Microsoft hints at Metro style for next version of Office

By Tom Warren, on 17th Sep 11 11:45 am with 27 Comments

Microsoft is starting to drop hints that a Metro style Office app will be available for Windows 8.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer hinted at the company’s work during a financial analysts meeting on Wednesday. “You ought to expect that we are rethinking and working hard on what it would mean to do Office Metro style,” said Ballmer, answering a question about Office for Windows 8 Metro interface. ComputerWorld reports that analysts believe Microsoft’s Metro style for Office is a definite thing. “I think they need something in Metro to enable people to work on documents on tablets,” said Rob Helm, an analyst working at research firm Directions on Microsoft. “They need something on ARM.”

Microsoft recently admitted that the company will only support Metro apps in Windows 8 ARM but it’s not clear how Office will stack up in ARM, a typical desktop application that requires mouse and keyboard input in most Office applications. Microsoft’s Office 15, the codename for the next version, has leaked several times over the past six months. A full Outlook Metro interface was revealed in April after a number of early Outlook 15 screenshots leaked in March.

Microsoft isn’t discussing how it will provide Office support in the Windows 8 Metro interface but I suspect that the support will be basic and allow for moderate editing without a keyboard and mouse. Microsoft isn’t ready to dump the keyboard and mouse just yet and nor is the industry. The keyboard and mouse is an essential tool for precision based computing. Office applications like Excel would become difficult to operate in touch only conditions given the complex nature of some spreadsheets.

Office 15, known to have passed the Milestone 2 phase of development, will include new applications. Microsoft is working on a new meeting application for Office 15. The company is also seeking to employ an Outlook software development engineer at its corporate headquarters in Redmond, Washington. “We are now going to take OWA to the next level and build the next generation clients for desktop and the latest mobile and slate devices,” said a recent the job listing. “The next generation client will include world class messaging, contacts, calendaring and social collaboration for both enterprise and cloud, and will use the latest in web technology.”

Office Outlook 15 Metro UI

  • Sebastian Gorgon

    Looks very beautiful… imagine the black version! 

    • Bas Koene

      Custom colors would be a great idea.

    • Sebastian Gorgon

      You can choose from 3 colors in Office 2010, the black skin in the best but with this, custom colors are needed 

    • Bas Koene

      Oh, I didn’t know that! Thanks for the tip ;)

  • Bas Koene

    Very nice!!!

  • Jason Cartwright

    After just installing Office 2010 on Windows8, a metro version is definitely needed.

  • Tommy

    Watermark-Background of an image or photo would be cool

    • rsgx

      As much as I love that in Zune, in a program primarily used for business?

      No thanks.

  • Ivan Enzel

    15? 2015? very long

    • Grannyville7989

      15 is just the version number, not the year. Office 2010 was known as Office 14 during development.

  • Grannyville7989

    I want the Ribbon UI in Windows 8′s Explorer to look like that in the Outlook screenshot.

  • vfx2be
    • Eingoluq

      ok, wow. did you do that? that’s the best I have ever seen explorer. loving the computer, phone and skydrive view at the bottom.

    • vfx2be

      Yes I did that, here is a second exemple with ribbon open :

    • Eingoluq

      well played. explain the zune controls at the top right. what the concept surrounding it?

    • vfx2be

      Basically, you can control Zune ( as you can see ) from the explorer. A single click allow you to switch the window to the regular Zune. From Zune you may be able to switch to the regular explorer. 

      I based this explorer on Zune design, so I finally figured it should be one single app ( zune + explo )

    • Eingoluq

      again well done

    • Callumpy


    • Avatar X

      Well done, but the mocks up from Microsoft i have seen, do not look like that. 

  • Garrett Adams

    Shouldn’t the third paragraph read, Microsoft recently admitted that Windows 8 ARM will only support Metro apps, not the reverse?

  • Anonymous

    Oh please no. Metro does not belong everywhere

    • Pham

      Its for tablets… Now stop overreacting.

    • Anonymous

      Wow, a bit of a comment fail on my part. I actually like Metro for mobile uses but I can’t stand it on desktop. I still don’t think it needs to be used everywhere though

    • Anonymous

      you’ve never used the Zune software then. its the best UI out there hands down. Its simple but still powerful.

  • Owais_503

    is it just me that now microsoft is confusing everyone with windows 8 and xbox and their other product

  • Avi Jit
  • Anonymous

    The article is wrong.

    “Steven Sinofsky, chief of Windows and Windows Live, was forced to admit to financial analysts on Wednesday that typical x86 legacy desktop applications will not run on Windows 8 ARM”

    is NOT SAYING THAT  “company will only support Metro apps in Windows 8 ARM”

    Nothing prevents a non-desktop application from being recompiled for ARM.  It is just that Microsoft will not provide a x86 emulation mode for ARM.