Head in the cloud with Microsoft Office

The cloud is at the heart of Microsoft´s newly launched Office software suite

31 Jan 2013


After spending the day with the new Microsoft Office, our head is firmly in the cloud.

Office 365new

You may be thinking we mean 'clouds' but we don't. For the cloud - the name given to how files and applications are stored online - is at the heart of the new software suite.

Documents are automatically saved to Microsoft's cloud storage service, SkyDrive. So if you're working on something at home you can pick it up in the office - all without a wire or an email attachment in sight.   

Microsoft showed its hipster credentials with the touchscreen interface of Windows 8, and the technology is a major feature of the new Office. Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook have been suitably overhauled to work with tablets and touch-enabled laptops.  

And for those who aren't as keen on a world of swiping and pinching, the classic keyboard/mouse combo also remains.

But touch is rightly hogging the headlines.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the new Office "will fully light-up when paired with Windows 8" and its interface keeps perfect time with Windows 8's coloured tiles, which always bring to mind Saturday Night Fever.

That probably says more about me than it does Windows 8 though, but if you're going to rip me for my love of flares and medallions I may as well keep the link going for a second.

Like Tony Manero, the new Office looks lean and it looks mean whether at work or play. Unlike Tony Manero, you can now run your hands all over it.

But how do we get our fingers and thumbs on Microsoft's new baby?

Well, it comes in a number of versions. The subscription-based Office 365 Home Premium has been the media darling of the launch, but it also comes in packages which can be purchased outright, including Office Home & Student 2013, Office Home & Business 2013 and Office Professional 2013.

Those opting to pay an annual subscription with Office 365 Home Premium will get one year's access on up to five PCs, Macs, laptops or tablets, and if your circumstances change, so can the devices you've registered - easy.  

Home Premium also delivers more SkyDrive storage, with an additional 20GB included for those with big appetites for data.

Microsoft launched the new Office in central London, alongside figures showing how the cloud was revolutionising our working lives. A poll of 2,000 people found 44% felt mobile technology such as cloud working had improved their working lives, while a similar percentage said it had freed up more of their time.

And what do we like doing with our free time? Chatting to friends online via Skype and Twitter, of course. Whether using our tablet or laptop, we're never more than a swipe from social networking sites these days.

Microsoft has recognised this, and blended social networking into Office thanks to a Twitter plug in which allows us to keep tabs on friends' tweets as well as those of the celebs we're stalking.

But sometimes what you want to say just cannot be crafted into a 140-character tweet. As Bob Hoskins once said: "it's good to talk" - and Skype is all about talking. The video-calling service has revolutionised how we chat, so it's only natural it appears on the revolutionary Office.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, but all play and no work leaves him skint. The new Office boasts many features to make our working lives easier, such as the option to take notes with touch, pen or keyboard and keep them in the cloud. Word offers new Object Zoom for viewing tables and charts, while Excel brings Flash Fill for formatting.

Jaw-dropping innovations unveiled at CES 2013 have started the year in true rip it up and start again fashion, and the new Office captures the year-zero punk spirit of the times.
Vive Le Rock.