Full Office applications coming to ARM-based tablets this year, says Microsoft

By Andrew Charlesworth
10 Feb 2012 View Comments
Powerpoint on Office 2010

Office workers will be using Excel, Word and PowerPoint on ARM-based tablet computers running Windows 8 later this year, Microsoft has revealed.

In a lengthy blog detailing the engineering development of Windows 8 for computers using ARM's processors (WOA), Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft president of the Windows division, said WOA includes desktop versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote applications, codenamed Office 15.

Further reading

"WOA will be a no-compromise product for people who want to have the full benefits of familiar Office productivity software and compatibility ...web browser, apps from Microsoft, and access to apps in the Windows Store," writes Sinofsky.

To tablet users the WOA interface will look like a familiar Windows desktop on a conventional PC.

"WOA is a new member of the Windows family, much like Windows Server, Windows Embedded, or Windows Phone," says Sinofsky.

This would make it easier for workers who find it difficult to transition from conventional PCs to tablets and further boost the rollout of tablet computers beyond executive toys and tech-savvy media types, industry experts commented.

Industry sectors, such as healthcare, which require a high level of mobility within a networked "campus" and have large quantities of data tied up in legacy Windows applications would especially benefit.

Office 15 applications have been re-architected for touch-driven interfaces and to minimise power and compute-resource consumption, says Sinofsky.

But that means WOA "does not support running, emulating, or porting existing x86/64 desktop apps" so developers will have to write their apps to the WinRT API.

"This engineering work is an important part of being able to provide Office software with WOA, as these are not simply recompilations or ports, but significant reworking of the products with a complete and consistent user experience and fidelity with their new x86/64 counterparts," writes Sinofsky.

WOA also includes support for Internet Explorer 10 with hardware-accelerated HTML5 and support for new Metro-style apps, including mail, calendaring, contacts, photos, and storage apps.

Microsoft plans to launch WOA on hardware from ARM licensees Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments at the same time as Windows 8 is rolled out on conventional PC hardware.

A beta of Windows 8 on x86/64 will be available for download by the end of February.

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