With all the hype riding Microsoft’s upcoming major Windows revision, Windows 8, it is easy to look past the software company’s greatest asset: MS Office. For more than twenty years, the office suite had been used across several businesses because of its numerous features and comfortable user interface. True, there have been lots of changes in the core functionality of MS Office throughout the years but Microsoft was able to introduce these changes gradually, in an even pace. This made the reluctant companies to move forward and update not just the suite itself but including the operating systems.

There are alternatives and competitors like OpenOffice, Google Docs and Apple’s iWork. However, Microsoft Office retains its throne as the king of office solutions with overwhelmingly large percentage of people tied within the software infrastructure. Even those people who are invested heavily in Apple’s ecosystem prefer to use Office for Mac than Apple’s native office solution suite.

MS Office has its own faults, and there are lots of them. But then again, the pros outweigh the cons in a great manner. The feature set is just too useful and robust. And it should not be forgotten, the Microsoft gene is embedded within our system. During the 90’s, almost everyone is using a Windows machine.

It’s difficult for most of them to learn a new interface and computing language. Microsoft is also spectacular when it comes to legacy support, so most of the businesses can retain most of its data and jump from one revision to another even if an entire generation is skipped. This makes the investments on workforce, hardware, and software worthwhile since the upgrading path is smoother than other solutions.

It can be argued that the free solutions like LibreOffice and OpenOffice.org can get the job done as well. However, the seamless integration within the suite, the operating systems, and networking if using Windows and MS Office is too good to give up. Support is also needed for business in times of troubles and hiccups, which the free solutions, understandably, can’t provide.

No matter how good the workers are, they are only as effective as how efficient they are with their tools. Companies need to pony up and start sending their employees to MS Office training camps. They could actually host their own MS Office seminars to enhance the Office skills of the workers. There are also books, e-books, and online tutorials that could help in improving Office skills. There are also web-based companies that offer online seminars, be it Word, Excel and even PowerPoint.

The upcoming Office 2013 will introduce new and modern ways of doing about the office suite. It would be the first Office iteration to vastly support touch and pen-based inputs. This is not surprising given the explosion of the tablet and other touchscreen-based devices. Of course, the Metro interface of the upcoming Windows 8 is conceived with touchscreen. There is also a movement from software companies to get the cloud computing moving forward.

But these evolutions on the technology side should never be feared upon. It’s a natural state, and also, the core functionalities remain the same. This is the most important part on why companies should invest in MS Office skills among its employees. There are incremental updates now and then but they are all worth it.

About the Authors:
Joyce Del Rosario and Jasper Dela Cruz are business bloggers. They blog for officekonsulenterne.dk. They focus on equipping business owners with business software knowledge. Aside from blogging, Jasper is also a toy enthusiast.

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