On January 31, Microsoft announced the Technical Preview of its next-gen office productivity suite codenamed “Office 15.”
Aspiring customers started enquiring “Will Microsoft make Office 15 a Metro-style app on Windows 8?” The Verge reported that the Office 15 suite not beign a “Metro style,” instead, incorporating some Metro elements to varying degrees in different Office apps. Microsoft will actually feature more white space, and that it will be f more ocused on content than previous versions were.
According to Verge:
“Microsoft’s next generation of Office, codenamed Office 15, will receive interface tweaks to make it more touch friendly on Windows 8, including a radial menu system, but won’t be rebuilt as full “Metro style” apps using the new WinRT programming model. That’s the word according to our sources, who say that the core Office applications will be flatter, feature more white space, and use fewer lines in an effort to focus on content, but that the look will literally be window dressing — Office 15 apps will still be traditional Windows apps underneath.”
Office 15 screenshot that was leaked back in April last year:
The only thing it is said to lack is the Metro UI, which would have made it a true Windows 8 application. Essentially, however, Office 15 compenents will be traditional Windows applications, which should make them remain highly usable on non-touch Windows devices. The Verge mentioned that this is mainly due to timing constraints, given that it would require considerable effort to re-write the entire Office suite to use the WinRT development model. However, there’ll be two Metro style office apps namely OneNote and Lync, both of which should make an appearance in the upcoming Windows Store, as both of which already have an iPad version available in the App Store.
A source cited claiming that Office 15 on ARM will run in a restricted Windows 8 ARM desktop mode that should increase its power efficiency significantly. “We’re hearing that the ARM version will also be desktop applications, running in a restricted Windows 8 ARM desktop mode designed for power efficiency,” the source as quoted saying.
In fact, during CES 2011 Microsoft showed off a version of Office running on an early build of Windows 8 on ARM hardware. (see third video below)
Windows 8 will arrive on both ARM tablets and on Intel, which will allow it to take off faster than other mobile operating systems.
However, ARM’s CEO Warren East believes that Android-powered tablets too will eventually start gaining steam, “Actually when Android phones were introduced, there was a lot of hype. And then, actually, they didn’t take off in the sort of way that reflected that hype,” he said.
“Consumers are familiar with Microsoft and very familiar with Windows and they’re less familiar with an Android environment. Microsoft has an awareness advantage with consumers that the Android folks didn’t have,” Warren East said, CNet reports.
Some folks have assumed that Microsoft would have to go Metro in order to make Office 15 more touch-centric and suited for Windows 8 tablets and touch PCs. But Microsoft design director Steve Kaneko told the Verge late last year that this wasn’t necessarily the case:
“(The large Metro style interface, designed for touch interaction, doesn’t scale in an obvious way to software like Office that has a lot of dense information. While Metro attempts to eliminate what Microsoft calls ‘chrome’ (superfluous design elements), he says that chrome has traditionally served a functional purpose in crowded applications, and the design team now has to express grouping and visual hierarchy with composition, layout, font scaling, and contrast ratios,” stated Kaneko.
Verge also mentions a “radial dial” as providing a way for Office 15 users to more easily access the product on touch devices. MJF is reporting that “Microsoft has been tinkering with the idea of the “radial dial” since 2007. In this transcript of a Convergence speech by CEO Steve Ballmer, company showed off the dial, a navigation concept from Microsoft’s Center of Information Work,” as rported Matthew Miller, who has also posted a YouTube video link where the radial dial makes an appearance at around the 5:10 mark. (see first video below)
The new “radial menu system” might be seen in Office Labs and Microsoft Research’s InkSeine project, which features a similar radial menu-based navigation for Tablet PCs (of course, the one in Office 15 would be optimised for touch and be more polished). (see second video below)
Here are the videos mentioned above: