Like Ballmer's earlier presentation, Hough's speech hammered home the general point that Microsoft's revamped Office for enterprise is placing the cloud very much at the centre of proceedings.
"The cloud is not the browser; it is a lot more to us," promised Hough, explaining how interfacing between devices was paramount, and showcasing Microsoft's new install-management page which can activate or deactive licenses, potentially allowing users to pick and mix generational parts of Office. It's also now possible to stream Office components directly from the cloud.
"We're not just taking a bet for ourselves with the cloud, we're taking a bet for our customers," said Hough.
But even as a betting man, two factors Hough would not be drawn on were pricepoints, which he said "hadn't been decided upon as yet", and wider devices involved in the cloud connectivity plan. When Computing asked Hough about iOS in particular, he replied that Microsoft is "not announcing any changes to our mobile plans today".
When asked to elaborate on any other devices, Hough said that his team was taking an agnostic approach.
"When we think about putting any footprint on any mobile device, we're going to think about it in the context of that device being connected to the service. We're not going to think of isolated experiences on the device."
Hough said that any given device will become a useful way to connect to the service.
"That's the way we're thinking about RT, that's the way we're thinking about our web applications, and with Windows Phone," explained Hough. "That will continue to be pervasive. When I said we're shifting to the cloud at the centre, it is the cloud that becomes the repository of knowledge of everthing you've done with Office, and as you switch devices, the thing you do to get the most out of it is connect to the cloud, and that will be the same with any other endpoints."
As vague as this answer may be, there's no denying that, should uptake of the cloud philosophy, and with it the mini-industry that Microsoft wants to build around Apps for Office, prove successful, Hough will be right to claim there will be little like new Office available as a current multiplatform solution.
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