Microsoft Office 2013 announced; focus on multiple devices, cloud

By Peter Gothard
16 Jul 2012 View Comments

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has announced Microsoft's new iteration of Office tools, Office 2013.

Ballmer told the assembled media in San Francisco that Office is now "service first", with a focus on providing cloud functionality via Microsoft Skydrive, and collaboration across a range of supported devices.

Further reading

Ballmer also said that the primary focus for Office will be Windows 8, with touch screens very much at the forefront of the overhauled, Metro-style interface.

Kirk Koenigsbauer, Microsoft Corporate VP of Office, then got up to demonstrate various aspects of the software, using touch gestures and a new circular "radial menu" function to move, resize and import images on the cloud in Powerpoint, as well as annotate and share documents in viewing mode.

Moving between a Samsung tablet, Samsung notebook and a Nokia phone handset, Koenisgbauer demonstrated how the cloud will allow Office users to move swiftly from device to device.

Koenigsbauer also took part in a video conference with five other individuals using Sharepoint, in which participants carried on annotating a prestentation as a group.

Microsoft's Lync suite was later shown as part of a touchscreen demo on an 82 inch Perceptivce Pixel screen, while Koenigsbauer revealed that Microsoft's recent acquisition of Skype is now responsible for video and voice collaboration features within Microsoft products on the cloud.

As part of its new cloud-based setup, Office requires profile logins, in a similar setup to Windows itself. Document histories, preferences and dictionaries will, said Konigsbauer, follow users from device to device via the cloud.

There will also be an update to the previous VBA environment which Microsoft is calling Apps for Offices, which will allow developers to design more advanced, robust programmes to run within the Office environment.

As for whether Office - and Microsoft with it - is moving away from disc-based software in order to more fully embrace the cloud, Ballmer confirmed that it won't be taking the plunge this time, but hinted the company may be preparing to back off:

"You can still buy the software and install it," said Ballmer. "That's not going away," before adding, "Certainly not as this state in the game."

There was no word on the rumoured PDF editing capability, or an iOS version of Office 15, but stay tuned for updates as Computing attends a business-focused Office 2013 presentation very shortly.

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