During this week's Windows 10 reveal event, Microsoft gave a glimpse of the future. And yesterday Microsoft’s Julia White, general manager for Office Product Management, provided a few more details.
Here's what we know. In addition to the soon to be released Windows 10 Technical Preview, look for a touchscreen version of Office as well as Office for Windows 10, a suite of apps including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook and Calendar.
Office 1, Office 2
Microsoft has confirmed what it's been hinting at for the past eight months: specifically, that by the end of the year there will be two versions of Office.
The first, Office for Windows 10, will be specifically for mobile and touch screen devices. Available in preview by February, it will be pre-installed on mobile devices running on Windows 10.
The PC version, Office 2016, will be released later this year. This version is being tested inside the company and with a very small group of Office 365 subscribers, but little has been revealed about it.
White has been lot more open about Office for Windows 10, which she describes as “universal apps” for mobile and touchscreen devices. The “universal” refers to the fact that it will work on both Windows Phones and Windows tablets.
She described the new apps as the culmination of 12 months of "reimagining the traditional Office experience for everyone and every device." Part of that reimagining was getting Office ready for iPad and Android tablets, making those apps easier to find online through Office.com, adding analytics and collaboration into the Office mix and other upgrades.
While Microsoft was reimagining, Google upgraded Drive, released Drive for Work and generally made itself a lot more attractive to Microsoft customers. Office for Windows 10, as a pre-install on Windows 10 devices and as a downloadable free upgrade should, however, knock some steam out of Google’s advances.
From the Ground Up
The new OW10 apps have been designed from the ground up specifically for touch devices, but also provide users with all the familiar Office functionality. They include:
White said users will be able to create and edit documents that look and feel exactly the same as documents they might create on a desktop. Insights for Office, which is powered by Bing, will also be available, while in ‘Read’ mode there will be additional online resources like images, web references and definitions in the reading experience itself.
Microsoft has been doing a lot of work on developing Excel over the past year, but working in Excel on a small screen has always been problematic. However, White said that the new Excel app will work so well you won’t miss either keyboard or mouse when arranging cells and formatting pie charts.
White said PowerPoint is as easy as can be on mobile. You can use Presenter View to prepare presentations and then use Ink Tools to annotate slides in real time so your audience knows what you are talking about.
While offered little detail about the OneNote app other than to say that it is an entirely new version and that the new ribbon will facilitate the sharing of notebooks more easily.
Outlook Mail and Outlook Calendar
With the new Mail and Outlook with Word built into the authoring experience it is possible to insert tables, pictures and bullets into the email, while the touch gestures will make it easy to manage incoming emails quickly and efficiently.