Microsoft is currently holding a press conference where the next version of Office, Office 365 is presented for the first time. If you do not have time to watch the presentation right now, you may be thrilled to know that Office 365 Consumer Preview versions have been made available. The easiest way to download them is to go to the Try Office page on the Microsoft website and pick one of the available versions from there.
Please note that Office 365 will only run on Windows 7 or Windows 8, and not on previous versions of the Windows operating system. A Mac version will be available when the final version of Office gets released. Microsoft essentially is making available four different versions of Office for testing:
Each Office 365 version comes with a different set of applications and products included.
Office 365 Home Premium is targeting families and households mainly, offering a personalized experience on up to 5 household PCs. It includes Microsoft Office Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Access and Publisher.
Office 365 Small Business Premium is best suited for businesses with up to 10 employees, and features Lync, professional email, multi-party HD video conferencing, a public website and shared documents on top of the Home Premium features.
Office 365 ProPlus finally is best suited for large organizations, offering enterprise-grade security, support for previous versions of Office, and IT controls to manage Office with custom tools and processes.
Office 365 Home Premium requires a Windows Live account that users need to sign in to test it. The account dashboard highlights the available installation options, including options to switch to a 64-bit version of Office and change the interface language from English to Spanish (seem to be the only two languages available).
The three big new feature that Microsoft introduces in Office 365 are Windows 8, the Cloud and Social.
Microsoft has optimized Office 365 for Windows 8 and the new way of interacting with the operating system. This includes touch support, inking and support for the new user interface of the operating system.
Touch everywhere. Office responds to touch as naturally as it does to keyboard and mouse. Swipe your finger across the screen or pinch and zoom to read your documents and presentations. Author new content and access features with the touch of a finger.
Inking. Use a stylus to create content, take notes and access features. Handwrite email responses and convert them automatically to text. Use your stylus as a laser pointer when presenting. Color your content and erase your mistakes with ease.
New Windows 8 applications. OneNote and Lync represent the first new Windows 8 style applications for Office. These applications are designed to deliver touch-first experiences on a tablet. A new radial menu in OneNote makes it easy to access features with your finger.
The cloud, in form of Microsoft's cloud hosting service SkyDrive, has been integrated fully into Office 365. SkyDrive is for instance the default location where documents get saved in, so that they are available from every other device that is connected to the same SkyDrive account.
Roaming. Once signed in to Office, your personalized settings, including your most recently used files, templates and even your custom dictionary, roam with you across virtually all of your devices. Office even remembers where you last left off and brings you right back to that spot in a single click.Office on Demand. With a subscription, you can access Office even when you are away from your PC by streaming full-featured applications to an Internet-connected Windows-based PC.New subscription services. The new Office is available as a cloud-based subscription service. As subscribers, consumers automatically get future upgrades in addition to exciting cloud services including Skype world minutes and extra SkyDrive storage. Subscribers receive multiple installs for everyone in the family and across their devices.
Yammer. Yammer delivers a secure, private social network for businesses. You can sign up for free and begin using social networking instantly. Yammer offers integration with SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics.Stay connected. Follow people, teams, documents and sites in SharePoint. View and embed pictures, videos and Office content in your activity feeds to stay current and update your colleagues.People Card. Have an integrated view of your contacts everywhere in Office. The People Card includes presence information complete with pictures, status updates, contact information and activity feeds from Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.Skype. The new Office comes with Skype. When you subscribe, you get 60 minutes of Skype world minutes every month. Integrate Skype contacts into Lync and call or instant message anyone on Skype.
To uninstall Office 365 Home Premium, Office users need to first log into their account on the Office website and deactivate the version for their PC, before they uninstall the product from their PC. Other Office users need to visit Office 365 to deactivate Office, before they uninstall it from the computer.
Deactivating Office only enables read-only mode in Office. Documents can be viewed in this mode but not edited, created or saved. The preview version expires 60 days after the next version of Office becomes available. Users will receive information once that date approaches so that they know what is happening and what options they have. An expired preview version of Office is set to read-only mode just like a deactivated version of the software.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.