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Office 15 Beta Coming Soon

By Matt Simpson - Thursday, February 02, 2012

By this summer, the public beta for Microsoft’s next version of its ultra popular suite of productivity software should be available for everyone to get their grubby little hands on.
The last iteration of MS Office has been out for awhile now, with its official name being Office 2010. Whether or not the currently named Office 15 will get a new name is undecided, but so is the actual release date.

While the public beta signifies that the product is essentially ready for release here will be plenty of time between the release of the beta and the final version. This allows Microsoft to find any bugs that they may have missed in internal testing. Some will say that the company spends far too little time in the beta process. If you have seen the number of patches and hot fixes that the company releases for each version of Office that comes out, it’s a point that is difficult to argue.

History

There was a time when Corel and its WordPerfect software was the favored word processor. In fact, at that time, there were several different suites of productivity software to choose from. Today, there is just Microsoft. The company has maneuvered and purchased their way into a virtual monopoly of the productivity software segment. Office has even moved to the platform of Microsoft’s own arch nemesis, the Mac. You are very unlikely to see a business today using anything except for Office.

The Competition

Sure, you have Open Office available, which has mainly been able to stay afloat due to the Linux communities, who have supported it for many years as an alternative to the behemoth that is MS Office. There is no real competition for Office in terms of sales or licensed copies in use, but there is one suite that is catching the eye of many otherwise content office user and those are jaded alike. That is Google Apps. The free to use software has been designed from the ground up in the last few years, while the core of Office dates back over a decade. There are many features that Google brings to the table that users wish Office included and many more that Office has added after seeing them in action by Google.

The main benefit being that the Google Apps operate solely in the cloud, so you have access to not only your documents, but the applications themselves from anywhere, without the need for a software install. Microsoft watches this software very closely even if they publicly don’t pay it much heed. We can expect the new version of Office to take even more queues from Google as Microsoft is not above taking the ideas of other and incorporating them in order to stay relevant.

The Problem

Office 15 has some real roadblocks to get past before we see it on every PC. The software from Google is an increasing one. As people find they need more than their current version of Office allows, they may choose to try the free software from Google. For many, once they try it, paying for solutions from MS seems a poor option. In truth the biggest competitor for the new version of Office is going to be, Office.

There have been few compelling reasons to upgrade to the newer versions of late it’s not that MS isn’t innovating, but they aren’t making practical innovations. Even those who own the newer versions likely aren’t using many, if any of the new features that separate Office 2010, from say, Office 2003. In fact, Office 2000 and 2003 are still the most common versions of Office installed. Even changing the format of Office files didn’t help and most people fall back on the prior generation compatible file types, with the new ones being a nuisance rather than a boon. Hopefully, MS has something truly worth the price of admission planned.




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