Microsoft launches new Office for consumers

Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:47pm EST
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By Bill Rigby

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp launched new Office software for home users on Tuesday, featuring constantly updated, online access to documents from all kinds of devices as the world's largest software company attempts to tailor its most profitable product to a mobile generation.

The new Office suite of applications - including desktop staples Outlook email, Excel, Word and PowerPoint - is aimed at home users rather than businesses, and is designed to extend Microsoft's domination of the workplace to the home office and beat back growing competition from Google Inc's free online apps.

"The notion of an always up-to-date streaming version of Office comes directly from how people are using devices today," said Kurt DelBene, head of Microsoft's Office unit, in a phone interview. "You really want all your content to roam with you. We see that as an opportunity to deliver what customers are asking for."

The version of the new software launched on Tuesday, called Office 365 Home Premium, is the first major overhaul of Office since 2010. Big companies, which generally buy Microsoft's software under multi-year contracts, already got the latest features of the new Office in December.

Tuesday was the first look for individual customers, and initial reactions were positive at Microsoft's flagship Seattle store.

"It looks badass. And that whole touch-screen thing now," said Kouichi Armga, 25, who works at Trader Joe's grocery store and studies at the University of Washington in Tacoma, after seeing the new Office run on touch-screen hardware.

"It was actually very impressive," said Jeremy Payne, 26, from Olympia, Washington, who works in retail and is studying public relations at the local Evergreen State College. "The biggest thing was the new PowerPoint. I was really excited to see the new PowerPoint."

Payne, an avowed Apple Inc enthusiast, said the new Office was "really rad," but it might be hard to drag Mac users away from their Apple-centered world.   Continued...

A Microsoft Office logo is shown on display at a Microsoft retail store in San Diego January 18, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Blake