Office in the cloud: Personalisation, on-demand access and mobile device optimisation

18 Jul 2012

In what we predict is the beginning of a steady flow of information on Microsoft’s new Office suite, partner group programme manager John Jendrezak reveals in greater detail how Office will work in the cloud and sync across multiple devices.

Microsoft Office, in some shape or form, is practically ubiquitous at work and at home. So, with the revamp of these services taking them into the cloud and onto multiple devices, there’s a lot for even veteran users to learn.

There are plenty of services that now let users access the same content and settings across a range of devices, and that’s precisely the direction the Office experience is going in.

In a post on the Office Next blog, Jenderzak points out that to work with Office in the cloud “all you have to do is sign in”.


The concept of signing in to use Word, Xcel or PowerPoint is a new one, but that’s just the way the cloud works. Users will see a profile picture and their name at the top right of the start screen, and they can also choose a decorative motif to frame their applications.

This personalisation will help make it clear who is signed in on shared computers.

Microsoft Office Word start screen

In the image above, the smiley and sad face next to the user’s picture are there to send feedback on what users think of the preview version.

Syncing, saving and sharing

We’ve already learned that users’ recent documents and settings will be accessible on all devices from which they can sign in to Office, and Jendrezak claims Windows Phone will give users one-touch access to their recent files.

These settings are stored and synced with the user’s local drive, SharePoint and SkyDrive, which is the default save location for all files.

Files aren’t locked in the cloud, however, as the next version of Office will ship with the SkyDrive app, providing offline access to files and folders.

Microsoft has also added more options for sharing folders on SkyDrive, and users can invite people by email, send a link, present online, publish as a blog or post to social networks.

Microsoft Office share screen

Online and on demand

When users purchase the new Office suite, they will be able to install this on up to five computers – but they will also be allowed temporary access on other devices through Office on Demand. This will stream and launch a temporary copy of a user’s personalised Office application without installing it permanently. It and the files being worked on will be gone once the application is closed. also remembers your preferences and recent documents and shows a merged view from all applications and their various storage locations on the My Office page, all of which can be accessed anywhere you can get online.

Web apps updated

New Office web applications are available to try out at and, letting users access, co-author and share documents from any device with a browser.

The four apps – Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote – have all been upgraded with more of the capabilities users would expect from the full programmes, as well as being optimised for use on mobile devices with touch-friendly controls.

Office Web Applications

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Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.