"In terms of competition, migrating Office to the cloud is critical," said Jim McGregor, a principal analyst with Tirias Research. "For Microsoft, Office is and should be the cornerstone of a much larger cloud-service strategy that I'm sure we will hear more about."
Microsoft presented the upcoming version of its ubiquitous Office suite on Monday, and the cloud was front and center.
Microsoft isn't ignoring its locally installed Office suite of tools, such as Microsoft Word and Excel. However, the company has been facing significant challenges in the wake of low-cost office alternatives and a growing migration to cloud-based applications, like Google Apps.
All of this means Microsoft's Office 365 suite of cloud-based apps is getting most of the attention in the upcoming release.
The software maker is also taking on today's multi-device workplace by enabling users to save their files to SkyDrive, its online document storage and file sharing service, and syncing content across all of the user's devices, including smartphones, Macs, PCs and tablets. That means a user can begin working on a project on her home laptop and pick up where she left off when she gets into the office and sits at her desktop.
Microsoft also focused on mobile users by making Office compatible with touch screens which are generally used in smartphones and tablets. That's a close tie-in to the recent unveiling of Microsoft's Surface tablet.