Redmond, Washington – Relentlessly striving to create more synergy between its products, software giant Microsoft’s search platform Bing Microsoft’s search brand Bing today released five applications as part of a new Bing Apps for Office set of productivity add-ons for the Office 365 and Office 2013, all available for free in the Office Store.
Microsoft is bringing the power of the cloud back down into your local document. If you have enlisted with Microsoft’s recently released cloud-integrated Office 365 Home Premium suite, you will now be aware of five new distinct Bing-powered Excel and Word applications that rely on the search engine for the insertion of dynamic data.
There are a total of five Bing apps incorporated in the add-on for the newly launched Office 365 and Office 2013 that would make it easier for users to insert information and images directly from Bing searches into their documents. The five applications included are: Bing News Search for Word, Bing Dictionary for Excel and Word, Bing Finance for Excel, Bing Maps for Excel, Bing Image Search for Word, adding a handful of functionality that was previously unavailable.
For fun, here is a shot of the last app in action:
According to Microsoft, the new apps are essential component to its larger strategy to make Bing “available in convenient and intuitive ways” across modern computing platforms. The release timing of these apps is not surprising, as it follows the launch of Office.com and the Office 365 product for consumers.
The five new apps Microsoft is releasing today are designed to be integrated with 365’s big capital-A applications: Excel and Word. Now, going through them one-by-one, Bing Maps (pictured below) allows Excel users to plot people on a map with a data visualization tool that integrates right into Excel, providing such data as location names and tools for navigating within the map. People and locations show up on a live map, embedded in your spreadsheet, that can be zoomed and panned. Road view, bird’s-eye view, and map view are all available as well.
As for Word, Microsoft is releasing three apps that allow you to search for related news and videos right inside a document, search for and insert images into your document directly from the web-no copyright issue here, naturally-and access the most up-to-date online dictionary and grammatical information.
This significant addition means that a memo on the status of storm relief efforts can now contain live updates to weather conditions, emergency response units’ actions, and news coverage of the disaster. In other words, documents are becoming more like web pages.
In fact, the Office Store, at the newly refurbished Office.com, features a plethora of add-ons and tools for the Office suite. How strong consumer uptake of such code will be remains to be seen. However, among the power user set, the results could be dissimilar.
Going forward, you should think of Bing’s new tools as ways to take data from Bing, and pipe it into Office, thus extending the functionality of Office itself. Briefly, here are what the five applications can do:
Last but not least, you have to think that the addition of apps to Office 365 is the continuation of the evolution of documents from static entities that only change when you change them, to living creations that that can update themselves. And by giving documents apps, Microsoft essentially is transforming documents into apps … all the while and not incidentally giving you, me, and any Joe Blow Nonprogrammer the ability to build things that only short years ago would have required extensive development.
The apps have all been rolled out, and are available now. But expect more apps for Office in the near future.