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Windows Store apps for Office probably won't ship until 2014

PowerPoint demo shows little progress made

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Build 2013 Anyone who was hoping to see demos of Windows Store versions of the Office 2013 applications at this year's Build conference was in for a disappointment, because it doesn't look like they'll be ready before 2014, at the earliest.

Oh, Microsoft is working on them, all right. During the Wednesday morning keynote at San Francisco's Moscone Center, Windows boss Julie Larson-Green showed off a Windows Store version of PowerPoint, but only very briefly.

Worse, she described what she showed as "a preview of an alpha version" – meaning it was about as ready for prime time as Saturday morning cartoons – and while it worked, it didn't have much to say for itself.

At this stage, it's just a file viewer. Larson-Green demonstrated navigating through files on SkyDrive and opening a PowerPoint presentation. Transitions, graphical effects, and even video all worked, but that was about it.

After that short demo was over, the app was whisked swiftly away, never to be spoken of again. No mention was made of Word or Excel, both of which are likely to be much more difficult to port to the Windows Store than PowerPoint.

Such a poor showing is likely to disappoint many Windows 8 and Windows RT users, particularly in light of the surprise launch of Office apps for iOS devices earlier this month.

So far, of the four "core" Office 2013 applications, only OneNote comes in a version that's been adapted for Microsoft's Modern UI, and even it lacks much of the functionality of its desktop cousin.

Meanwhile, Windows RT devices and some Windows 8 tablets come bundled with versions of the full Office 2013 suite. But although the latest version of Office brought a few enhancements for touchscreen devices, they don't work particularly well. Office remains fundamentally desktop software at heart.

Earlier rumors suggested we might see the core Office apps in the Windows Store by this October, as part of the "Gemini" wave of Office updates. But those same rumors said Office for iOS wouldn't ship until October of 2014. That proved to be way off, and given the way-beyond-unfinished state of the PowerPoint app that Larson-Green demoed at Build, this Reg hack reckons an October launch date is wishful thinking.

As puzzling as it may seem from a business perspective, it appears that when Microsoft went "all in" for touch UIs, the Office division got left behind. ®

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