Tech Ed 2012: Office 2013 to integrate with non-IE browsers

Vendor says it had to build a software environment that appealed to all users regardless of browser or device

Microsoft has announced that the 2013 version of its Office software will work “seamlessly” with Safari, Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer (IE) as the vendor strives to retain its global Office user base of 1 billion.

Speaking at a Tech Ed 2012 press conference on the Gold Coast, Microsoft US Office division director, Michael Atalla, told media that delivering a product that works with all browsers combined with a touch screen experience was part of what enterprise and consumer users had come to expect.

"Our approach for these platforms is to deliver a great experience by cross-platform browsers so people can read and edit documents using Safari, Chrome, Firefox and IE," he said.

“We recognise that many devices do not run Windows all the time and we respect that as an important trend of how we built the new Office."

Turning to the new features of Office 2013, software applications are designed to integrate with social media apps such as Flickr or Facebook via the cloud.

“This means Office 2013 can be delivered via cloud subscription services with software deployed streaming from the internet,” he said.

According to Atalla, the vendor had taken notes from the way consumers use social networking and applied this to the Office business environment. For example, Office users can `follow’ websites, documents and people that they work with for collaboration purposes.

However, IT managers who have to deploy the software had not been left out. Atalla said that Office 2013 would feature improved data loss prevention and enterprise information management so IT managers could keep the work environment secure.

Touch, stylus or mouse

While Office 2013 has been designed for a touch screen tablet, he said that users who preferred to use a stylus to tap the screen or navigate using a wireless mouse would not be left out.

For example, the stylus can be used as a laser pointer while the wireless mouse used to access the Outlook email, calendar or other applications. In addition, a wireless keyboard is available for users who want the option to touch type.

Another change is the simplified Outlook view. According to Atalla, users are accustomed to seeing a number of applications and folders in Outlook.

“If you have a 24-inch monitor that might make a lot of sense but with the 11-inch tablet screen you want to get some of that clutter out of your way so you can focus on the task at hand such as reading emails,” he said.

With Office 2013, folders stay out of the way while the user is reading their emails. They can also use the touch screen to reply to messages.

Business case

Turning to the benefits for IT managers who will be required to roll out Office 2013, Atalla said that the new software had integrated application virtualization technology which allows IT staff to install Office in a “more flexible way”.

According to Atalla, IT managers can have users up and running with Office in a few minutes as opposed to 30 minutes for previous rollouts.

“There is also the ability for CIOs and IT departments to manage deployment and updates to machines without having to deploy large packages of Windows installer files to a desktop,” he said.

“They can stream updates and installs of Office on a bit by bit basis.”

Hamish Barwick travelled to Tech Ed 2012 as a guest of Microsoft

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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