Technologizer posts about Microsoft Office

Good to see Microsoft’s Office Web Apps get some of the basic features whose absence mystified me when the first version came out: Word printing, Excel charts, and PowerPoint clip art.

Posted by Harry at 2:08 pm

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Office for Mac Coming in October…and It’s Cheaper

By  |  Posted at 11:54 am on Monday, August 2, 2010

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Microsoft said Monday that it was expecting to release Office for Mac 2011 in October, while at the same time cutting the price as much as 50 percent to bring pricing in line with its Windows counterparts. Two versions of the software will be made available, one directed at academics and the other for business.

Microsoft Office for Mac Home and Student 2011 will include World, Excel, Powerpoint, and Microsoft’s instant messaging application for Mac OS X. The business version will include all of the above applications plus Outlook, which will replace Entourage as Office’s e-mail client on the Mac.

Pricing for the student version ill be $119 for a single license, and $149 for a family license which allows for installation on up to three machines. This compares to a single license price of $149 for Office 2008. For Office for Mac Home and Business 2011, a single license is now $199, down from $399, and a family license $279.

At any time, a user will be able to upgrade from the Student to Business version using online upgrade functionality, Microsoft said.

A $99 version of the business suite would also be made available, but only to those in higher-education. Proof of employment or enrollment in an academic institution would likely be required to take advantage of the discount.

Those who purchase Office for Mac 2008 after Monday will be eligible to upgrade to the new version at no cost, Microsoft said. To receive the free upgrade, the purchaser must register at Microsoft’s website.



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Office 2010 Hits Store Shelves

By  |  Posted at 1:03 pm on Tuesday, June 15, 2010

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The last bit of Microsoft’s Office 2010 rollout is now in place: The suite upgrade has gone on sale at retail stores, and is now being shipped in a pre-installed version on new PCs. (Even if the Windows machine you buy doesn’t include a paid-for copy of Office 2010, chances are pretty high that it includes a trial version which can be unlocked, or used indefinitely in a dumbed-down, ad-supported Starter mode.

For people who care about office-suite upgrades at all, I think Office 2010 is a good bet overall–especially the $150 Home and Student edition, which can be installed on three machines simultaneously, providing impressive bang for the buck as long as you don’t need Outlook.

But I seem to be way less impressed with the new Office Web Apps than the average tech pundit (here’s Walt Mossberg’s cautiously positive take). I get that Microsoft sees them as a complement to traditional Office rather than a substitute, and appreciate the much-better-than-average file compatibility and rendering fidelity. But too many very, very basic features are absent: For instance, I don’t quite understand how anyone could release a presentation app in 2010 that doesn’t let you draw a square or circle.

I attended an Office launch event last night, and Microsoft executives said they plan to beef up the Office Web Apps on an ongoing basis; I’ll keep tabs on further developments. And maybe the company’s contention that the current versions provide most of the features that most real people want is closer to being right than I think it is–if you try out the Web Apps (or Office 2010 itself) I’d love to hear your thoughts.



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Microsoft’s Office Web Apps Are Open for Business

By  |  Posted at 7:54 pm on Monday, June 7, 2010

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Microsoft has announced that the consumer versions of its new Office Web Apps–browser-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote–are now available to anyone who cares to check them out. They’re headquarted at office.live.com, and you need a Live ID to access them.

I wrote about the Office Web Apps when I covered Office 2010 a few weeks ago. Certain things about them are impressive–mainly the desktop-esque look and feel and much-better-than-average support for Microsoft’s own file formats. Overall, though, I found them frustratingly rudimentary: Years after Google and Zoho jumpstarted the category of Web-based suites, Microsoft is entering the market that lacks features as basic as the ability to move elements around on the page. They’re far more interesting as adjuncts to Office 2010–a pretty solid upgrade–than as a self-contained competitor to other online productivity packages. Maybe that was Microsoft’s intention all along.

If you give them a try, let us know what you think.



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Office 2010: Desktop Heavyweight, Online Weakling

Microsoft's suite upgrade is solid. But the accompanying Web Apps are surprisingly puny.

By  |  Posted at 8:00 am on Wednesday, May 12, 2010

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At an event this morning in New York, Microsoft is formally launching Office 2010, its accompanying Office Web Apps, and the SharePoint 2010 collaborative platform. The hoopla today is aimed at business customers–consumers won’t be able to buy Office in retail stores or get it preinstalled on PCs until June 15th, and while Microsoft hasn’t guaranteed a timetable for the consumer versions of the Web Apps, it says it expects them to arrive at the same time as the desktop suite.

Continue reading this story…



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Central Desktop: Office Collaboration Without Office 2010

By  |  Posted at 11:59 pm on Wednesday, May 5, 2010

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The biggest selling point for the soon-to-ship Microsoft Office 2010 is its new features for storing documents online and editing them with coworkers. At Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco this week, Central Desktop, whose business collaboration service competes with Microsoft’s SharePoint, was previewing a new service with an intriguing proposition: Get Office 2010-like collaboration without Office 2010.

Based on technology from OffiSync, Central Desktop for Office works with Office 2003 and 2007 as well as 2010. It’s a plug-in for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint which lets you open files saved on Central Desktop’s servers, edit them within the Office apps, manage changes from multiple colleagues, and save merged documents back to the cloud.  It certainly doesn’t eliminate the need for Office 2010–for one thing, it lacks anything like Microsoft’s new Office Web Apps file viewer/editors–but it’s worth a look if you’re allergic to big upgrades. (Unlike SharePoint, Central Desktop is hosted; unlike Office 2010, it offers team editing in Excel as well as Word and PowerPoint.)

Central Desktop for Office is due for release next month. Some of its features will be built into Central Desktop plans at various prices, and full access will cost around an extra $2 per user per month.



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Microsoft Melds Office With Facebook

By  |  Posted at 1:15 pm on Wednesday, April 21, 2010

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Facebook’s F8 developer conference kicked off today, so the Web is rife with Facebook-related news. One interesting tidbit: Microsoft is launching a beta version of something called Docs, which lets Facebook users collaborate on documents with their Facebook pals, in the browser or in the desktop versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. (The name “Docs” may prompt confusion with Google’s Office rival Google Docs, but Microsoft apparently owns Docs.com–and if I owned it, I’d want to use it for something like this, too.)

The beta as it’s been rolled out is semi-open: Anyone can view documents. But uploading, editing, and creating new ones requires an invite code. I’m don’t have full acess, so I can’t explore all of Docs’ features, but the idea doesn’t look so complicated: Basically, it’s a version of Office 2010′s workgroup features and Web-based apps that makes your Facebook friends your workgroup.

It’s tough to judge Docs until I get get full access to it, but it looks like it could be handy. One major question I still have: Even though this is clearly built on some of the Office 2010 Web technology, is it an entirely separate world–or can I create a document in an Office 2010 Web app and share it via Docs, and vice versa?



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Microsoft says it’s finished work on Office 2010. Business customers will get their hands on it as early as later this month in some cases; the shrinkwrapped retail version arrives in June.

Posted by Harry at 10:09 pm

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Bob and Beyond: A Microsoft Insider Remembers

Behind the scenes with Bob and its offspring--Clippy and the Microsoft Agent.

By  |  Posted at 1:00 am on Monday, March 29, 2010

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(Tandy Trower spent 28 years at Microsoft, working on everything from Microsoft BASIC to Windows 1.0 to user interfaces to robotics. In this article–part of our commemoration of Microsoft Bob’s fifteenth anniversary–he recalls his initial reaction to Bob and the Bob-like Office Assistant, and his spearheading of Microsoft Agent, a later attempt to build a better “social interface” of the type that Bob represented.)

After I managed the first two releases of Windows, I shifted my focus to helping improve the design and usability of Microsoft’s products, founding the company’s first user interface design services team. For most products, my team’s efforts involved improving window and icon designs, providing usability testing, defining good design practices, and promoting consistency between products. One of my most unique challenges came with the development of the now infamous Microsoft Bob.

Bob was a very different kind of product than Microsoft had ever created before. It was developed out of motivation to improve and simplify Windows and Microsoft’s application user interfaces, and has somewhat unfairly been considered one of the company’s biggest failures.

Bob first came onto my radar after I received an email from Bill Gates asking me to check on a new project he wanted me to review. The message included a document written by Karen Fries, the Bob program manager. In that document, Karen discussed the motivation behind Bob: the increasing complexity of richly featured GUI applications. There were so many choices for the user in terms of commands and options that it was like going to the supermarket and looking down the cereal aisle and trying to make a choice, or visiting a restaurant with a vast menu.
Continue reading this story…



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Office for the iPad? Maybe. Hopefully.

By  |  Posted at 12:07 pm on Thursday, February 11, 2010

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Gadget site T3 is reporting that Microsoft has dropped a “hint” that it may be working on a version of Office for the iPad. I hope so–it could be both cool and useful. But the evidence that it’s doing so is paper-thin so far. (I’ve probably asked Microsoft staffers about things they might be working on hundreds of times over the years, and they only rarely say “no comment” or issue a flat denial–their tendency is say that ideas of all sorts sound “interesting.”)

Last April, someone asked a Microsoft exec about Office for the iPhone, and some took his response (“Not yet–keep watching”) as evidence that such a suite was in the works. The only Office/iPhone news since then has been the fact that Office 2010′s Web features will include some basic tools designed to let people view documents on smartphones. Maybe the exec was talking about that. Or maybe Microsoft is working on an iPhone edition of Office. Or maybe he just meant what he said.

Of course, almost thirty years ago Microsoft did become a rabid fan of a new Apple platform, and released a bunch of applications for it. Its enthusiasm seems to have paid off for everybody involved that time around…



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Microsoft Extends 50% Windows 7 Discount

By  |  Posted at 6:23 pm on Monday, January 4, 2010

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Sometimes Microsoft’s biggest competitor is itself. Huge numbers of businesses are still using Windows XP, and Microsoft is acting aggressively to migrate them to Windows 7 by extending a promotion that offers Windows 7 and Office 2007 for half price.

Windows Vista is by many accounts a better operating system than XP, but nearly 90 percent of businesses bypassed the upgrade, and opted to stick with Windows XP, because it was “good enough” for them. Office XP presents Microsoft with a similar problem.

Continue reading this story…



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Office 2003 Rights Management Bug Locks up Files

By  |  Posted at 1:42 pm on Friday, December 11, 2009

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UPDATED: It’s a nightmare scenario: Imagine coming into the office and not being able to access any of your organization’s vital documents. That scenario became reality today for an untold number of Microsoft Office 2003 customers who use Microsoft’s Rights Management Service (RMS), a technology for controlling access to documents.

Office 2003 users receive the error, “Unexpected error occurred. Please try again later or contact your system administrator,” when they attempt to open or save protected documents. The bug affects Office 2003 products including Excel 2003, Outlook 2003, PowerPoint 2003, and Word 2003. It does not affect Office 2007 or Office 2010 Beta, according to Microsoft.

A spokesperson said that the bug was caused by a Information Rights Management (IRM) certificate expiring.

Microsoft has posted a bulletin to TechNet alerting customers to the problem, and says that it is working “as quickly as possible” to provide its customers with a solution. Further announcements will be posted to the blog.

Microsoft released a hotfix on Saturday. The Microsoft Office 2003 Service Pack 3 update is required for hotfixes to be installed.



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Microsoft Opens Up the Office 2010 Beta

...but the Web part of this newly Web-savvy suite remains a work in progress.

By  |  Posted at 10:26 am on Wednesday, November 18, 2009

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At its PDC developer shindig in Los Angeles, Microsoft is announcing that it’s putting Office 2010, which isn’t due to ship until the first half of next year, into a public beta. You can download the whole beta right here, and if you’re an Office user and are curious what’ll be new in Office 2010, the beta is worth a look. (You can install it alongside an existing earlier copy of Office and leap back and forth, although in my tests, my copy of Office 2007 briefly launched its install program whenever I returned to it after having used Office 2010.)

Continue reading this story…



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Office 2010 Goes Public Next Month

By  |  Posted at 11:22 am on Monday, October 19, 2009

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office2010logoMicrosoft is planning to release a public test version of Office 2010 next month, reports Cnet’s Ina Fried. The company’s technical betas of the suite and its Web-based version have been open to only a relatively small pool of testers, so the upcoming release will be the first time that anyone with an interest in what’s next for Office will be able to get some hands-on experience.

I’ve spent time with Office 2010 in its software and service incarnations, and while there’s some good stuff in both, I’m still reserving judgement until Microsoft releases more fully-baked versions–the Web suite and other collaborative features in the previews I tried were simultaneously the most (theoretically) interesting new features and the furthest from completion. (Large chunks were still simply missing in action.) Let’s hope the November preview is feature-complete, or close to it…



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Office 2010 Goes Free, Gets Ads

By  |  Posted at 3:07 pm on Thursday, October 8, 2009

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Office CardWhen Microsoft Office 2010 shows up sometime next year, the most basic version will have an appealing price: $0. Microsoft has announced that it’ll work with PC manufacturers to put something called Office 2010 Starter Edition on new machines. The new version will replace the venerable-but-languishing Microsoft Works, and will provide reduced-functionality versions of Word and Excel that don’t cost anything–and which embed advertising of some sort. PC owners will be able to purchase upgrade cards at retail outlets that let them turn Starter Edition into a full-blown copy of Office.

It’s impossible to fully judge Office Starter Edition until we know (A) just how “reduced” the functionality is, and (B) just how intrusive the ads are. (Companies have often talked about the idea of ad-supported office suites, but I’m not sure if anyone’s done it successfully; unlike Web searching, it’s not obvious how you’d integrate ads into a productivity suite in a way that made sense for consumers and advertisers.)

But if the ads aren’t too obnoxious and it’s easy to uninstall Office if you don’t want it, this could make sense–Microsoft presumably likes the idea of introducing cost-conscious folks to Office at no charge and preventing them from defecting to Google Docs or Zoho. Unfortunately, the free suite will be available preinstalled on new computers, not as a download–but if it becomes as pervasive as Works, it’ll show up on lots of machines.

Microsoft is also saying that there will be an online demo version of Office 2010 that uses virtualization to let you try out the suite without installing it–an important option considering that you can’t install Office 2007 and Office 2010 on the same machine. (When I’m king, there will be a law prohibiting software companies from releasing apps that can’t exist concurrently with their predecessors.)

Office 2007 was originally accompanied by an online demo version that the Office site says is no longer available. Don’t tell anybody, but it’s still accessible here. It works quite well–I wish something similar were available for every major application.

Anyhow, let’s wrap this up with a T-Poll:



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