Desktop Version of Microsoft Office 2016 Coming -- In 2015
Set for release later this year, the next update to Microsoft's desktop Office suite will keep its focus on laptop and PC usability. However, the mobile Office apps being designed to work with Microsoft's much-anticipated Windows 10 operating system will deliver a distinctly touch-optimized experience.
"We are hard at work on the next release of the Office desktop suite that will be called Office 2016. (Unexpected, I know!)," Julia White, general manager for the Office Product Management team, wrote in a blog post on Thursday. "We have compelling new experiences coming as part of this Office suite," she said, adding that the update will likely become "generally available in the second half of 2015."
White's comments came one day after Microsoft hosted a preview event at its Redmond, Washington, campus for Windows 10, which is also expected to be released later this year. While Windows 10 will bring back some traditional features, such as the Start Menu that went missing with the touch-focused design of Windows 8 and 8.1, the OS will also reflect Microsoft's "mobile first" philosophy.
The next, mobile-friendly iteration of Office -- described as "universal" apps -- will come free and installed on phones and small tablets that run Windows 10, White wrote in her blog post. Users with other devices will be able to download the mobile suite through the Windows Store.
Those apps will include touch-optimized versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook. Users will be able to get a closer look at them when the Windows 10 Technical Preview is released "in the coming weeks," White said.
"As 'universal' Office apps, they truly are the same app across device size, providing a consistent way for independent software vendors and developers to extend and integrate with Office apps," White added.
We reached out to Microsoft to learn more details about the desktop-focused Office 2016 suite. However, the spokesperson who replied only reiterated what White stated in her blog post: "We will have more to share on Office 2016 in the coming months...."
'No Compromises' Experience
During Wednesday's Windows 10 preview event, Joe Belfiore, Microsoft's corporate vice president for the Operating Systems Group, gave demos showing how Office apps like Word and PowerPoint will look and perform on mobile devices using the new OS.
"We think this version of Office, tailored for Windows 10 on touch devices, will give people a very complete, easy-to-use, consistent, cross-device productivity experience," Belfiore told the audience during his presentation.
The mobile version of Word, for example, incorporates the familiar Office ribbon into the app bar.
"With a device like this, you get a nearly no-compromises experience in terms of completeness, fidelity and richness as you're trying to create documents or collaborate with people on documents," Belfiore said. "We think this will be a great benefit to everybody trying to be productive on their phones."
Upon its release, Windows 10 will be available to Windows 7 and 8 users as a free upgrade, and will remain that way for one year, Microsoft has said. Microsoft last year also announced plans to release an updated, public beta version of Office for Mac in the first half of this year. The Mac suite is expected to become generally available later in 2015.