A New Look for a New Office

*Disclaimer – I am part of a group of Microsoft Office users who enjoy the product and enjoy getting the word (or Word) out about it.  I collaborate with Microsoft and other users to better understand the software they are developing  for Office and the hardware it will work within.

One Office Just recently, Microsoft announced its One Drive cloud file storage service (formerly known as SkyDrive.)  As part of the redesign, Microsoft introduced an elegant format for the online Office components called Office One, formerly known as Office Web Apps.  For those of you not familiar with SkyDrive or Office Web apps, these are free services/applications available to subscribers to Hotmail, Live and Outlook e-mail accounts.

So what does free get you?  Well, look at the screen above.  For no cost you have access to the web versions of Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Outlook , Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft OneNote, in addition to your online calendar and contacts.  When you have set up your free e-mail account, you access your Office Online by typing https://office.live.com .

Whether you have an account or not, the above link is the starting point. Using an existing Hotmail, Live or Outlook  e-mail address and the associated password,  you can just sign in.  Without an account just click on the See all Office options button to access the subscription link to create a free account.

Just a few key points:

1) These online versions of the Microsoft Office software are closer to Microsoft Office software located on computers than any other web based office software service (such as Google Drive or Zoho Office suite.)  There is very little the Office Online program suite can’t do (I’ll talk about each Online Office app in future posts.)  While not quite as powerful as their Office365 counterparts, these Online programs provide 90% of the functions of the desktop versions and will be able to handle with ease almost all tasks thrown at them.

2) These programs come with templates.  Instead of making you start from scratch, Microsoft includes and abundant selection of templates for you to use, so you don’t have to recreate a wheel (more on that later.)

3) All of these programs will save the files they create to your One Drive.  The data is saved automatically and you don’t have to worry about hitting the “Save” command.  As long as you can connect to the web, you can get your files.

4) All files you create can be opened by various versions of Microsoft Office which is on your computer.

5) You can view and edit your documents on your computer, your tablet, or your phone – web access is all that’s needed.  I’ve tried it on Android and IPad and it works as promised.

Is Microsoft Office key to being useful in today’s workplace?  I think so.  Right now, companies are placing a high value on fluency in Office technology.  Each person I work with is expected to use Outlook, Excel, Word and PowerPoint to get their job done and to communicate clearly and effectively.  Here’s a link to a research showing just how important this is: http://msft.it/603155s5.  Having Office technology for free can be very empowering.

Elegance is simple, easy to understand, consistent and captures attention and thoughts with ease.  This new Office Online is elegant.