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.”