The big news this week is Microsoft's launch of the next-gen Office suite preview. However, I don't believe the new features in Office 2013 are compelling enough to drive massive sales -- at least not immediately.
Instead, Office 2013 will take root over time, thanks to several factors. For example, on April 8, 2014, support ends for Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003, the last version of Office using the old menu structure rather than the new ribbon interface. As more and more companies finally begin to deploy Windows 7, they're looking to update Office as well. Although many companies will switch to the current Office 2010, those on track for Windows 7, or possibly Windows 8, updates next year may go ahead with Office 2013 at the same time.
[ Also on InfoWorld: Serdar Yegulalp's in-depth review of the Office 2013 preview edition and quick tour of Office 2013's key features. And Galen Gruman explains why Windows 8 tablets won't threaten the iPad, despite the inclusion of Office 2013. | Stay abreast of key Microsoft technologies in our Technology: Microsoft newsletter. ]
Microsoft knows that core features alone aren't compelling enough to prompt the move to Office 2013 -- in fact, most companies now intentionally stay a version behind. This is why Microsoft is orchestrating a server-side release of Exchange 2012, SharePoint 2012, and Lync 2012 that will take greater advantage of all of the new collaborative features built into Office 2013, as an inducement for IT to not hang back as usual.
I suspect that 2014 will be the year Office 2013 settles in, as Office 2003 support ends, any initial Office 2013 bugs are addressed, Windows 7 becomes the mainstay version of Windows in business, and the 2012 editions of Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync also gain traction. And I believe that businesses taking the Office 2013 plunge will find several features they will end up liking a lot.
Office Telemetry: This will collect reports from all Office clients and monitor all PCs with Office 2013, sending administrators information about client performance, files used, and customizations applied. There are also tools to collect migration-oriented information on Office 2003, 2007, and 2010 clients. The Office Telemetry Dashboard -- an Excel workbook that connects to a telemetry database -- replaces several tools used with Office 2010, including the Office Migration Planning Manager (OMPM), Office Code Compatibility Inspector (OCCI), and Office Environment Assessment Tool (OEAT).
Click-to-Run: This capability is designed for network-based installations, such as for remote clients. The install streams in the background but lets users access features as they are streamed, rather than wait for the install to complete. Click-to-Run is not new to Office 2013; Office 2010 also supported it for consumer usage, but Microsoft says it has been enhanced to allow large enterprise deployments.
Office-on-Demand: This option provides a single Office application on demand to users when they need it. Maybe you are traveling and are using a business center's PC, or you're using a relative's PC, or your laptop died on the road and you picked up a new one to keep working. In such cases, the Office application is streamed to the PC but is not permanently installed.
These scratch the surface of what you can expect in Office 2013; in fact, Microsoft has not released much detail on all of the enterprise features, so there's definitely more to come. Even with increased competition from open source tools like LibreOffice and mobile apps such as iWork and Quickoffice, I believe Office will remain by far the dominant tool in business. After all, when you think office productivity, you think Microsoft Office, and Office 2013 should only further cement that association in the Windows world, at least.
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