Why is Office 2016 being compared to a Toyota Prius? Industry responds to new software

Microsoft has launched Office 2016 for Windows 10 and Mac, but it has sparked some odd comments from industry analysts.

First up, key info on the new Office itself. It’s free for Office 365 subscribers and is availabe as a one-time purchase on Macs.

Office 2016 is designed to encourage collaboration in the workplace, with integrated apps and services allowing individuals to better work together across documents.

Co-authoring can happen in Word in real-time, letting the user see what others are writing on-the-fly. Skype for Business is now available in the client apps, while Office 365 Groups is now available as part of Outlook 2016 and in an app, letting users create private or public teams.

Office 365 Planner helps teams organise their work, with the ability to create new plans, organize and assign tasks, set due dates and update status, while GigJam lets teams complete tasks and transform business processes across devices, apps and people. There are also updates to OneDrive for Business.

Features such as ‘Tell Me’ help users quickly find the right Office feature or command, while ‘Smart Lookup’ brings insights from the web straight into your documents. 

Windows 10 functionality includes Windows Hello (signing in with a look or a touch, not a password), Cortana integration and Office Mobile apps and Continuum on Windows phones (letting the phone act as a desktop).

For the enterprise, Microsoft says Office 2016 apps with Office 365 provide "the most secure Office yet". 

There’s built-in Data Loss Prevention (DLP), Multifactor Authentication, Information Rights Management and in the future Enterprise Data Protection (EDP) will launch in Windows 10, which allows more secure corporate content sharing across managed apps and network/cloud locations.

Other feature details are listed on the Microsoft Office Blog.

Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate VP for the Office Client Applications and Services team, said: "Office 2016marks a milestone in delivering new value for Office 365 subscribers with a focus on collaboration, apps that work for you, a perfect pairing with Windows 10, and security features businesses will love.

"It also marks a new model for delivery, where subscribers can expect to get more frequent updates with new features and improvements. Along with Office 2016 for Windows, today we are also releasing Office 2016 for Mac as a one-time purchase option, along with several new and enhanced Office 365 services."

Existing Office 365 customers can upgrade here.

‘Office 365 is like a Toyota Prius’

The launch of Office 365 has sparked some scathing comments from the CEO of enterprise collaboration platform Concrete, Tristan Rogers.

He said “Reading the Office 2016 feature set reminds me of a Toyota Prius. Toyota talks about the virtues of hybrid technology, and the benefits of having both a combustion engine and an electric motor. But those who have driven a Tesla know that a Prius is a halfway house, carrying the baggage of the 20th century with a malnourished electric motor and battery, making the whole thing overly heavy, slow and poorly packaged. Just like Office 2016. 

"I suppose Microsoft has no choice: it ‘owns’ the desktop, so giving it up is unthinkable, so pedalling Office 2016 as a "rich, native desktop app" is a fluffy way of making desktop software seem a bit more "hip". Fair enough, if you are the marketing team tasked with flogging it. But what if you were a technologist tasked with creating a "productivity suite" for business today? Would you come up with file based working, post social media revolution? No. Would you come up with "intelligent junk filtering”? Well, you wouldn’t introduce email in the first place so, no. And you certainly wouldn’t launch a "new" feature called "attach a copy" which allows a user to attach a copy of a file from OneDrive as an attachment to their email. Genius.

"The world has moved on, and those businesses entrenched in 20th century investments perhaps can’t help have one eye on the past, compromising their focus on the future. If Tesla can rewrite the rulebook on how cars are propelled, with no prior pedigree in auto, there is every opportunity for a software company with a clean sheet of (digital) paper to reinvent a business productivity suite for today’s customer. And I don’t think it would look like Office 2016."

Journalist love

Concrete’s comments do admittedly come across a little harsh, and are at odds to how Office 2016 has been received elsewhere, with many tech publications praising Microsoft’s new software.

Wired commented: "To succeed, Microsoft can’t just be software that you buy; it has to be the way you work. And for decades, the way millions have done their work, like or not, is on Office."

The Var Guy added: "Microsoft is trying to take Microsoft Office 2016 well beyond the realm of personal computing. In effect, it’s now a platform for collaboration. But instead of limiting that notion of collaboration to just files and documents, it’s clear that Microsoft views Office 2016 as a vehicle through which both processes and relationships will be established and managed."

And Extreme Tech said: "Office 2016 represents Microsoft’s most aggressive effort to date to make these major changes. Its services are available across most platforms, and its revenue is increasingly platform neutral – since it gets subscription revenue independent of which platform you use to access the services."

What do you think of Office 2016? Let us know in the comments section below or email us.

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