A look back at one of computing’s most powerful software solutions
While it may seem hard to believe, Microsoft Office turns 30 in November this year: it was first released to the world on November 19, 1990. In that time, the software suite has become a core component of the workplace, a veritable titan of productivity, and a household name to most.
In April 2020, Microsoft announced MS Office was being renamed Microsoft 365 to stay abreast of changing technologies and keep it relevant to ever-shifting work patterns. The change of title marks an equally significant change of direction for the company, with a focus more on individuals rather than just larger companies.
Office has gone through many versions over the years, but its core values have remained largely the same – to empower the productivity of companies by streamlining the way we work and providing a common platform across industries. The 365 edition is just the latest evolution in the software’s long history.
Windows 95 and the mass take-up of Microsoft Office
While early versions of MS Office had small-scale success, the biggest factor in the mass adoption of the software came with the release of the Windows 95 Operating System (OS). The importance of Windows 95 cannot be understated. For the first time, a computer OS had been designed with regular people in mind rather than just being aimed at professionals and hobbyists.
Windows 95 popularized modern computing, putting it in the hands of everyone rather than the select few. It was the single most anticipated OS in history and, in turn, catapulted Microsoft from relative obscurity to global recognition.
Office 95 was specifically designed to work with Windows 95. As the popularity of the OS exploded, so did the use of Office 95. It quickly became the de facto workplace software. It’s a crown the suite has never relinquished, despite considerable competition from rival systems like Corel WordPerfect, Lotus SmartSuite, Sun SmartOffice, and so on. If you were using Windows 95 (as most companies did), you most likely paired it with Office 95.
Holding position through regular updates
Despite this domination, the tech world is a famously brutal place, and today’s must-have software all too frequently turns into tomorrow’s also-ran. As a company, Microsoft has always realized the strategic importance of the Office suite to its overall success and has kept pace with changing technologies and work habits by offering regular updates to its products.
As cyber threats have changed, so has Microsoft Office
Perhaps the most crucial consideration in any software is its security. As the Office suite increased its online integration, the security requirements have also ramped up considerably.
Microsoft 365’s in-built security is second to none; however, as with previous versions of the software, the use of a certified Microsoft 365 (previously known as Office 365) security company remains as essential today as it always has been. Estimates suggest cybercrime now accounts for around $6 trillion of losses every year.
The future of Microsoft 365
The release of Microsoft 365 heralds a new age for the company, changing its primary focus from corporate users more towards individuals and small organizations. As our worlds move increasingly into digital space (from how we work to how we communicate), Microsoft’s goal is to position its products in our everyday lives and maintain the brand’s prominence.
Microsoft 365 is still very much in its infancy. Yet, the company has promised a raft of exciting new updates to improve the functionality and reach of the software. In days to come, it’s likely the new Microsoft 365 suite will be considered a milestone in the product’s on-going evolution. An evolution that has transformed the workplace for the last 30 years – and looks capable of doing so for another 30.