OneNote, Yammer, SkyDrive are growth drivers for Office, DelBene says

The Microsoft Office Division chief is also confident about the new Office subscription model

The note-taking application OneNote, cloud storage service SkyDrive and Yammer enterprise social networking software have emerged as rising stars in the Office family, according to Microsoft's Office Division chief.

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, Kurt DelBene, Microsoft Office Division president, said on Tuesday.

Then there's Yammer, which Microsoft acquired in mid-2012 and which 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, the executive said.

DelBene also said he's confident in the success of the new subscription model the company is pushing for Office, 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 the full-featured Office productivity applications suite with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and others.

Maintaining the relevance, popularity and viability 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.

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