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.
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.
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.