Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) on Monday is likely to reveal new software features crafted to jazz up Office 15, the next major upgrade of its pervasive suite of office-productivity programs.
Software giant’s core engine of profit is selling licenses for Windows computing systems bundled with the Office suite that includes Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Microsoft is under intense pressure as competitors roll out products aimed at taking away market share.
Microsoft Office 15 is expected to be available early next year, stiffening with hooks into Windows 8, the latest upgrade of its operating system software. Windows 8 will generally be available this October. Some 84% of the world’s personal computers run on Microsoft’s Windows. Many of Microsoft’s corporate customers still use an earlier version of the operating system, Windows XP and those on the current version, Windows 7 released in 2009 and paired with Office 2010, could continue with same Windows version and opt not to upgrade.
“Avoiding a version or two saves costs, and often, the new features are not critical to them, it’s critical for Microsoft to show real benefits to upgrading ” said Jack Gold, industry analyst at technology consulting firm J. Gold Associates.
Google is pushing hard to get MS Office users to switch to Google Docs which is like MS Office application suite running on Google’s servers and is easily accessible on the Internet. On the other hand Apple is defending the concept of performing clerical duties on the iPad tablet PC, which uses a touch-screen interface, instead of a old-style keyboard. Both MS Office and Google Docs do not work on the iPad.
Microsoft’s Office accounted for $22.2 billion of Microsoft’s nearly $70 billion in fiscal year 2011 revenue and $14.1 billion of operating income. It is far more than any other business units of the company.
Microsoft Corporation has kept tight shawls on Office 15, resulting in reports that it might include the ability to edit Adobe PDF documents and can even run on the iPad.
“The more devices Office 15 is accessible on, the better it is for Microsoft,” said Trip Chowdhry, managing director of Global Equities Research.
It is more likely that Office 15 will run exclusively on Windows 8 or on Windows 7. Windows 8 is a touch-friendly operating system (OS) which is scheduled for general release this fall.
One thing seems certain, when Microsoft CEO and chief pitchman Steve Ballmer takes stage on Monday’s press conference, he likely will hype Office 15′s touch capabilities.