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Microsoft clarifies Office landscape, free for mobile

Remember the days when Microsoft was derided for having half a dozen editions to choose from, much to the exasperation of many consumers. While Redmond has now tried to streamline things a bit, rallying behind the single “Windows 10” banner, it seems that bad habits are really that hard to break. Especially when it comes to its Office suite. Microsoft’s incursion into mobile, and not just on its own platform, has required a slight shift in its business model. In order to prepare consumers for the storm ahead, Microsoft is trying to give some tidbits on how it plans to move forward, across all the devices, platforms, and user categories they now cover.

Office 365 is here to stay, that’s for sure. Home, Personal, and Business what have you. The subscriptions remain the same and the delineation between user tiers and their corresponding features remain unchanged. Users will still have to pony up an annual fee to get access to certain features anywhere and wherever they are and on whatever device they might be using, whether it be mobile or otherwise.

Then there’s the Office that was designed for mobile and for touch. Microsoft will call the next version of this suite as Office for Windows 10, though it will likely take on a different name for iOS and Android. This version, according to Office director for the UK Richard Ellis, has been designed completely for touch devices, whether tablet or smartphone, and for working on the go. Corporate VP for Office 365 Kirk Koenigsbauer goes further and clarifies mobile as any device with a screen equal to or less than 10.1 inches, which qualifies a great many tablets as well. Or anything that doesn’t have a “Pro” status. For this range of devices, The mobile Office suite will be offered for free, allowing users to do basic viewing and editing. Of course, functionality will be limited and even the apps themselves will be limited to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook. So yes, tablets and smartphones will continue to get Microsoft Office for free.

And then there’s the hulking Office 2024, the full-featured suite that’s meant to give the full power of Microsoft’s productivity suite. And, naturally, bear the full price as well. Unsurprisingly, these software will require the use of a physical keyboard and mouse, at least for maximum efficiency. Of course, Office 2024 will work on Windows 10, in desktop mode at least, as well as some older versions of Windows. The suite will launch much later after Windows 10, around the second half of 2024.

Despite preaching and calling for universal apps that work across all devices and screen sizes, Microsoft itself won’t be following completely, at least as far as its biggest product is concerned. And perhaps it’s for the best, given how Office users are usually slower to adapt to big changes, as the Ribbon interface proved. But perhaps there will come a time when Microsoft will further narrow down its product names and editions to keep things simple. At least until the day when they can really offer on single Office suite to rule them all.

SOURCE: TechRadar, Microsoft

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The Best Free Alternatives For Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office has been ruling the roost since it first came onto the scene back in 1990. Say what you will about its price and its stubborn use of proprietary formats that have more or less monopolized the industry, but its 2024 iteration is pretty damn good, and people and businesses who fork out big cash on it generally don’t feel short-changed.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t function perfectly well with some of the free Office alternatives which often come with their own perks that outdo those of Microsoft’s baby. There are many reasons not to want to be part of Microsoft’s ecosystem – privacy concerns, monopolization, lack of open source – and these fine software specimens will help you leave it.

Let’s take a look at four of our favorite (free) alternatives for Microsoft Office.

WPS Office (Formerly Kingsoft Office)

Compatibility: Windows, Linux, iOS, Android

If you’re ready to jump overboard from the Microsoft ship yet want to retain the overall look and feel of it, then WPS Office does a damn fine job of making you forget that you’re not using MS Office. Like Microsoft’s more recent Office iterations, it has a banner-based interface with “Home,” “Insert,” and similar buttons rather than the traditional “File,” “Edit,” etc. that you find on many of the options listed here.

It supports all the proprietary Microsoft formats, making the transition seamless and also has the bonus of coming with a nifty PDF reader. Unlike many of the other free Office alternatives, WPS also packs 1GB free cloud storage. (Hey, don’t snicker. Back in my day only millionaires could afford that kind of storage capacity, and “cloud” was just a word for those puffy things in the sky.)

For such a light package, WPS looks and feels the part. Chinese developer Kingsoft has really gone all out in providing not so much an alternative to Office but almost a mirror image of it!

LibreOffice

Compatibility: Windows, macOS, Linux

The office suite from the people who formerly worked on the now-defunct OpenOffice, LibreOffice is the natural continuation of the open-source dream that began all the way back with StarOffice in 1985. (Yep, that kind of makes it older than Microsoft Office!)

In this free office suite you have equivalents to Word, Excel and PowerPoint. While Draw is a diagramming tool similar to Visio, Math is used for creating complex mathematical formulae, and Base is Libre’s answer to Microsoft Access, allowing creation and management of databases.

FreeOffice

Compatibility: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android

If you’re looking for something a little more intuitive and perhaps not quite as feature heavy, then you may prefer FreeOffice over Libre. It’s super-compatible with Microsoft’s infamous yet omnipresent formats – .doc, .xls, .ppt and so on – and lets you export in formats such as the common PDF and the not-so-common ePub e-book format.

FreeOffice only features the standard three programs – its answers to Word, Excel and PowerPoint – but for most people these will suffice, negating the clutter of extra software.

Something to bear in mind is that while FreeOffice is indeed free, you will need to apply for a product key to get it running. This shouldn’t be a problem, however, and as far as I know you won’t get rejected.

Google Drive

Compatibility: Windows, macOS, Linux (unofficial), Android, iOS

This is kind of an obvious one and at the same time a controversial one. Google Drive‘s holy trinity of Docs, Sheets and Slides has triggered a mass exodus of around 800 million people so far towards a cloud-based way of working.

None of the office apps in Google Drive are as feature-rich as the dedicated, hard drive-based suites I mentioned before, but they make up for it with seamless syncing across devices, instantaneous auto-saving, and excellent options for collaboration, allowing multiple people to work on the same documents simultaneously and easily communicate with each other while they work.

It’s lightweight compared to the competition in some ways (fitting, given its cloud-based nature), but the Google Drive suite is a must-have, even if you end up using it alongside your existing office suite rather than instead of it.

Conclusion

Robert Zak

Content Manager at Make Tech Easier. Enjoys Android, Windows, and tinkering with retro console emulation to breaking point.

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Microsoft Office 365 Goes Live

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer launched the much-awaited Office 365 on Tuesday, after a beta program of about nine months, as the company responds — some critics say belatedly — to the rising popularity of cloud-based applications for collaboration and communication.

“Office 365 is where Office meets the cloud,” Ballmer said at an event in New York.

Video: Ballmer Launches Microsoft Office 365

Office 365 is the next version of the BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) collaboration and communication suite. Among the main improvements in Office 365 is that its applications, including Exchange Online and SharePoint Online, are based on the 2010 version of their on-premise counterparts, while BPOS’ are based on the 2007 version. Office 365 also comes with Lync Online, which is an upgrade to Office Communications Online.

Also significant is that Office 365 offers customers the option to have Office productivity applications like Word and Excel either through Office Web Apps — the online version of Office — or through the full-fledged, on-premise Office Professional Plus 2010 delivered via a subscription model.

Office 365 comes in a variety of configuration options, starting from an e-mail only version that costs US$2 per user, per month, to the most sophisticated option with Office Professional Plus and voice communications capabilities with Lync Server on premises, which costs $27 per user per month. Lync Server is the next version of Office Communications Server. A version tailored for small businesses with 25 or fewer end users costs $6 per user per month.

Ballmer stressed that Office 365 is designed for businesses of all sizes. More than 70 percent of the about 200,000 companies that beta-tested Office 365 were small and medium-size businesses, he said.

Officials demonstrated Office 365 capabilities, like the ability for multiple users to jointly collaborate and edit documents in real time, not only from PC browsers but also from mobile devices.

“Collaboration is critical for business growth,” Ballmer said.

Microsoft also announced that Bell Canada, Intuit, NTT Communications, Telefonica, Telstra and Vodafone are some of the partners that will resell Office 365 with their own services.

With Office 365, Microsoft is responding to an explosion in recent years of cloud-based enterprise collaboration and communication suites from a variety of large and niche vendors alike, including big names like Google, Cisco, IBM, VMware and Novell and specialists like Jive Software, Socialtext, chúng tôi and Zoho.

The primary competitor is Google’s Apps suite, which industry experts consider the biggest threat to Microsoft’s communications and collaboration products, both on-premise and on the cloud.

Since the announcement of Office 365 in October of last year, expectations have been growing, and Google has been intensifying its competitive rhetoric.

“While Office 365 does put Microsoft in mortal combat with Google, it is not really an existential threat for Google since Microsoft is essentially validating the model that Google pioneered with Google Apps. I would expect that Office 365 actually heightens interest in Google Apps,” Gartner analyst Matt Cain said via e-mail.

Ultimately, time will tell how successful the concept of cloud-based productivity and collaboration tools ends up being. “Time, and I mean 3-5 years, will prove or disprove the soundness of the model in terms of economics, security, stability and functionality. The first 20 percent of the business community that moves to the cloud will act as a proxy for the rest of the business world,” Cain said.

In recent months, Microsoft has struggled with several major outages affecting BPOS, which have made some critics question whether Microsoft will be able to live up to its 99.9 percent uptime service level agreement for Office 365.

With Office 365, Microsoft is also trying to consolidate the branding and technology base for various cloud-based suites it has developed in recent years, such as BPOS, Office Web Apps and Live@edu.

Office 365 has also been designed to interact natively with the on-premise versions of SharePoint, Exchange, Lync and Office.

In addition, the different Office 365 options let Microsoft position it for small and medium-size businesses as well as enterprises, where IT administrators get flexibility over the amount of functionality they offer to different types of employees, he said via e-mail.

“There are obviously issues of feature parity between Lync Online, SharePoint Online and Web Apps, and their on-premises relatives, but Microsoft promotes a hybrid model — keeping some stuff on-premises — that will let enterprises be strategic in what they move to the cloud,” Keitt said.

Existing BPOS customers have a window of 12 months to migrate to Office 365, a process that Microsoft maintains will be straightforward, even for small businesses.

However, Office 365 doesn’t work with some older Microsoft desktop and server software that BPOS still supports, so customers, especially those who want Office 365 to interact with on-premise Microsoft applications, will likely face the need to do software upgrades.

For example, Office 365 can’t be used with desktop Office versions earlier than Office 2007 SP2, which means it doesn’t work with Office 2003 and Outlook 2003.

How To Run Microsoft Office On Chromebook

Chromebooks are affordable, fast, and simple, but they lack some desktop-level software many of you need. Office users can do just about everything through Google Drive. As great as that is, most of us are used to Microsoft Office apps like Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. Luckily, it’s still possible to use Microsoft Office on Chromebook devices.

You can’t install desktop versions of Office on a Chromebook, but you still have quite a few options. Depending on your Chromebook’s software, you can use Office in a somewhat limited capacity.

Editor’s note: All instructions in this tutorial were put together using a Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook running ChromeOS version 106.0.5249.112 and a custom PC running Windows 11. Keep in mind that steps may differ if you use different devices or software versions.

Microsoft Office mobile apps on Chromebook

Microsoft used to offer Microsoft Office mobile apps for Chromebook but has now retired them. The recommended way to use Office on your Chromebook now is to use Microsoft Office on the web.

If you have the apps installed already, they will continue to work until the versions are no longer supported. However, you cannot install the apps anymore. Likewise, you can try to use the Microsoft OneDrive app, but it’s very limited. You can’t create new documents, and editing them doesn’t offer many features. Thankfully, Microsoft Office on the web is pretty solid, and you can follow the instructions below to use it on your Chromebook.

Microsoft Office on the web

Stream from your PC to a Chromebook

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Another option is to run Microsoft Office on a PC and stream it to your Chromebook. This might be beneficial because you can run the full desktop version made for a PC. It will have all the features and no compromises. The main downside is that you need another computer, so you might as well use the device with a full desktop OS. However, it’s an excellent way to use Microsoft Office on Chromebook computers when on the go.

Before you start, make sure you have Microsoft Office and Google Chrome installed on your PC. Also, ensure a stable internet connection on your PC and Chromebook.

How to set up Chrome Remote Desktop:

Open the Chrome browser on your PC and visit the Chrome Remote Desktop website.

Under the Set up remote access section, select Turn on.

Install the Chrome Remote Desktop extension on your PC.

Return to the original tab on your PC and name your computer.

If prompted, enter the PIN you created on your PC.

Now you can use your PC remotely using your Chromebook. Go to the Chrome Remote Desktop website from the Chrome OS device and access the PC you set up.

You could also use a PC cloud service like Shadow. This company offers Windows machines you can access remotely through any compatible device. Supported operating systems include Windows, macOS, Ubuntu, Android, and iOS. You won’t see Chrome OS on the list, but remember, Chromebooks can run Android apps. Once set up, you could install Microsoft Office on your remote Windows machine and stream it. Just keep in mind Shadow isn’t exactly cheap — prices start at $29.99 a month.

You can also try to install Windows on a Chromebook, but we don’t recommend it. It involves too much tinkering, and the system might not work correctly.

FAQs

There is no official way to run Microsoft Office apps on a Chromebook, but you can use the web apps and find a few other workarounds.

There used to be Microsoft Office Android apps, but they’ve been discontinued. You can continue using them but can’t download the apps anymore.

Microsoft Office is an excellent tool with a long history, but it’s not the only option. If you’re looking for an alternative, you should try Google Drive.

Excel on a Chromebook is different primarily because it doesn’t run traditional desktop software, like the full version of Microsoft Excel.

Microsoft Describes Portrait And Landscape Support In Windows 8 Tablets

Microsoft describes the work they have been doing on the portrait and landscape support in Windows 8 on a new blog post this week.

The software giant has detailed their approach for other aspect that many people thought was overlooked in the many demonstrations of Windows 8. The company has spent a large number of hours testing and studying how people used tablet devices in labs and in their homes, and with the study they were able to work out users body postures, movements and interactions with various applications. “The number of combinations was staggering, contributing to the basic conclusion that postures, grips, and orientations change fairly frequently”, said David Washington. “Simply put, there’s no one way to hold a device and people naturally seek to find a comfortable position and orientation that feels right for what they are doing with the device at the time.”

Rotation in Windows is fast and fluid.

You can easily rotate your tablet to best suit your task or ergonomic posture.

Developers can easily build high quality and intentional landscape and portrait layouts, depending on the experiences they want to enable.

Windows rotates predictably across the system and apps – keeping the user in control.

Windows 8 Landscape mode

Microsoft supports landscape mode as the most common way to experience Windows, this being in a desktop, laptop or tablet PC. “We’ve designed Windows 8 to be ergonomically comfortable in all orientations. We found that a comfortable posture for using a tablet in landscape is to hold in both hands and touch the screen with your thumbs. For this reason, we’ve designed the majority of the experience to be easily accessible under your thumbs. We also optimized the system to scroll horizontally, which feels fast and fluid in landscape as well as in portrait mode.” -Said Washington.

Windows 8 Portrait mode

Microsoft’s studies have shown that portrait is more used when reading a web page, viewing pictures, and scrolling though emails, because the user can cover more real state. Knowing this, the company tweak Windows 8 design like the on-screen keyboard, file picker, and the new charms to work in portrait as efficient as it works in landscape mode, and switching between modes just works.

Windows 8 Rotation mode

The software maker has put a lot of time working in a seamless rotation between modes, making the experience as smooth as possible or as they call it “fast and fluid”. Microsoft stabilizes the accelerometer in a Windows 8 device before the rotation starts. This is a technique that prevents accidental rotation.

Different screens and aspect ratios

Windows 8 is designed to adapt to any screen and aspect ratio, from the traditional 4:3 square to the 16:9 widescreen and anything in between. Windows will adapt itself and apps to the screen and ratio on the fly. Just keep in mind that for Windows 8 Metro apps to work well, you’ll need a minimum screen resolution of 1024×768. This minimum resolution requirement will ensure that users don’t brake app layouts due to small screen sizes, as we are already seeing some users with this issue.

Source Building Windows 8 blog

Microsoft To Add Pdf, Odf Support To Office 2007

Microsoft announced that it will extend the file format range supported by its Office 2007 package. ODF 1.1, PDF 1.5 and XPS will be added with the next service pack, but the integration of Microsoft’s own and recently standardized Office Open XML will be delayed until Office 14. Microsoft appears to be following through with its “interoperability principles” and today announced that it will be adding support for XML Paper Specification format (XPS), Portable Document Format (PDF) 1.5, PDF/A and Open Document Format (ODF) v1.1 to Office 2007. The added functionality is scheduled to arrive in 2009 as part of the Office 2007 SP2 update. Surprisingly, Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) format, recently approved as Standard ISO/IEC 29500, will not make it into the SP2. While the format is already “substantially” supported in Office 2007, there are differences over IS29500 – and these changes will not be implemented until the release of Office 2014. This completely new Office package is expected to be released in tandem with Windows 7, which is rumored to be released in late 2009 or early 2010. ODF support has been available to Office users via a format bridge, which Microsoft provided through its Open XML-ODF translator project on chúng tôi The company said it will continue this effort to provide ODF support for users of earlier versions of Office XP and Office 2003. As part of its decision to integrate ODF support into its software, Microsoft will join the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) technical committee, which is working on the next version of ODF. The company said it will also take part in the ISO/IEC working group being formed to work on ODF maintenance.

Microsoft appears to be following through with its “interoperability principles” and today announced that it will be adding support for XML Paper Specification format (XPS), Portable Document Format (PDF) 1.5, PDF/A and Open Document Format (ODF) v1.1 to Office 2007. The added functionality is scheduled to arrive in 2009 as part of the Office 2007 SP2 update. Surprisingly, Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) format, recently approved as Standard ISO/IEC 29500, will not make it into the SP2. While the format is already “substantially” supported in Office 2007, there are differences over IS29500 – and these changes will not be implemented until the release of Office 2014. This completely new Office package is expected to be released in tandem with Windows 7, which is rumored to be released in late 2009 or early 2010. ODF support has been available to Office users via a format bridge, which Microsoft provided through its Open XML-ODF translator project on chúng tôi The company said it will continue this effort to provide ODF support for users of earlier versions of Office XP and Office 2003. As part of its decision to integrate ODF support into its software, Microsoft will join the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) technical committee, which is working on the next version of ODF. The company said it will also take part in the ISO/IEC working group being formed to work on ODF maintenance.

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