Feeds

Microsoft pops preview of 'biggest, most ambitious' Office yet

Redmond shifts Office from installed code to cloudy service

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

A new approach to endpoint data protection

Microsoft has released the last preview of its latest build of Office – the first release of one of Redmond's biggest cash cows.

"This is the first round of Office designed from the get-go for Office to be a service," said CEO Steve Ballmer at a press conference in San Francisco. "We've transformed Office to embrace design concepts shown in Windows 8 and Phone 8 and in Metro. This wave of Office is the biggest and most ambitious we've ever done."

Ballmer Office 2013

Ballmer bouyant over cloudy Office

The application suite has been rewritten from the ground up, he said, and while Redmond will still support those who want to install their own copy, Microsoft hopes that the bulk of users will use its code in a cloudy fashion. Developers can also build third-party web applications and embed them in Office.

By default, Office applications will store preferences, custom dictionaries, and – most importantly – documents, in the cloud via SkyDrive. This all fits in the "Metro everywhere" philosophy that Microsodt is pushing, but some companies will have to look at whether this cloudy control is really what they want.

This is also a very touchy-feely build, with pinch controls in all the Office applications. There are the usual expansion/contraction pinch controls, plus swiping between functions within Office and doing things such as selecting fonts and type styles using rotary controls. A stylus can be integrated as well, either to annotate documents or act as a pointer during presentations.

Users who hate the ribbon that Microsoft has introduced – which seems to be a lot of you – have mixed news. The ribbon is still there, but it's hidden until the user touches or clicks on the menu system.

Microsoft has also integrated a lot more functions into Office, allowing Bing and other services to add in content. You can, for example, highlight an address to bring up a Bing Map, or publish on multiple platforms such as Facebook and then amend or remove content with other Metro devices, with the software remembering your last actions and offering a quick window back to the work in progress.

SharePoints new social look in Office 2013

SharePoint gets a social networking revamp

On the social side, Microsoft has changed SharePoint to be more social-friendly. The new interface looks very like a social network site, and it will provide a news feed with threaded discussions, video, and shared applications, and suggest documents you might be interested in. Registered users get a "people car" that contains notes about them, an aggregation of all their social feeds, and ways to contact them via phone.

Skype is also being integrated, nearly two years after Microsoft bought the service. Skype is integrated directly with Office and the Phone 8 operating system so there's little difference between VoIP and traditional telephony modes. Yammer integration is also in the cards.

In terms of changes to the software, Microsoft says this build is the smartest yet. In Excel, for example, the computer will suggest the best kind of charts and tables, and suggest automatic filling of cells based on past content.

Redmond also demoed a large-screen version of the new Office build on an 82-inch screen which comes from Microsoft's recent Perceptive Pixel purchase. Redmond is pitching these as the perfect meeting tool, and one that can allow a style of collaborative working and on-screen videoconferencing that Ballmer said he hopes will stop people concentrating on pencil and paper.

Office on Perceptive Pixel screen

Microsoft suggests meetings can go digital with its hardware and software

Ballmer also said that ARM users would not be second-class citizens in the Office world. Office for ARM will be a fully functional version of the applications suite, with nothing left off – although there was a caveat that it would require "the most advanced hardware."

The preview is for Office 365, while business customers get their own build to try. Installed software will also be sold, but Ballmer said he expects most people will use Office as a service rather than an installed base. No date was given for the final launch of Office 2013. ®

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration

More from The Register

next story
PEAK LANDFILL: Why tablet gloom is good news for Windows users
Sinofsky's hybrid strategy looks dafter than ever
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
POW! Apple smites Macbook Air EFI firmware update borkage
Fruity firm provides digital balm for furious fanbois
Call off the firing squad: HP grants stay of execution to OpenVMS
Startup to take over support for today's Itaniums and beyond
Fiendishly complex password app extension ships for iOS 8
Just slip it in, won't hurt a bit, 1Password makers urge devs
Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over
Plenty on new CEO's todo list – starting with Firefox's slipping grasp
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?