Microsoft’s plans for Office 2013

After releasing the Office 2013 Consumer Preview, Simon Brew takes a look at where Microsoft plans on taking its business next.

Yammer and Skype

Microsoft is also starting to make use of some of its latest purchases. Keen to go beyond basic collaboration tools in its Office software, Microsoft recently bought business social networking service Yammer.

One purchase that's going to be more integral and more comfortably included is Skype.

Yammer is used by a growing number of firms to as a corporate information intranet service with social functions. It is too early to see Yammer fully integrated into Office in the way that Microsoft will ultimately want, but it's certainly coming. For now, Yammer is being wrapped into the Office 2013 launch as a further weapon in the Microsoft arsenal.

One purchase that's going to be more integral and more comfortably included is Skype. Microsoft paid a lot of money for the VoIP service last year, after previous owners had struggled to comfortably make the most of it. Office 2013, however, is where Microsoft clearly intends to get value for its investment.

Now, Office will come with Skype integrated, and a package that gives users 60 worldwide minutes to use every month. The firm will presumably look to sell top-ups to this package directly from within the application.

Cement

Ultimately, the challenge that Microsoft faces with Office 2013 isn't necessarily to grow the business but to cement it. It is laying down lots of bets with its approach to Windows 8, and it can afford to do that because the business division has been such a reliable performer for the firm.

Granted, the core functionality of none of the individual programs within the suite is likely to be massively different this time around, as you'd hope and expect. But it's very much a case of Microsoft needing to keep its audience interested, of needing to react to different ways of working, and ultimately, of needing to protect the biggest part of its company.

Office 2013 is a mix of the robustness and reliability of old, with enough features to keep the licence money pouring in, in theory. Office 365 builds on that. Microsoft will thus hope that between them both, its business division can continue its extraordinary run of success.

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