The next revolution in Microsoft Office

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Microsoft is rearranging the Office development teams to start a fundamental change in the way Office works.

Julie Larson-Green, Microsoft Office’s Chief Experience Officer and long-time Redmond executive has talked about moving Office from a ‘document’ base to a ‘task‘ base.

At the moment, we use Office through specific programs – Word, Excel or PowerPoint.  The change sees Office broken up into more components like charts and tables.  Those components can be ‘grabbed’ (copied/linked) by other software.  The example given is using Cortana to display a chart without the spreadsheet data it’s based on.

This isn’t a new or innovative as it might seem.  For many, many years, Microsoft has vaguely talked about the concept of the ‘uber-document’ (long before car sharing Uber).  Instead of having Word, Excel and PowerPoint as separate programs, there’d be a single program with a’ blank slate’ into which you can put word-processing, spreadsheet and presentation components.

You can do this already, to a limited extent.  Office Watch has recently looked at adding Excel and Powerpoint parts into Word document.

Office already has a store of common code that’s shared between the programs.  The most prolific sharer is OneNote.  OneNote is a very small program considering what it does.  That’s because OneNote grabs features from other products and reuses them.

Don’t Panic

This is a big change but it’s in very early days.

There’s been comparisons made with the introduction of the ribbon in Office 2007.  Hopefully ‘task based’ Office won’t be introduced in such a sudden and maladroit way.


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