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Microsoft Software

Ballmer Hints At 'Metro-ization' of Office 302

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-making-up-words dept.
CWmike writes "Microsoft's CEO strongly hinted this week that the company will craft a Metro-style version of the next Office suite. 'You ought to expect that we are rethinking and working hard on what it would mean to do Office Metro style,' Ballmer told a Wall Street analyst. Metro, a tile- and touch-based interface borrowed from Windows Phone 7, would be a massive change for Office, one that would dwarf the 'ribbonization' that set off a firestorm of complaints about Office 2007's new look. The criticism died down, and Microsoft later extended the ribbon in Office 2010 and Windows 7. It will ribbonize other components of Windows 8, notably the OS's file manager. One analyst believes Metro Office is a done deal. 'I think they need something in Metro to enable people to work on documents on tablets,' said Rob Helm, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft. 'They need something on ARM.'"
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Ballmer Hints At 'Metro-ization' of Office

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  • Stacks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MikShapi (681808) on Friday September 16, 2011 @07:21PM (#37425448) Journal

    So here's the thing. Big tech is all about the verticals nowadays. Here's my future.

    Apple showed us how it's done - having the CPU, the iDevice, the OS, developing carrier relations, an app store, a lot of apps and a developer community, and now a cross-device cloud service. Apple makes most of its money from the devices by the way.

    Google's not letting down. After Eric Shmidt and Larry Page had their disagreement on whether Google should be fleshing out its own stack or consolidating around its "core business" (see Yahoo for why I believe that's a BAD strategy), Eric left and Larry went to work. They thought about their stack - same stack as Apple only top-down and with only part of the components - the cloud services, the OS, the app store and developer community, and its minor foray into the device business.

    So they bought all the stack components they were missing in one lean and mean acquisition of virtually all 'things' Motorola - the solid carrier relations worldwide, a device making capability, the "defensive" patent portfolio - and they even one-upped Apple - they got another rung down - they now make the baseband too.

    And here's where the big surprise rolled in.

    Microsoft Windows 8.

    Windows? In the mobile space? Weren't they late to the party? Aren't they dragging their feet with some distant relative of PocketPC? Wasn't their buddy Nokia about to be decimated and dismembered with cheaper ~350$ iPhone models and cheap Androids in some 100 countries with no carrier subsidies? You know, those places where Nokia still sells more phones than everyone else in the world combined? Those places where nobody buys 500$ phones?
    Apple and Google are still going to take them to pieces, right? You know, Apple driving a cloud software package and "Cord-free" in those same countries where many people don't have enough money for both a PC and a phone?

    Well... just hang on for a second and let's think about it like rational geeks who pertain to understand why Android and iPhone changed the market.
    So don't sell your microsoft stock just yet. Looks like they've been thinking it through. REAL hard.

    Remember how in 2007 a "phone" was a device? As was the music player, the GPS and to some extent the camera? Today, just like the others, the phone is an app. Sure, we call the device a "phone", but that's just legacy that stuck. Almost like calling a computer a typewriter. It's a rabidly multi-dimensional device. It's a web node, a tricorder, a content delivery platform and a bank terminal. And so much more. We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

    All this to say, a phone is an app.

    So it's 2007 all over again, only now it's Microsoft actually doing something /different/ for the first time in 24 years. It's their defining iPhone moment.

    It's all in the PC, stupid - it got commoditized, all but forgotten, but it still does al the heavy hauling of our actual work.

    And on the new breed of mobile devices - "phones", tablets and whatever follows, it is, if Microsoft have their way, going to become, plain and simple, an app.
    And not just any app mind you. It'll be the killer app that will allow a lot of people to drop their desktop or laptop.

    You'll hook your phone or tablet up to a screen and a keyboard (with or without cables), or not, launch said app, and do your word, excel, visio and other work stuff. When you close this app, under it all will be a mobile OS UI on-par (one would hope) with iOS and Android.

    Cute, but where's microsoft going to conjure the entire stack needed to pull this off? It ain't a single-layer market anymore where you can get by as a big player making just the OS or just the device....

    Microsoft isn't as bad as you'd think in their stack. They have handsets, basebands and carrier relations covered by their now best buddy Nokia, both them and Nokia have access to CPUs, they have a mobile OS that unlike Blackberry, webOS etc is actually competent, with a new kernel and the

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 16, 2011 @08:33PM (#37425898)

    Wonderful! Microsoft saved lots of people a good wad of cash when they pushed the awful ribbon onto everyone's neck - more than a quarter of the people I know now use either OpenOffice or LibreOffice thanks to that clusterfuck. And I expect that ratio will increase as it becomes more mainstream.

  • by jamrock (863246) on Friday September 16, 2011 @08:57PM (#37426054)
    As you said, of course Microsoft is working on a Metro version of Office. They'd be crazy not to be. Office is Microsoft's cash cow, the castle that all their other ventures serve to protect, and it's probably the number one reason why people continue to use Windows. They, and everyone else (including Apple), were caught flatfooted by the runaway train that is the iPad, and I'm willing to bet that its incredible success sent deep chills through the executive suites in Redmond, when they realized that an entire vast new market was developing and they didn't even have a toehold in it. People want tablets (the argument over whether they want "tablets" or iPads can wait for another day), and Microsoft is faced with a twofold challenge: to have a viable tablet OS; and to develop a version of Office that can run on it.

    Forgive me for not recalling the source, but I read a piece sometime last year about the severe political infighting inside Microsoft, and as an example the writer gave an anecdote about internal discussions concerning the creation of a touchscreen version of Office. The discussions came to an abrupt screeching halt when the head of the Office division at the time flatly refused to have anything to do with it. Try to imagine anyone at Apple telling Jobs that.

    The article painted a portrait of a deeply dysfunctional company, riven by rivalries among the various divisions, and of Ballmer's part in the creation of a nightmarish corporate culture where backstabbing and naked ambition rule. One gets the distinct impression that Microsoft under Gates was like the former Yugoslavia under Tito, with only a strong personality holding together a loose confederation of rivals. With Gates's departure (Tito's death in the case of Yugoslavia), all the bitter divisions came bubbling to the surface, and not only was Ballmer incapable of controlling it, he seemed to actively encourage it in order to weaken potential rivals, similar to Milosevic's misrule in Serbia. Now it's biting Microsoft in the ass, as they find themselves culturally ill-equipped to respond quickly to an external threat.

    As I said, they're faced with a twofold challenge, to succeed with a touchscreen device, and to have a version of Office that can run on it. Each by itself is an extremely difficult proposition. Success at both may prove to be an insurmountable problem.
  • by grapeape (137008) <`moc.rr.ck' `ta' `7epopm'> on Friday September 16, 2011 @09:52PM (#37426334) Homepage

    No kidding...with my clients I had exactly 1 that is using office 2010, all of the others actually went backwards to office 2003 after the ribbon stuff gave secretaries fits. I had one spend nearly 10 grand only to go back to the old version about 6 months later, they just couldnt adjust macros were broken, templates had issues, it was a mess.

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