Going to university soon? Work when, where and how you please with Office 365
If you like the idea of working on the same document as your course mates from the comfort of your own bed, and accessing your work from your tablet on the train home, then Office 365 University is the way forward
So, you're off to university soon. You've already got a laptop, but the version of Office it is running is starting to look more retro than Noel Gallagher's haircut. It's time for a change...
If you like the idea of working on the same document as your course mates from the comfort of your own bed, and accessing your work from your tablet on the train home as well as from pretty much any other PC, then Office 365 Home Premium or Office 365 University is the way forward.
The Microsoft Office suite of software - so, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook OneNote and more have all had a revolutionary upgrade in the Office 365 version.
If you're going to Uni then these products will be your bread and butter; as crucial as your NUS discount card or battered Converse trainers. Most of your essays will be written in Word, your spreadsheets drawn up on Excel, and those daunting but exhilarating presentations delivered with the help of PowerPoint.
Office 365 University is £59.99 to cover you for up to four years. It's built specifically for students in college or university. It will allow you to install New Office on up two PC's or Mac's, two mobile devices (including iPhone) and access your documents on virtually any device that has internet connectivity.
Access your work from anywhere with Office
Whether choosing Office 365 Home Premium or Office 365 University, you'll have total control over your work. With it you can work on your assignments when, where and how you please.
As well as being installed on your machine, full feature rich versions of Word, Excel and others can be streamed to any PC running Windows 7 or later and access documents through Web App's on PC's using XP.
You can also save and access your work from the cloud with Microsoft's SkyDrive storage service. When buying or subscribing to Office 365 you'll receive a chunk of SkyDrive storage for free.
Work together on the same essay from different
One of the main benefits of saving work to the cloud is you're able to work on an essay or presentation at the same time as other Office 365 users on different machines.
Microsoft says this Office 365 feature is among the most-used by students - and it's easy to see why.
When you have a group assignment to work on it can be tricky to get everyone in the same place at once - with people's diaries peppered with unexpected hangovers and shifts at part-time jobs.
With Office 365 you can work on the same document together from your respective rooms, with multiple people making changes at the same time with the ability to add notes or even talk over Skype.
All you need to do is upload the document to SkyDrive and use the Share command to let others read or edit your copy of the essay. You invite classmates via their email addresses.
Gone are the days when you're all adding comments to separate versions of documents, and painstakingly having to work out how to integrate them into the master.
As Microsoft says: "No more file pile, just one copy with everyone's feedback."
Comments are easy to add: just right-click where you want your comment to appear, click 'new comment' and away you go. The comment will show up in a small dialogue box in the margin; click this to read in full. You're also able to answer the comment, if it was a question.
Finish essays during your weekend at home
Of course, another great feature of saving to the cloud is you're able to access your work from other machines. Getting round to doing an essay can be trying, but if you've left it 'til the last minute and are fretting 'cause you're going home for the weekend, chill out.
With Office 365 you'll find an eleventh-hour reprieve, enabling you to log on and access your work from your computer or laptop back home.
Office 365 University can be installed on Windows laptops and desktops running Windows 7 or 8, and Macs running OS X 10.6 or later. It can also be installed on tablets running the full version of Windows 8.
Access your work from PCs that aren't even installed
with Office 365
But you're also able to create new documents and work on existing files on PCs which don't have Office 365 installed.
With Office on Demand you can stream full versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and others to a PC running Windows 7 or later. All you have to do is sign into MyOffice from a web browser, and the program will be streamed to the desktop of the computer you're working on. Your work will be saved to the cloud, and no one else using the machine after you will be able to see the application or document.
Meanwhile, Office Web Apps are free, web-based versions of Word,
Excel and PowerPoint which can be accessed through SkyDrive. These
apps are opened in your web browser, and are scaled-back versions
of the full programs.
Office 365 blends mouse and keyboard with touchscreen tablets
A recent YouGov poll found one in five Britons now owns a tablet computer, with 18 to 34-year-olds accounting for 26% of the market.
Last year Microsoft reinvented its operating system with Windows 8, an OS designed with tablets and touchscreen laptops firmly in mind. So it's only natural that touch-screen computing and Windows tablets are a big part of Office 365.
With Office 365 you're able to swipe, pinch and zoom your way
around Word, Excel and other documents on your tablet or
touchscreen PC. Touch mode can be quickly turned on in the Quick
How Office 365 works on your tablet
The software can be installed on tablets running the full version of Windows 8, while those running the pared-back Windows RT are able to access documents using the pre-installed Office apps on their device.
The Office for Mobile app can also be downloaded to your iPhone or Windows Phone allowing you to view and edit files while out and about. Like all iPhone apps, the Office for Mobile app works on iPad too (3 or later, including iPad Mini), either small or "2X" scaled up - but you'll have a more satisfying experience by using Office Web Apps.
In Word, Read Mode is a feature that will appeal to slate devotees. Designed for reading rather than editing, it gets rid of the writing tools and menus so you can concentrate on what's on the page. It automatically adjusts the layout to fit the screen of your tablet or Windows Phone; just double-tap the screen to zoom in to your document and make whatever section you're focusing on fill it.
So, if you've got a long train ride home and want to read through a few essays, you can do so easily on your tablet.
Get organised, get social
A big part of holding things together at university is staying organised. This can be difficult with unplanned nights out, unexpected mornings waking up on a friend's sofa and the ever-present looming deadlines.
Outlook helps you keep on top of both work and play by synching with your personal email account, as well as telling you what the weather is going to be like over the coming few days.
Everyone's on Facebook these days, and you can keep tabs on what your friends are doing directly from your email account thanks to the option to sync Facebook and LinkedIn with Outlook.
With mobile, email and social, people have a plethora of contact
details. The handy People Card feature collects the myriad
addresses and numbers for each of your contacts on one handy card.
And if you love staying in touch with friends you'll be pleased to
hear free calling minutes for Skype are also bundled in with
subscriptions - you'll never miss a deadline or a party
Stay across your presentations with PowerPoint
But as much as there will be parties, Uni is of course about the graft.
We've talked a lot about writing essays - but another big part of studying for a degree is giving presentations. Standing up in front of your mates and trying to put in a performance worthy of winning a pitch on the Apprentice is both daunting and difficult, so relieve the pressure with some pretty nifty tech.
The new Presenter View in PowerPoint means you can focus on what you're saying, rather than fretting over dodgy projectors - this allows you to view your notes unbeknown to your audience and have more control over your presentation, even if the same can't be said for the crowd.
Present to the crowd slide by slide, while you have an overall
view of all the slides on another monitor. This means you're aware
of what's coming up, and have a back-up should any tricky questions
arise from previous slides. There's nothing as un-cool as a
flustered student scuttling back to the first slide to answer a
question that's left their mind totally blank.
Office 365 Home Premium and Office 365 University - the rub
There are stacks more cool things that make Office 365 Home Premium or Office 365 University a great option for students.
We don't have time to list any more, but here's a few words from a Microsoft chief to round things up (just in case you don't believe us).
Microsoft Office division director, Abigail Rappaport, said:
"Office 365 University opens the door for students to work
creatively and collaboratively from any connected space. With
Office on Demand, your own account settings follow you wherever you
go, meaning you can pick up your work right where you left off. You
can brainstorm school and home projects with shared notes and plans
in OneNote notebooks, and back up important documents such as
essays and presentations with ease using SkyDrive storage in the
Office 365 Home Premium is available in 21 languages and 162 markets for £79.99 for a one-year subscription and includes:
• One licence for the entire household -
use Office on up to five Windows PCs or tablets or Macs, and get
Office on Demand from any Internet-connected PC
• 27 GB of cloud storage with SkyDrive - 20 GB more than the normal user
• 60 free Skype world calling minutes per month - so you can call any mobile, landline or PC in the world
• All future upgrades - so you are always using the latest time-saving technology
Office 365 University is available in 52 markets and 21 languages for just £59.99 for a four year subscription includes:
• One licence for the student - use Office
on up to two Windows PCs or tablets or Macs, and get Office on
Demand from any Internet-connected PC
• All of the applications, SkyDrive storage, Skype calling and future upgrades which are included with Office 365 Home Premium (above)