Microsoft pushes further into cloud and Web 2.0

New Microsoft Office and SharePoint 2010 have strong emphasis on cloud and Web 2.0 capabilities.

Microsoft has launched its Office and SharePoint 2010 offerings with a strong emphasis on cloud and Web 2.0 capabilities.

Office has been imbued with social networking capabilities for a business arena. For example, instant messaging can be launched within Word documents and content can be edited by multiple users at the same time.

“We have brought the social network that in some ways many of us may embrace in our personal lives and a lot less in our business lives,” Microsoft Australia managing director, Tracey Fellows, said. “But we are bringing that into business and that is really about improving ways we can collaborate.”

Work between geographically scattered business units and external business partners can be shared in SharePoint via a public or private cloud.

Microsoft is touting flexibility for private and public cloud hybrids depending on a customer’s preference.

The vendor made its push to the cloud with its Windows Azure platform, which landed in Australian last month.

Office Web Applications are the online companions to Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote. This cloud product set gives users access to documents remotely through a web-browser.

“In this release of Office and SharePoint, we have taken a broader view of browsers,” Microsoft office business productivity group vice-president, Kirk Koenigsbauer, said. “The world is clearly shifting in terms of browser share of usage so we have certainly adapted to that,”

The products have full support for Internet Explorer 7 and above, as well as Firefox and Apple’s Safari.

Other notable new features in Office include the ability for video editing in PowerPoint and improved email management in Outlook.

Desktop integration and consultancy firm, Fastrack Technology, had been offering Microsoft Office and SharePoint 2010 to customers three months ago.

Managing director, Yoni Kirsh, said the products will appeal to businesses of all sizes.

“There is something for everybody in this new release whether it is SMBs, mid-sized or enterprise,” he said. “[Outlook’s integration] with Linkedin and Facebook; that kind of functionality will really be brought home on an individual level.”

Social networking applications such as instant messenger (IM) have long been the bane of enterprise organisations with numerous workers.

Security is one aspect as users may, intentionally or unintentionally, share confidential documents through IM as well as waste business time chatting and not completing work.

“It’s all about control,” Kirsh said. “As long as you have control over how interactions take place and not doing something that will breach compliance or impact productivity of users, we find enterprises are quite open with it.”

Microsoft Office and SharePoint 2010 will be available to consumers on June 15.

Customers can purchase subscriptions for Office Web Applications as part of Microsoft Online services.

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