Microsoft is busy talking about Windows 10 and how the operating system will change the way people play and look for information. That’s interesting in itself, but what almost stole the show was Microsoft Office for Windows 10.
Microsoft showed off a touch-centric version of Microsoft Office for Windows 10 users earlier today. This new version of Microsoft Office will be one of the Universal apps running on the operating system. In short, users can expect that this new version of Microsoft Office works on Windows 10 notebooks, desktops, tablets and Windows phones.
The version of Microsoft Office for touch we saw during today’s briefing looked mostly like Office 2013. A long strip allowing users to browse recent documents was the first thing to show on the screen on Windows phones and tablets. To the right of that recent documents area was a list of different document types users could create.
Microsoft has rolled a ribbon into the app bar for users of phones running Windows 10. The company quickly cycled through Word and PowerPoint. Joe Belfiore, a Microsoft executive in charge of the Windows experience, also noted that Excel was among the apps being upgraded. Microsoft didn’t discuss the new Microsoft Office touch’ price.
Microsoft has been at the receiving end of tons of criticism for its approach to Microsoft Office lately. The Desktop versions of Microsoft Office – the ones that users install on notebooks and desktops – have only gotten better in the last few years. The same isn’t trouble of the mobile and tablet versions of Microsoft Office. At first, Microsoft created Office 365 apps for iPhones and devices running Google’s Android operating system. In order to get these apps, users needed to pay for an Office 365 subscription every month or once a year.
Earlier this year Microsoft killed the Office 365 requirement for iPhone users. A little later the company revealed Office for iPad, a custom made app tailored for iOS. That app, plus the iPhone and Android versions were better than what Windows Phone users had available to them. Even today, Microsoft Office for Windows Phone is way behind what iPhone and Android users get absolutely free.
Besides showing off new versions of Microsoft Office, Microsoft gave users an in-depth look at Windows 10. Cortana, Windows Phone’s personal assistant will come to testers over the next few months and be available in the final version of Windows 10 later this year. Microsoft also showed off Continuum for the first time.
Continuum is what Microsoft is calling the interface that’ll automatically adjust how users interact with Windows. When there’s a keyboard, Windows 10 users will get something akin to the Desktop interface from Windows 7. Microsoft says those users can still expect a version of Microsoft Office for the Desktop. When users only have touch, that’s when the Start Screen, full screen apps and this new touch-centric version of Windows 10 will take over. Microsoft also revealed that upgrading to Windows 10 will cost users absolutely nothing if they upgrade within the first year and are running Windows 7 or Windows 8.
Presumably, Microsoft has plans to release this new version of Microsoft Office for touch alongside Windows 10 for notebooks, desktops and phones. It’ll have to if it wants to maintain one of the few advantages Windows for phones still has: its built-in native Office experience. Again, cost and specific features remain unclear, but it’s unlikely Microsoft would charge for this version of Office considering users can get touch-centric versions on iPhone and Android for free.