Richard Edgerton | 5 April 2013
Microsoft Office 365 at home, Microsoft Office 365 at work and Microsoft Office 2013 are all now available providing a comprehensive suite of solutions but which is right for your organisation. Maybe a combination.
Back in 2011 Microsoft introduced what has become a fundamental
shift in the way that we purchase and use products from its Office
suite. Office 365 was unveiled to the world replacing the BPOS
Office online as we see it now started to appear along with cloud storage of your documents and mailbox.
There have been hints as Microsoft Office has evolved that we would be looking at different ways of getting to and using the applications we need. PowerPoint was one of the first to offer the capability to broadcast and share your presentations albeit initially across an organisation's network.
We still have the capability to use a local installation of Office with 2013 and no doubt many organisations will still deploy to a desktop estate in this way. However, the latest version looks to connect across networks and through the cloud encouraging us to store documents in SharePoint or SkyDrive so that we can access them anywhere.
This is one of the main design tenets behind Office 365 whether that be for commercial use or at home. Full application capability, if it is required, is still to be found in the Office 2013 suite pretty much regardless of which applications you need to use. The online versions are catching up fast though.
The increases in the capabilities of the online or web based versions of the apps means the gap is closing and closing fast. At present, fully featured documents are created using a traditional Office 2013 style suite and then light touch editing and viewing is the domain of its web app cousins.mSoon, assuming the current rate of
development is maintained, the lines segregating capabilities will blur and perhaps ultimately disappear completely.
Are there any advantages from using just the web based versions of applications?
The answer depends on whether you need the full capabilities of the desktop suites. If all you need is the capability to create basic documents in Word, Excel or say PowerPoint and are happy with your mailbox in the cloud then head for the sky. Get to your documents and applications from anywhere using a web browser happy with the knowledge that they are backed up and available at any time.
Another advantage to using the web apps lies in their development. You are always using the latest version and updates are automatically applied by Microsoft. Might sound like a utopian state but there will be downsides. No web access no documents is a possibility. Whilst the likelihood that the service will go down is really pretty small there is always the risk that connectivity issues prevent you from getting to what you need. Just like using the smart phone although dead spots are increasingly rare.
The possibility that your documents may not be available or the need to use more advanced functionality that the desktop versions offer will probably lead to a combination of services being utilised.
Here at QA we adopt a mixed approach. I use local and web based Microsoft Office applications together with SharePoint both on premise and in the cloud and I find that the combination provides the most flexible solution to meet my requirements. Talking to our clients it seems that this is the way forward for the majority.
Each organisation will have its own slant on how it needs to use the applications and therefore how they are made available. Combinations will undoubtedly bubble up as people find the ways they need to work - take BYOD but then that's another story.