Microsoft has announced the release of a new app that lets you control Word, Excel and PowerPoint from a Windows 8 phone. The company called this the beginning of a move to push the productivity space to a “diverse society of devices.”

Office Remote

The new release, which was announced on a blog post by Rob Knies of Microsoft Research, effectively turns a Windows Phone 8 into a remote control for PC-based Office applications. The post states that the app, the result of a collaboration between Microsoft Research and Microsoft Office engineering,  offers users the possibility of setting up and giving presentations from the palm of their hands.

The app works with all forms of Office 2013, except for Office 2013 RT. That is a little bit odd because it means you will not be able to use it with your brand spanking new Surface 2 tablet, for the moment at least.

The whole idea here is to cater to business users who spend their lives travelling around giving presentations. With it, you can strut your stuff anywhere in the room without having to physically touch the PC the presentation is hosted on.

It also means that you can easily slip between Office apps if you need to drag information into the presentation that resides in an app other than the one you are working in.

Microsoft Collaborating?

This is going to be a useful app for anyone that has to regularly offer presentations. But there are two points in the blog post that have a much wider significance for productivity suit users and Microsoft users in general.

Microsoft Office Remote.jpg

The first is that Van Hoot is touting this as an example of how Microsoft departments are working together.Microsoft Office and Research have worked together in the past, but nothing much was ever said about it.

Learning Opportunities

Here, with the new winds of change sweeping the corridors of Microsoft headquarters, everything is about collaboration and development between Microsoft teams — all part of the ‘One Microsoft’ strategy that is slowly getting into gear. Hoff’s noted:

The world is constantly evolving, though, and presentations need to evolve with it. We are building partnerships between Microsoft Research and Microsoft Office that will help bring innovations to products now and into the future. Office Remote is a great example of this: It brings together your large display, PC, and mobile device using services that we can continuously improve over time with the latest research and design concepts.”

In short, everyone got together and pulled this one out of the hat as a sign of things to come. The other related nugget buried in here is that this is only the first of many future collaborations that will see Microsoft devices pitched together for the benefit of business users.

Interactive Microsoft Device

Citing Bill Buxton, principal researcher at Microsoft Research, the blog post states we will be seeing a lot more of this kind of collaborative work in the future.

Office Remote represents just the first deep exploration in the productivity space into theat hand, but, potentially, also use multiple devices together to make it easier to achieve your goals."

In this case, it means the introduction of an app that is operated using touch-based control and takes full advantage of existing projectors, large-screen televisions, and Lync-meeting connections. In sum, all a user's Windows devices will be talking to each other in the name of ease and convenience.

The app itself is a useful one that builds on existing Microsoft technology and shows, in a small way, where Microsoft is heading.

While the app is available now for download, a number of people posting on boards across the web have pointed out that they have been doing this already with Keynote and Apple’s iPhone and iPad for quite some time. While this may be the case, for Microsoft it’s a first, adding something new not only to Office, but to Windows Phone 8 too.