or Google's web apps, but a Fortune 500 company would be foolish to do so -- at least today.
Not everyone is a power-user though -- having too many features can ultimately become noise. This is where Google's Docs and Sheets shine -- they are simple and meet basic needs. However, that does not mean the software cannot evolve. Quite frankly, Google is a company that is a leader in evolution and forward thinking, so its software is always gaining new features. Today, the search-giant announces an evolution in Docs and Sheets with the ability to utilize add-ons.
As a Surface 2 owner, I have come to grips with the fact that Windows RT, the operating system on my tablet, is a bastardized version of "real Windows". However, I love the OS, as it works great and is very secure. On the RT variant, the user cannot install classic Windows programs. While many see this as a negative, I see it as a positive -- classic Windows viruses and malware cannot be installed either.
While the user cannot install classic programs, many come pre-loaded. Favorites such as Notepad and Paint are all here, but even better, RT devices come with Office 2013 preinstalled. Recently, there has been much news about Office 2013 Service Pack 1, but the RT version has been seemingly forgotten. Believe it or not, Office 2013 RT also got updated to SP1. But if you cannot download and run an upgrade file from the web, how do you upgrade? Read on for instructions.
While the gold-standard of office suites remains Microsoft's Office, many competitors are trying to catch up. While Libreoffice is a nice alternative, it has failed to truly take off beyond Linux users and people who don't want to spend money or cant afford to buy Microsoft's solution.
However, the biggest competitor lately has been Google. The search giant has been making a push with both web apps (like Google Docs) and Chrome OS. Education institutions have been high on Google's web philosophy as it is cheaper. Today, the search giant announces that it will be providing Google Apps for Education to students in the Brazilian city of São Paulo.
After launching SkyDrive replacement OneDrive yesterday, Microsoft announced, today, Office Web Apps is also out of its cloud lineup and, instead, Office Online is here to take its place. To prove that the change is not for change's sake, the software giant designed the new suite to be easier to find, with other new features also being offered.
Office Online takes a first step in the right direction, as it is available directly from Office.com, unlike the now-defunct Office Web Apps which users had to access via SkyDrive. The former's address is easy to remember and, indeed, makes it easy to find. And it is not just Office Online available there, but also Outlook.com and the complementary Calendar, People and OneDrive. More consumer-facing, cloud-based Microsoft services listed in one place is a clever strategy, especially when it is combined with a streamlined page design. Marketing starts there for the online version of Office.
The existence of a paperless office and the overall death of paper has been greatly exaggerated. Anyone who has been in an actual company office recently knows that paper is still haunting the corporate world. Sure, there is less of it being used, but even one sheet is too many.
What can be particularly annoying is signatures. Printing and signing something feels archaic. Hell, you might as well chisel your name into a cave wall. Today, however, Microsoft and DocuSign join forces to bring eSignature to Office 365. While the partnership won't single-handedly kill paper, it is a start.
It is no secret that Microsoft is feeling threatened by Chromebooks and Chrome OS. A series of controversial ads which disparage the pair has already proved that. But when will the software giant stop playing the same old broken record that implies only Windows PCs are good enough to get real work done and Chromebooks are not?
Microsoft downplays Chromebooks due to their alleged inability to get "much done" without an Internet connection and without access to its own Office suite. This is the theme that Microsoft has used (and repeatedly abused before) to pitch Windows 8.1 in a new video advert. Seriously? How can a company that prides itself for its cloud services use those two arguments in 2014? Is that not the definition of hypocrisy?
Due to my geeky nature I am prone to making rash decisions. If something interesting grabs my attention chances are I will want to try it out right away, without giving too much thought to the possible implications as curiosity gets the best of me. More often than not (luckily), I enjoy the experience from the get-go and end up accepting the new, but this has not been the case with my switch from Windows 8.1 to Mac. Things just did not make sense to me right from the start, it did not feel natural and it did not just work. I have since wanted to go back more times than I can remember.
Years and years of muscle memory and computing habits, that I developed whilst using Windows, went down the drain as I started my Mac experiment (a costly one at that). Bye, bye! The software that I needed or wanted to use was simply not there, or working as I would have liked it to, on OS X. I definitely did not enjoy this part, nor the one where I had to find good alternatives to my favorite programs, learn how to do basic things again, and adapt to what was basically a quirky new platform for me. I am not a masochist, I enjoy trying out new things, but even I had to admit that I was in over my head.
Outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer got a vote of confidence from customers today, if Surface's sales surge is any indication. In October 2012, he refocused the company on "devices and services", something reflected in the Windows 8.1 tablet and also Xbox One, which launched during fiscal second quarter 2014.
After the closing bell today, Microsoft released long-anticipated Surface sales with its quarterly earnings report. Wall Street analysts and investors also eagerly wondered about Windows 8.1, which revenues looked to be brutally beaten back by historic declines in PC shipments. Surface revenue reached $893 million, up from $400 million during fiscal first quarter. Meanwhile, Windows OEM license sales declined by 3 percent, year over year.
It's Thanksgiving day here in the states and, with the turkey not yet in the oven and football having not kicked off, I thought it appropriate to take a moment to give thanks. No, not for my family or for the chance to live my life the way I do, though all of those are on my list, but for tech products -- this is a technology news site, after all.
I've given careful consideration to this and looked at what I used most over the past year -- the products that got the most hands-on, that provided the best experience. I've whittled that list down to just five, and now its time to share, to give each a hearty thank-you. I'd offer them a bit of pumpkin pie if I could.
This week, November 12th to be precise, is that holiday we have come to call Patch Tuesday. It's the day when Microsoft rolls out fixes for bugs, both small and large, in its software, from Windows to Office and more. This month's releases are of particular interest, not because of what the company is fixing, but what it has chosen to leave unpatched.
November's update includes eight patches, three of which have been tagged as 'critical'. Microsoft even promises it "will host a webcast to address customer questions on the security bulletins on November 13, 2013, at 11:00 AM Pacific Time".
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.