Late last month, Microsoft launched a consumer preview of Windows 8, the latest iteration of its popular operating system, and the first to be designed as a cross-platform OS – software for use, in other words, on traditional desktops, laptops, and on tablets. Reviews have been mostly kind. Now Microsoft is releasing a very limited preview of its new Office suite, and according to one tester, the entire Office experience is about to be revolutionized.
The tester in question is Paul Thurrott, who runs Supersite For Windows, a popular tech site. Thurrott spent an undisclosed amount of time with the new Office software – officially titled Office 15 – and he says the products sits "visually, between the new Metro style and the traditional desktop." Metro, of course, is the tiled interface introduced with Windows 8. Thurrott's entire report is here; it's well worth reading in full.
But here's the bottom line: The new Office will be streamlined and in many cases simplified, with plenty of clean lines and Metro-style widgets. Of particular interest to casual users will probably be the new Word set-up, which includes "touch mode" – the ability to manipulate text by on tablet computers and smartphones. No longer will Word be confined to your laptop or desktop. So is that a good thing?
Maybe not, writes Preston Gralla of Computerworld.
"The vast majority of people will be using Office on traditional computers, not tablets, for many years to come and possibly always," Gralla argues. "Making Office more Metro-like is unlikely to make people more productive on traditional computers. As I've written before, I think Microsoft is making a mistake by designing Windows 8 for tablets rather than for PCs. I hope the company doesn't make the same mistake with Office."