Yammer enterprise social networking software has emerged as a rising star in the Office family, alongside the cloud storage service SkyDrive and note-taking application OneNote, according to Microsoft Office Division President Kurt DelBene,
Yammer, which Microsoft acquired in mid-2012, promises to become a solid component and entry point to Office 365, Microsoft's cloud-based applications suite, DelBene said at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference.
"You'll see more and more announcements from us about how Yammer becomes a more integral part of Office 365," DelBene said during his appearance, in which he took questions from a Morgan Stanley analyst and audience members.
Meanwhile, SkyDrive is fast gaining importance and prominence as both consumers and enterprises become more comfortable storing documents in the cloud to make it easier to share the files and collaborate with other users, he said.
Microsoft is also hard at work bringing together its Lync enterprise unified-communications server and its consumer market counterpart Skype, to provide people an integrated experience at home and at work for IM, VoIP telephony, video conferencing, and Web meetings, he said.
OneNote, which was first launched 10 years ago, has evolved and improved to the point where it's now for many a daily-use, very versatile application not only for taking notes but for capturing information from the Web and other sources, said DelBene.
DelBene also said he's confident in the success of the new subscription model the company is pushing for Office 365, in which customers will pay an annual fee for the software. Microsoft is also offering the traditional "perpetual" license option of paying for Office once, but it offers significant incentives for the subscription model, such as the ability to install the suite on up to five different devices.
Asked about plans for an iOS version of Office, DelBene stuck to the company's line that Microsoft already offers iOS versions of some applications like OneNote, and that iPad users can access via their browsers the cloud version of the suite. Called Office Web Apps, that browser-based version of the package offers a subset of the functionality of the main suite, but it was revamped last October in a way that makes it work better on touch-based devices like iPads.
Microsoft began selling last month the consumer versions of the new Office, and plans to announce details of the business versions of the suite Wednesday.
Office 365 for business, introduced in mid-2011, has options that range from an email-only version with Exchange Online to jam-packed bundles that also include SharePoint Online, Lync Online, and subscription-based versions of full-featured Office productivity applications suite with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and others.
Maintaining the relevance of the Office stack is critical for Microsoft, since those products represent a major portion of the company's revenue. However, competition has intensified in recent years from a broad variety of rivals including Google, IBM, and Cisco.
In Microsoft's second fiscal quarter, ended Dec. 31, the Business Division, which includes the Office suite, reported US$5.69 billion in revenue, down 10 percent year on year.
Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG. This piece has been edited by CITEworld.