The preview video for Windows 8 on ARM devices (called WOA) has some views of the next version of Office – aka Office 15.
It gives a small idea of what the next Office will look like on touch-screen devices. Only a tiny look, it’s like trying to understand how a car handles by looking at a few exterior photos.
According to the video, Office 15 for ARM will support Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote in their ‘15’ incarnations.
No mention of the other Office apps like Publisher or Picture Manager so it looks like they’ve been dropped. If Sharepoint Workspace is dropped for Office on ARM devices it’ll make corporate use of Windows 8 tablet devices a lot harder because that app provides efficient offline access to Sharepoint content.
Windows 8 will have a ‘tiles’ interface like the latest Windows Mobile. Touch the tile to start the program. This screen image shows the tile interface including tiles for Excel 15, Word 15, PowerPoint 15 and OneNote 15 among many.
Office 15 - tiles in Windows 8
However the more familiar Windows interface including Start Button/Menu and Explorer are still there. The new ‘Metro’ interface is really a fancy overlay on Windows, not a complete replacement.
The Word 15 image has a minimized ribbon on the top row so we only see the tabs. Presumably that’s to show the document fully and also hide any changes to the ribbon in Office 15. How easy it is to use the ribbon with a touch interface will be a key test of Windows 8 and Office 15 on tablets.
Office 15 - Word example
The minimized ribbon is already available in Office 2007 and Office 2010 but isn’t as well used as it should be on smaller screens. See Make the Office 2007 ribbon go away and Office 2010 – a ribbon minimize option.
We’ve already mentioned the new Word 15 Design tab and Sign in on the title bar.
The right side of the document has comments from other authors in what appears to be yet another re-design of the reviewing views in Word.
Apologies for the quality of the images; they are taken off the video from Microsoft.
Office 15 - Excel example
Note the Windows 7-like Taskbar at the bottom. Under the new ‘Metro’ interface is a more familiar Windows look.
Office 15 - PowerPoint example
Notice the ‘right-click’ menu that gives spell-check options.
This is just the ‘Getting Started’ page with no indication of how OneNote 15 will look.
Office 15 - Onenote example
All apps including Office 15 for Windows 7 on ARM will be bought via the Microsoft Store. This lets Microsoft to bypass retail outlets and keep more of the Microsoft Office revenue for itself.
ARM is mainly for tablet PC’s because its requires less power than Intel based chips we use on desktops and laptops.
The Office software we all have now won’t work on a Windows / ARM device. ARM chips need special software, different from the standard Intel based Office software. It’s a bit like 64-bit Office which can’t run on 32-bit computers.
There’s a touchscreen interface, similar to the tiles in the current Windows Mobile, as well as the usual keyboard and mouse combination.
Microsoft stresses that apps like calendar and contacts plus Office 15 will be the same for both Intel and ARM versions of Windows 8. It will be interesting to see how similar they really are. In the past there have usually been some bugs or feature differences between releases of the ‘same’ product. The 32 and 64 bit versions of Office 2010 have some crucial differences that Microsoft has refused to fix. It’s very likely that the Intel and ARM versions of Office 15 will have differences too.
A ‘consumer preview’ of Windows 8 for Intel 32 and 64 bit will be available by the end of this month. Windows 8 for ARM devices will come later when there’s devices released that will run it.
At the moment tablet devices are mainly for consumption of media (reading, listening, watching) and less for making or editing content. The interface is the key to making any touch-screen device as capable as a traditional keyboard/mouse. There was nothing about the touch interface in this video and so it’s hard to understand the glowing praise for Windows 8/ARM that came from some media outlets based on a limited 5.5 minute video.
Article posted: Tuesday, 14 February 2012
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