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A first look at Microsoft Office 15 features

Microsoft is set to release Windows 8 later this year, as well as the Microsoft Office 15 beta. But how will users cope with learning new Office 15 features?

It's time for yet another version of Microsoft Office -- Microsoft Office 15. I know what you're thinking: We don't even use half the features available in Office 2010! But you should feel better about the Office upgrade after we explore some Office 15 features.

Office 15 features will reportedly include support for Cascading Style Sheets, HTML, JavaScript and REST for third-party Web extensions called Agaves. Say goodbye to Visual Basic and our traditional approach to Office add-ons.

There's also a touch interface for tablets in Microsoft Office 15. Many are still speculating (hoping, really) that Microsoft will release a version of Office 15 for the iPad, but only time will tell.

More on Microsoft Office:

Microsoft Office 15 features, licensing details emerge

Office 2010 upgrade guide: Who's ready for a Microsoft Office upgrade?

Top features worth considering in Microsoft Office 2010

Top reasons your business shouldn't go to Office 2010 -- yet

One of the bigger changes in Microsoft Office 15 is cloud integration. As seen in this leaked video, it's supposedly going to ensure that your work is "there when you need it." Paul Thurott's review contains numerous screenshots confirming such Office 15 features.

The thing that concerns me about Microsoft Office 15 is the use of Windows 8's Metro interface. I've been test-driving the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, and I'm not a fan of the "less is more" approach. I like a clean interface, but I also want quick access to software functionality when I need it.

According to a leaked Microsoft product roadmap, the Microsoft Office 15 public beta is due out this summer, but it could be 2013 before we see the final product. That'll be here before we know it, so you need to start thinking about how you're going to integrate Office 15 into your enterprise. Some key factors to consider are:

  • Will Microsoft Office 15 coincide with your Windows 8 plans? Perhaps that'll time out with some long-needed computer upgrades.
  • Will you have enough internal resources to plan for and deploy Microsoft Office 15 and troubleshoot problems that arise? How will your users be trained on any interface changes?
  • How will integration with cloud computing affect your information security program? Do you currently have policies and technologies in place to ensure that sensitive business documents are properly handled in the cloud?

I suspect Microsoft Office 15 will be named "Office 2012" or "Office 2013" upon final release. Looking at the big picture, that's not what matters. What does matter is the certainty that the next version of Office will be creeping into enterprises slowly but surely. The real bummer is that I feel like I'm just now learning my way around Office 2010, and I'm sure I'm not alone.

When I just want to knock out a document, I often long for the simplicity of tools such as Lotus Ami Pro and the DOS-based version of WordPerfect. I knew those programs like the back of my hand. I've heard that story from countless others, but I suppose progress is inevitable.

Learning my way around yet more versions of Word, PowerPoint, etc. doesn't seem like a lot of fun. But -- as with most software updates from Microsoft -- it's just a matter of time before we have to learn them. Such is life in IT. Given all the writing I do, if Microsoft Office 15 features somehow help my productivity, I'll be on board.

Kevin Beaver
is an information security consultant, expert witness, author and professional speaker at Atlanta-based Principle Logic LLC. With over 23 years of experience in the industry, he specializes in performing independent security assessments revolving around minimizing information risks. Beaver has authored/co-authored 10 books on information security, including The Practical Guide to HIPAA Privacy and Security Compliance and Hacking For Dummies. In addition, he's the creator of the Security On Wheels information security audio books and blog, providing security learning for IT professionals on the go.

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