Microsoft Office, which consists of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, has been a staple of most businesses desktop computing for more than a decade. However, some big changes are underway and more are coming that will change the way you use Office. Already, you can connect Office to the Web to store, share, and collaborate on documents, and soon, there will be a completely free version of the software available over the Web.
So what does this mean for your business, and how can you benefit from the new direction of Microsoft Office? Here’s a look at what’s in store:
Office Live Workspace Connects Your Desktop to the Web
If you’re used to collaborating on documents over email, or ensuring remote access to files by emailing them to yourself, Office Live Workspace is a completely new way of doing business. To get started, you first download and install a free add-on into Office (you’ll need either Office ’07 or XP) from Microsoft’s website. What this does is essentially connect Office to an online account on the Office Live Workspace website. You’ll get two new menu opens, one that allows you to save files to your Workspace account, and one that lets you open files from it.
Meanwhile, from your Live Workspace account, you’ll be able to see all of the files you’ve saved and access them - it’s essentially like an online hard drive that’s accessible from anywhere. Beyond that though, you can share files, allowing your colleagues to access them and make edits or leave comments as well. This eliminates the issues that can often emerge when working on edits by emailing attachments back and forth. Live Workspaces gives you control over who has editing privileges, so if you’d rather some people only be able to see the document but not make changes, you can do that as well.
Workspace also lets you setup multiple projects – or, “Workspaces” in Microsoft terms. This makes it possible to create separate spaces for different projects, and invite only people that are relevant to it to become collaborators.
Microsoft Office 2010: A Web-Based Version of Office
While Live Workspaces might extend your current version of Office to the Web, starting with Microsoft Office 2010, there will be a full web-based version of the software, allowing you to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations using new versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint that work in your Web browser.
What this means is rather than relying on a plugin in the desktop version of Office, you’ll be able to simply access the documents online, using Microsoft’s familiar interfaces. You’ll still be able to use them on the desktop of course, but this makes the process of going back and forth between the two seamless. You can imagine how useful that could be in a situation where you find yourself without Office, or need to share something with someone that doesn’t have it installed.
Moreover, the web-based version of Office will be free. Though not intended to be a full-fledged replacement for Office (after all, Microsoft still wants to make money), what this does do is open up the possibility of using Office from any computer without having to purchase additional licenses. Further, although most Netbooks can run the installable version of Office, a Web-based version will make the concept of low-cost, portable computing much more realistic.
In all, Microsoft Office is going to be changing significantly over the next year, with the result creating a lot of opportunities to gain efficiencies and reduce costs for your business.