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back to article Should Microsoft merge Office into Windows - or snap it off?

Gartner research director Larry Cannell thinks Yammer gives Microsoft the impetus to "rethink Office". Cannell's point is that Microsoft needs to reshape Microsoft for the social age. He's right, but I don't think he goes nearly far enough. Microsoft Office is losing its relevance in a world that creates vast quantities of new …

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What !

"due to the volume of important data being generated by (sensors) and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook,"

What !

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Re: What !

I think the author has read (or indeed, written) too many articles hyping up "Big Data"! There is a lot of data outside of "traditional" data formats (such as Office files) these days. However, I can't see my company starting to put its customer contracts into HTML format or on Facebook, for example.

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Re: What ! (@Chemist)

Well I don't know, I think Matt's made a valid point in yet another well-judged article.

Then again when they give me crayons to write with, I try to eat them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What ! (@Chemist)

"Well I don't know, I think Matt's made a valid point in yet another well-judged article."

A valid point about what ?

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Windows

Re: What ! (@Chemist)

...eating crayons, obviously.

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Please god no...........

Why would I want an OS that means I have to have office, facebook, twitter et al built in and using resources whe I never use those programs on my PC's.

I use Docs for all i need to do at home so keep this b;loat away from me.

This is only an acceptable choice for an "Enterprise" version of windows with it all built in and set to run as a VM on some server and dumb terminals on desks etc. Would also mean BYOD for all would be simpler and safer.

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Re: Please god no...........

"Why would I want an OS that means I have to have office, facebook, twitter et al built in and using resources whe I never use those programs on my PC's."

Absolutely, not something you'd want. But if you were say a large company interested in data mining/profiling all their users to supplement their income, well that's different isn't it?

But I'm completely with you - *I* don't want it, but its easy to see why Apple does and MS might...

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'data' != valuable

"a world that creates vast quantities of new data every day, but comparatively little of it in Microsoft Office file formats." - 90% of which is photos of drunken students and catz and 9% of which is server logs recording the adverts served to twitbook users.

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Re: 'data' != valuable

thank you for talking some sense.

Of documents which business users actually use to go about their work, a large proportion of the most important are in Word (or written in Word and then published in PDF)

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Re: 'data' != valuable

Of documents which business users actually use to go about their work, a large proportion is driven directly from the management system to PDF. Only the stuff that is typed, like contracts and research papers are in word and most of that is not published. Everything else is emailed. Straight Word Processing is becoming a niche market.

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Re: 'data' != valuable

You've hit a very important nail squarely on the head. The world may well be producing gazillions of bytes of data, but how much of that is actually of any real value to more than the person that created it. More importantly, how to separate the wheat from the chaff; if it's of no value or will never be used again, why spend billions on storing and manipulation?

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Re: 'data' != valuable

Most of that data isn't even valuable to the entity who created it!

Even those enamoured of "big data" acknowledge this, hence most of the point of the big data tools is boiling down crazy amounts of data into tiny nibbles of potentially useful information.

Even outside of that, a log file is useless >99.9% of the time, only becoming useful on rare occasions to figure out what went wrong.

The useful stuff is in emails, the important stuff is generally in Word and Excel documents, maybe PDF-d once ready for publication.

- It's very common to bash something out over IM and email, then "write it up" in Word.

Back at the article - it doesn't matter whether MS want to merge Office and Windows together, because if they do that on the desktop they'll be immediately done for abuse of monopoly.

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@richard12

'Back at the article - it doesn't matter whether MS want to merge Office and Windows together, because if they do that on the desktop they'll be immediately done for abuse of monopoly.'

Exactly what I was thinking.

Then we'll get a patch: Which office suite would you like?

MS Office?

StarOffice?

openoffice?

Lotus?

etc...etc...

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Refresh my memory, willya

Wasn't part of the "Seattlement" of the first anti-trust action that MS dictated to the Justice Department a self-imposed Chinese Wall separating the OS dev team from the apps teams? The one that a certain Justice Thomas Penfold Jackson was brought in to rubber stamp when the trial judge flatly refused to, I mean. Not being totally naive here, I'm curious if anyone understands how the subsequent course of MS' legal manoeuvring has played out in this regard.

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Unhappy

Re: Refresh my memory, willya

In a proper world it ought to. On the other hand, in a proper world the existence of that settlement would also have dictated immediate severance of IE from the OS and possible time in the pokey. Given that neither of those happened (at least in the US), the IE decision might take precedence over the prior decision. Also, the courts might decide that in the current iOS, Android, and MS environment, MS's market share no longer constitutes a monopoly.

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Meh

TIFKAM here we come!

Main issue for merging Office and Windows is that although the true "operating system" has been invisible to many non-expert users for years now (other than as an application programme launcher) there's still a fair degree of stuff that isn't "productvity" related. Where are you going to put all the odds and sods that people think is the OS? I'm thinking the network setup, printers folder, file explorer, computer properties and so forth. You certainly could access this stuff via a dialogue or menu in an Office programme, but a more obvious place remains a control panel, accessed from a simplified programme launch screen.....at which point I'm beginning to think that this tends to point to the widely reviled TIFKAM.

You could be radical and try and do away with even a launcher, booting straight into an Office programme, although in practice we'd probably see the launcher function still there, relegated to a taskbar. Could certainly work for the horrible, bolted down corporate machines running a handful of programs, since these users have ever decreasing control of settings anyway, and if that's where the money is then this might fly. But would corporate customers pay the current licence fees for Windows and Office for a machine that nominally only has Office? Mind you, isn't this where Windows RT is heading as well?

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Angel

Booting straight into Office?

What nonsense is that?

Booting straight into Emacs, that's all I need!

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WTF?

Huh?

The reason so much data is being created is because the vast majority of it is garbage. "Hey guys, the dog shit on the couch, she must be sick" accompanied by a picture.

I've argued for over a decade that most people don't need a full featured computer and the tablet/big phone era seems to be proving I was correct. People who actually produce things with their computers need a full fat machine but 95% of people just use their computers to cruise the tubes and annoy their friends. I've received quite a few calls from friends who were updating their CV but didn't know how to adjust margins or create lists.

MS Office is highly capable and can do much more than most people realize but those are the people that don't need it, hence the 'Starter' editions. Also I stopped listening to anything Gartner said in 2001, they really blow at their job.

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Your article has zero relevance to the world of real companies, i.e. outside the Web 2.0 bubble. Viewing an Outlook contact's recent Facebook posts? Analysing Twitter posts in Excel? Get real. Nobody wants this stuff. They just want to get on with their work as efficiently and effectively as possible, and get home.

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Agreed - given most companies ban access to farcebook etc at the web proxy, most of these web 2.0 features will just be unseable bloat.

Not to mention the security concerns - it will make hardening the OS much...errrr....harder.

My vote: leave it out, and start managing the frankly ridiculous bloat and addressing the counter-intuiative UI (eg Ribbon). And leave the OS to do OS things only.

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@Buzzword: absolutely true!

The decline in education can be attributed to replacing hard knowledge (physics, synoptic history, geography etc) with fatuous soft "meta-knowledge" (imagine you're a photon, imagine you're a peasant in the middle ages, go down to the supermarket and find out where all the fruit comes from).

The author of this article thinks the same thing should happen to data. Replace your accounts with an analysis of Twitter posts - then see how the auditors and shareholders like it.

There's also a big difference between subscribing to social media, which has negligible business value of any kind, and analyzing it, which might have some business value, but only if you're a professional market researcher.

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Data value.

I think the author confusing data values. That is the value to the corporation rather than an individual. A twitter feed, or facebook status is unlikely to have any value. Whereas a visio network diagram, simple access db of a client list or even just a doc with a business procedure written down, has inherent value. IMHO, Office as a distinct application layer, is here to stay.

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Re: Data value.

"A twitter feed, or facebook status is unlikely to have any value."

Depends on the business. Marketing departments and almost all web businesses would rely on this info.

But agreed, in engineering, government, finance et al this info is useless, and Office does a pretty good (if bloated) job.

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Anonymous Coward

Please God NO !

Windows carries enough around it's waistline without office being integrated.

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Coat

Bundling?!

The Windows version would be a seamless, end-to-end user experience that doesn't distinguish between the operating system and the essential apps that it runs.

Just like they do with Internet Explorer... oh...

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Anonymous Coward

A general purpose operating system is supposed to be general purpose

What you are suggesting would be a nightmare for content creators who rarely if ever use any part of MS Office - people like architects, artists, software engineers, etc.

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JDX
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Hello Lawyers

Hmmm... using a desktop monopoly to push your own office software. If MS aren't allowed to give me a free browser, this seems pretty unlikely.

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LDS
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Re: Hello Lawyers

First of all, Office brings in a large share of MS revenues and they can't give it away nor up the OS price that much. And sure, they will be sued the day after by OpenOffice & C. and you would get a "Office choice screen" too...

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Although Windows and office are so entwined that some people think they come together already I'm sure if Office was integrated with Windows there would be a fair few lawsuits and possible more EU and even US monopoly investigations as this would no doubt be anti competitive. I know there aren't really any paid for office suite on Windows anymore but surely including MS office with Windows will kill any development of alternative office suites for Windows even free ones like libreoffice/openoffice.

I know they have already bundles a cut down version with the surface but as there are hardly any of these around yet they can probably get away without any investigation but trying it with every windows version may come and back fire. And i don't want to live in a world where the only office choice is what MS are offering.

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@mark 1 2

"but surely including MS office with Windows will kill any development of alternative office suites for Windows even free ones like libreoffice/openoffice."

Why? As it stands they're used by people who deliberately choose to use them. That'd be no different if Office came with/as part of Windows. Can't they compete apart from cost?

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Not really

Work / Excel / Powerpoint / Access etc work just fine for me. Leave them alone.

Outlook, yes maybe there is a case for Skype / Facebook / Twitter integration there.

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Re: Not really

Sorry, had to downvote you for using the dreaded "A" word.

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Stop

Re: Not really

And I'm sorry but I have to downvote you for being rude about Access.

Just remember the real world alternative to Access is not a nice strategic Oracle/Sybase/SQL Server db. It's a database hidden in a huge excel file with pivots on pivots.

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Oh come on, Access is useful

It's perfectly adequate for prototyping DB applications, teaching the basics of relational databases, and for single-user databases - where it's orders of magnitude better than Excel.

The issues arise when people forget it's just a prototype and try to build it up into a multi-user system instead of migrating it.

That's when you get a monstrosity.

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Re: Not really

And I'm sorry, but I'll have to downvote you for downvoting.

Now someone do me!

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95% of the increased data = junk

Glad I'm not the only one who thought this. Outside of facebook, twatter and instagram there are still people doing real work, creating documents and spreadsheets with value who need a proper 'office' environment. By all means create some kind of cut down integrated word processing arrangement for those with nothing to do, but leave the productive office suite alone.

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FAIL

Why?

Why do I read this meandering rubbish.

1. Office built into Windows? Craziest idea ever.

a. Bloat

b. Cost

c. Most people don't need Office

d. Security

e. Competition issues would make IE story look tame.

2. Seemless?

Such drivel. You have an OS, a GUI and Applications. Good design, ease of debugging etc means these 3 layers should be separate and swappable. Applications shouldn't try to do everything, but one kind of thing, so that they are easier to use, freer of bugs, smaller, faster, easier to design well. Sharing information and "Seemless" use between applications of data is not about a Monolithic system but about good modular design and open standards. Exchange can be realtime via TCP/IP local host sockets (extendible across a network), Named Pipes or persistent via open standards files (which need not be bulky XML).

LESS should be bundled and integrated. About the ONLY thing that should be "bundled" with the OS is a lean DB engine for OS use and optionally for applications, with no clash or restriction on adding your own, so it should NOT use the default SQL ports. IBM thought this was a good idea 30 years ago. The "Registry" is an interface to to a bunch of separate files. It and Filesystem should have been using a real database since 1993.

Yet another totally pointless Matt article. Is he trolling us?

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Megaphone

That would be yet more anti-competitive behaviour...

That would be yet more anti-competitive behavior which would end up with Microsoft in court again. When you bundle a product with the operating system that gives you an unfair competitive advantage over competitors products. Anyway the world really doesn't need Microsoft Office, Libre or Open Office is ideal and Free!

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Pint

Re: That would be yet more anti-competitive behaviour...

Can't agree more. As an SME who only needs occasional use we have dumped MSOffice for LibreOffice as it's free (as in beer), unencumbered by licensing issues, cross platform and without ribbon (easier to work with on a casual basis). I would guess the same applies for many home/small business users, who have better things to do than fight the software. Big business is a different matter - who do MS want to sell to?

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Who cares.

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FAIL

Not likely

If Microsoft couldnt embed Windows Media Player or Internet Explorer without raising eyebrows from regulators and screams from competitors, how the hell will it be allowed to integrate its own office suite into the OS. Thats never going to be allowed on the desktop.

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Megaphone

I have been using Office 2010 for a few years now, but happened to have to use Office XP last night to do a few things. I was honestly amazed at how fast it was and how easy everything was to find. I had totally forgotten what a nice clean interface it had that didn’t get in the way.

My vote goes for keeping them completely separate and kicking the Office team from here till next Christmas until they release a proper touch friendly version for iOS and Android.

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Well, for Android there is Softmaker Office which so far seems to work brilliantly with .doc(x) and .xsl(x). Haven't tried PowerPoint. Hope I won't have to either.

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Headmaster

fugatabowtit

The whole article should have been written in past tense.

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FAIL

Bizarre article written in a bubble

I'm usually a fan of Matt's articles, but this one seems to have been written in a weird bubble where facebook and twitter matter to people's work.

In the real world, the only people who need this info are in the press office / media team. The other 95% of the work force have NO need for facebook/twitter/other social media stuff for their work.

Honestly, what weird bubble was this written in?

There are Knowledge Management issues within even medium sized organisations on how employees generate, share and find information, but I'm pretty sure that it has nothing to do with social media (though I accept that technical solutions and approaches for one may be applicable to the other).

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Unhappy

It's an OS... isn't it?

"I'm beginning to wonder if the answer isn't so much for Microsoft to choose between the two, but rather to deeply entwine the two into one product."

That just sounds awful to me. I think you should keep the demarcation line between OS and Application absolutely clear. Smashing them together will just make a more confusing and bloated OS which could reduce the choice people have.

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Hmm... depends on your viewpoint

If you see Windows as a legacy system to run your old Office VBA applications you so foolishly based your infrastructure on in the 1990s then yes, it makes perfect sense.

If you see Windows as something you want to base new projects on, and you are smart, you would steer away from any kind of office software as far as you can. Then again if you are smart you are unlikely seeing Windows as something to base new projects on.

So yes, for the market left for Windows it makes sense to include Office.

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Trollface

It's been done before

The Windows version would be a seamless, end-to-end user experience that doesn't distinguish between the operating system and the essential apps that it runs.

An OS and an office suite integrated...

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the world of the Amstrad PCW16!

And just like Windows 8 Metro / "Modern UI", it runs one application full screen at a time!

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FAIL

Fundamental issue

Office is a major money spinner for MS, while this may not last forever, they would never give up a major revenue stream just to satisfy someone's social media fantasy.

And as has been stated, various governments competition/monopolies commissions would be very quickly jumping down on this even if MS wanted to do it.

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The problem with Office...

OK, *one* of the problems of Office, is that there's insufficient structure and metadata as it is. Want to label a particular paragraph in a document for future reuse? Can't! Want to find out what the significance of a spreadsheet cell is without looking for some text nearby? Can't! Integrating more unstructured data just makrs this worse. Office sits uncomfortably between a means of presenting data and a means of storing and manipulating it. Plenty of room for products that do only one of things, but better.

Sorry about spelling - Android has lost its cursor again.

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