Microsoft Office is arguably the most popular productivity suite in the world today. Except for using Novell’s WordPerfect or my Brother word processor during my undergrad days at DePaul University, Microsoft Word has been my go-to word processing application. The same can be said of Excel for my spreadsheet work (all of the templates I produce for this column are made with Excel), PowerPoint for my presentations and Access for my database work. However, in recent years, Office has seen competition arise from OpenOffice, a free, full-featured productivity suite from Apache, and online/cloud-based alternatives such as Google Docs.
In the face of the changing computing landscape, Microsoft has deviated from history with the release of the new version of Office (Office 2013 for Windows and Office for Mac 2011) and embarked on a new business model for the package: a streaming subscription service. (While more traditional versions of Office 2013 are available with a pay-once, use-forever license, our focus in this article is on the cloud- and subscription-based version of Office 2013.) After using the service for a few months, I found that although the functionality of the underlying office apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) hasn’t changed that much, the way in which users access the programs and interact with files, documents and even other users has undergone a profound change.
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