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Microsoft Opens Office 14 Kimono, Slightly

The follow-up to Office 2007 will include lightweight browser-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote that focus on collaboration.

Microsoft also intends to use its Windows Azure cloud computing platform more and more to power applications like Exchange Online and SharePoint Online, which should get significant updates when their on-premises analogs are updated with Office 14. Exchange Online, for example, already uses Azure for identity services. That means companies that want to migrate from Exchange to Exchange Online don't have to manage separate directories on premises and in the cloud.

The Web isn't the only medium where Microsoft is broadening Office's reach. Microsoft also plans to bulk up Office Mobile as part of the Office 14 wave of releases. With smartphones becoming more prevalent, more and more people are using applications like Outlook Mobile.

In Office Mobile for Office 14, for example, mobile device users won't just be able to view Office documents, as they can today. They'll also be able to annotate them, collaborate, and do things like work more closely with SharePoint. "Office Web Applications become far more important given that smart phones are taking up a far larger percentage of the overall mix of phones that are shipping in the world," Capossela said.

Among the collaboration features, along with the ability to simultaneously edit documents as has already been discussed, Office 14 will offer the ability to more easily capture Web content and put it into documents or share it. "Multiuser authoring is fun and interesting, but also just being able to go out and peruse the Internet and grab video files, pictures, and snippets and automatically have them sourced when you put them in your document, those are new styles of researching and collaborating that are really important," Capossela said.

It's still too early for Microsoft to begin talking about the price of Office 14, but don't expect any huge price swings. "We feel incredibly good about the price of Office," Capossela said, pointing to Office 2007's success. "We've never had more people buying Office at retail than we've had with Office 2007."

In what other ways is Microsoft changing its business model? InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on overhauling Microsoft. Download the report here (registration required).

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