Office 15 for Windows 8: 'Together, they're quite magical', says Ballmer
Waiting to hear about the latest edition of Office? New Zealand PC World editor Zara Baxter is in San Francisco learning about Office 15 from Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer.Zara Baxter | Tuesday, July 17 2012
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA: Steve Ballmer introduced the new Microsoft Office at a launch event in San Francisco, early Tuesday morning NZ time. The new Office, referred to generally as Office 15, will be sold primarily as a subscription service.
He stressed that this was an exciting time for Microsoft, with Windows 8 about to be launched, the new Surface tablet on the horizon, and bringing smart glass and Internet Explorer to Xbox. But this, he added was the most exciting, because Office is the flagship product. It's the highest volume app and is the most important for people at work and at home.
While the new Office will be available as a standard boxed product, Ballmer said that most people would follow Microsoft into the cloud, using the subscription product, Office 365, as a service. He also said that people will have to get used to it being in the Metro-style 'application' mode of Windows 8, rather than the 'desktop' mode. It heralds not just a new way of Microsoft delivering the app, but also new uses for the Ribbon, and a software that is designed for tablet as a primary device, as well as laptop or desktop.
Attendees saw demonstrations of the new Powerpoint, Outlook, Word, OneNote and SharePoint services.
What was obvious from the samples we saw was that the new Office is more flexible, designed for reading as well as for authoring, and designed for interactivity - whether it be underlining something or zooming into a slide, or making a change in a document and heading straight to that spot when you reopen it on another device.
The new Excel can use what Microsoft calls 'smart autofill', where if one column has a set of names, and the next a set of numbers, and in a third column you type in, for example, a first name and dollar amount from those first two columns, it will fill in the whole column after you've entered a couple.
Microsoft's email client, Outlook, will be integrated with Skype.
The disappointing aspect, for most attendees, was that while the new Office 15 will be available for Windows 8 devices from phones to tablets and desktops or laptops, it won't be available on Android or iOS. Microsoft appears to be putting all its eggs in the Office basket. Perhaps it expects revenue from increased sales of Wnndows phones and tablets to be more than they would get by releasing an iOS version, or perhaps it's being saved for another day.
You can try the preview now at office.com/preview - this gives you access to the Home Premium version of Office 365, the online offering. We don't have a final release date or pricing yet.
Attendees were given a three month loan device with Windows 8 and Office 15 installed, so we'll bring you more preview content over the next few days.
How to choose the best tablet for you
101 great websites:
You haven't heard of yet
We ask the pros for building tips