It’s only three days since Microsoft launched Office 2013 and the online version through Office 365, but already it has started building it out. To be more precise, it is Bing that is building out Office 365 with the addition of five new apps that can be used with the new Office 365 Home Premium.
Free Bing Apps for Office 365
The apps are free and, according to the Bing blog, aim to integrate existing work templates with search functions similar to the way it already works with Windows 8, Windows Phone and Xbox enabling people to use it while mobile.
Our goal is to make Bing available in convenient and intuitive ways that take advantage of knowledge Bing has assembled for search. You can see this today with features like voice search on Bing for Mobile, implicit search such as Local Scout on Windows Phone, the ability to search using your phone’s camera with Bing Vision…”, the post says.
The new apps include: Bing Finance for Excel, Bing Maps for Excel, Bing Image Search for Word, Bing News Search for Word and Bing Dictionary for Excel and Word.
1. Bing Maps
As you might expect, Bing Maps allows people to plot locations on Bing maps through data visualization tools in Excel. With it, users can explore maps up close or at a distance the way you can with Google Maps by manipulating your mouse. It can also be adjusted to offer a birds-eye-view, or road level views.
While the Bing team uses the idea of mapping census data onto a state map as an example of how useful it is, the first use that springs to mind is location based advertising and how Bing might be able to apply it to that.
Bing Map Search in Office 2013
2. Bing Finance (Beta)
This is still only in beta and again, using Excel, it enables users to build their own finance portfolio table. Users will be able to customize fields as required and will be able to choose the fields they’d like to display from a wide range of data columns that already exist including pricing and news.
3. Bing News Search
For a Word document, this will allow users to search for news or related videos that can be then inserted into the document simply by clicking on an insert plus icon. Users’ most frequent searches can also be added to the favorites list.
4. Bing Dictionary (English)
The dictionary offers users the latest definitions of words and expressions, as well as spelling. It also enables users to enter words as they sound phonetically, leaving Bing to discover, or even guess, what word the user meant. It can also suggest phrases and correct usage of that word.
5. Bing Image Search
This one should be a really popular app given the amount of images that exist on the Web and the need of everyone, including businesses, to illustrate their work using images. With it, and from Word, users can search for images using text from a given document, inputting that text into a search box. Results are displayed in a thumbnail preview, with users offered the choice of enlarging individual images by clicking on one. The app uses any part of the text for search by clicking on the insert plus icon.
Bing Image Search in Office 2013
Collectively this bunch of apps for Bing look like an interesting addition to the online version of Office 2013. However, there really doesn’t appear to be anything new here that would convince users of other productivity suites jump ship from the one they are already using and sign up with Microsoft.
But it’s not bad for only two days into the life of Office 2013 so early days yet. With competition tight in this market space Microsoft is offering little to incentivize average home, or small business users to move. It seems likely that over the coming months we are going to see a lot more apps being introduced.