A ribbon-cutting for Microsoft's new Office online feature

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This article appeared in the July 2018 issue of CRN magazine.

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A ribbon-cutting for Microsoft's new Office online feature

COMMENT  When Microsoft took its Office suite up into the cloud, it renamed it Office 365, which the marketeers obviously thought was a good indication that you’d use the software every day. Except on 29 February. Otherwise it would have to be called Office 366 in leap years.

Microsoft was a late believer in all things cloud, but as usual, when the company gets onto something it gets onto it big time and becomes evangelical about it. Now, only Amazon has more cloud to offer, and the news for mere mortals is that we can use the Office suite online in a browser.

When this was first offered, it was a bit clunky, but Google has managed to keep a whole lot of people satisfied with its Google Docs cloud-based app, and that pig started clunky and stayed clunky. Maybe they’re not so much satisfied, but tolerant. At least you can use the Google app from any browser. And email it to yourself to fix it in Word on your laptop later.

Microsoft claims more than a billion people use Office. But no matter, they’ve decided to tart it up anyway, by improving the interface.

And why not? Pissing off a billion people is not the sole right of Facebook. Any tech company can do it. The changes have been thoroughly researched and everyone will just love the new look. But just in case, the old look is one click away.

Still, this is definitely better than the derelict decision to just drop the ribbon on unsuspecting users when it first arrived in Office 2007. Hands up if you took six months to find any feature after that turned up on your desktop. Hands up if you still can’t find some features. No need for a show of hands if you wish they’d never taken WordPerfect away. That’s just silly. It was horrid.

Apart from looking less cluttered, unless you activate full-metal-ribbon, Office 365 in the cloud is now faster. Well that’s what Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for Office and Windows marketing said. And surely, he’d know. Because everything we were told about Windows 10 turned out to be totally accurate.
Hands down. No more questions.

Given that Microsoft has been fairly successful in converting users to a $10 per month (yeah, yeah, cheaper for businesses) subscription model for Office 365, everyone is going to get this upgrade whether they want it or not, so you’d better get used to it. Ribbon on. Ribbon off. It’s just a click. Colour me bored already.

The upside of this focus on the interface is that we’re not being offered a slew of new features. Hands up if you use more than 20 percent of the features in Word. Hands up
if you even knew there were more features
in Word than the ones you use. Hands up again if you just send your document to someone else who knows about those other features when you need to use them. Yep.

Gotta go! Document arrived for featurising!   

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