updated 12:21 pm EDT, Wed May 8, 2013
Switch to subscription-based software suites could take ten years
Microsoft has laid out the various changes the company will make to Office Web Apps in the future, with a focus on social features, partly confirming a previously leak. It has also revealed that, unlike Adobe's recent announcement of switching focus to providing subscription-based products, Microsoft will continue to release packaged versions of Office for the next few years.
The Office Web Apps will be updated in the "next few months" to add more to collaborative editing. The co-authoring features will allow multiple users to edit a single document at the same time, with users able to see changes without needing to refresh, something the company already provides through the PowerPoint Web App.
A simplified user experience is also touted, with web-based working being prioritized, quicker launch times, and an easier file management system. Users of Android tablets will be able to edit documents through Chrome in the future, inheriting the same functionality as the iPad and Windows 8 tablet versions currently have.
The move by Adobe into focusing on the Creative Cloud rather than standalone software has been welcomed in a blog post, with Microsoft also believing in the subscription software-as-a-service future, noting the always-up-to-date and cross-platform functionality. It is suggested that it could take a decade until subscription services will be the normal choice for professionals, and so Microsoft will continue to provide Office packages. The company also revealed that since it launched Office 365 Home Premium and Office 365 University, just over a quarter of customers opt for the subscription version.