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Chances are, you are familiar with Microsoft Office Suite. Learn more about this incredible innovation and what its latest version, Office for iPad, offers your business!



The Fascinating History and Continued Relevance of Microsoft Office Suite


Any employer will tell you that “Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite” is a line commonly found beneath the “Special Skills” section of resumes. Microsoft Office Suite is so widely used that  most job seekers who omit this “Special Skill” do so, not because they are unfamiliar with these programs, but because they assume that proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite is a given. Under which circumstances, if ever, this skill should be featured on one’s resume is up for debate. What is incontestable, however, is the profound impact Microsoft Office Suite has had on the way we absorb, impart, and organize information. SLICE pays homage to one of Microsoft’s greatest innovations by looking at the office suite’s evolution and influence before describing the ways its latest incarnation can revolutionize your business.


More than Word


On November 19, 1990, Microsoft released MS Office 1.0. This first generation of the office suite was comprised of rudimentary versions of Microsoft Word, a word processing application, Microsoft PowerPoint, a program that allows users to generate slideshow presentations, and Microsoft Excel, an application that enables the creation of spreadsheets. The release of MS Office 1.5 the next year saw an improved Excel, which was at that time, competing with Lotus Software’s Lotus 1-2-3 to be the leading spreadsheet application (spoiler alert: Excel won.) Though Microsoft released a few versions of its application bundle in the interim, Word did not receive a major upgrade until 1994 with the release of Office 4.0. The Office 4.0 edition of Word featured a richer interface and placed a greater emphasis on formatting, a capability that has become Word’s trademark.


The introduction of Office 97 in the fall of 1996 was a turning point in the evolution of Microsoft Office Suite. For this version of the office suite, Microsoft redesigned toolbars and menus in all applications to be more aesthetically and functionally uniform, making using Word, Excel, and PowerPoint a more consistent experience. Of all of the original programs, PowerPoint underwent the most radical makeover. Prior to PowerPoint 97, presentations were linear and only those who knew programming could enhance their slideshows with transitions and effects. Office 97 made PowerPoint at once more sophisticated and more accessible to the layperson, ushering in the current era of widespread PowerPoint usage discussed later in this post. In addition to refined versions of the office suite’s original programs, Office 97 consisted of groundbreaking agenda and email software, Outlook. Office 97 also included Office Assistant, a feature that introduced the much-maligned  virtual paperclip, Clippy, to the world. Though in accordance with public demand Clippy is no longer with us, Office 97 set the standard for later incarnations of Microsoft Office Suite.


Highlights of more recent editions of Microsoft Office Suite include Office 2000 (released in mid-1999)’s heightened security and the arrival of Office Web Apps , which permit users to access the same application from their PC, smartphone, or Web browser with Office 2010. Later incarnations have also further expanded Microsoft Office Suite. For instance, Office 2013 introduced Microsoft OneNote, note taking software that facilitates multi-user collaboration.


The Suite Life


Microsoft Office Suite’s innovation does not lie in its applications. At the time of the initial office suite’s 1990 debut, PowerPoint, Excel, and Word had been sold separately for some time, competing with applications that performed similar functions. Microsoft Office Suite’s innovation lies in the way it was marketed. By selling its programs as a bundle, Microsoft made its applications more affordable for the student, school, or business. The programs’ uniformity caused customers to become comfortable using strictly Microsoft products. This tactic combined with the company’s commitment to perfecting its product every year or so created a strong reliance on Microsoft Office Suite that shows no signs of diminishing. 


For an example of this reliance, one must look no further than the current education system. Familiarity with Microsoft Office Suite is a major learning goal. Students are taught the basics of using PowerPoint, Word, and Excel at a young age and written assignments are almost exclusively completed in Word. Microsoft PowerPoint has all but replaced the chalkboard. From elementary school to the university level, the recent push for educators to incorporate technology into the curriculum has led to attending class becoming synonymous with copying information displayed in a PowerPoint presentation. For assignments that involve speaking in front of the class, students are often encouraged or even required to design a PowerPoint presentation related to their chosen topic.


This educational approach prepares students for the professional working world. Slideshows created in Microsoft PowerPoint have become a common way for speakers to hold their audience’s attention and illustrate their point in business settings. In fact, 36% of the preparation time for the average business proposal is spent making the accompanying slideshow visually engaging. Industries that do not conduct business in a presentation-heavy office setting rely on applications like Excel and Outlook for budgeting and communication purposes. Microsoft Office Suite is so ubiquitous, that as I type this blog post in a Word document, stopping occasionally to check my email inbox in Microsoft Outlook, I am not surprised to read that over 95%of applications in the workplace belong to the Microsoft Office family.


Microsoft Office for IPad


Last month, Microsoft released Office for iPad, a free app available for download in the iTunes App Store. Those with Office for iPad are able to view Microsoft Office documents on Apple’s wildly popular tablet. The power to create and edit documents is reserved for those who subscribe to Microsoft’s latest office suite, Office 365. SLICE recommends business owners use Office for iPad in conjunction with Office 365 to reap the following benefits:


  •         Reduce Your Company’s Carbon Footprint


o   Trains and other modes of transportation are filled with stressed, pen wielding, workers making last-minute edits to printed Word documents with a plan to make these corrections more permanent on a desktop computer as soon as they arrive at the office. The use of Office 365 in Office for iPad could not only save these frazzled commuters time by allowing them to make said edits directly, but could also help save the environment. Revising documents on a tablet saves paper and the less time workers spend on desktop computers the better, as desktops are much less energy-efficient than tablets.


  •      Stay Connected with Your Team


o   Share calendars in Outlook, documents in Word, slides in PowerPoint, and other files integral to the operation of your business whenever is convenient, from any location via your iPad.


  •        Improve Your Company’s Chances of Success


o   Studies have shown that companies that make adopting new technology a top priority have better relationships with customers and boast streamlined operations as well as revolutionary business models.


Over two decades after its debut, Microsoft Office Suite continues to evolve and the world continues to follow suit. Just as the classroom and the conference room changed to take advantage of all that previous versions of Microsoft Office Suite had to offer, they will soon adjust to Office for iPad. Do not let your company fall behind. Use Office for iPad in conjunction with Office 365 to help your business reach its full potential.


By: Alannah Dragonetti

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