Microsoft to deliver final version of Office 2013 RT starting in early November

Summary:Microsoft's Office Home & Student 2013 bundle for ARM-based Windows devices, due to begin rolling out later this year, is slightly different from its x86-based counterpart.

Microsoft let slip back in June that the version of Microsoft Office 2013 that would be available to Windows RT tablets and PC customers would be a "preview" test-build. In a September 13 blog post, Microsoft confirmed that information and added a few more particulars about the Office Home & Student 2013 RT bundle that will be available to those with ARM-based Windows devices.

Office 2013 RT won't be available for purchase as a separate product. It will be "included" with ARM-based Windows RT tablets and PCs and will function as a Desktop app, meaning it won't be available through the Windows Store.

The final version of Office Home & Student 2013 RT will be available to customers between early November through January 2013, with exact timing depending on language, Microsoft officials said. Those who buy Windows RT devices before the final is out will get the preview build, which will be updated to final for free via Windows Update.

(The rumored release to manufacturing date for the final version of Office 2013 for x86/x64 hardware is November 2012 , with consumer/general availability in early 2013. Microsoft officials still have not said when Office 2013 will RTM or launch.)

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The Office 2013 RT apps -- Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote -- are very similar to, but not exactly the same as their Office 2013 counterparts, as they had to be built to run on ARM. Yes, they were built on the same code base as "regular" Office, but the RT apps had to be tweaked to meet the security and battery-life stipulations of ARM-based hardware, Microsoft officials noted in this week's blog post.

Because of these requirements on ARM, Microsoft is dropping support for a number of features with Office 2013 RT that will still be available iin the x86/x64 versions of Office 2013.

Features that won't be supported/will be limitedly supported in Office RT, listed in the "Office Next" blog post -- include:

  • Macros, add-ins, and features that rely on ActiveX controls or 3rd party code such as the PowerPoint Slide Library ActiveX control and Flash Video Playback
  • Certain legacy features such as playing older media formats in PowerPoint (upgrade to modern formats and they will play) and editing equations written in Equation Editor 3.0, which was used in older versions of Office (viewing works fine)
  • Certain email sending features, since Windows RT does not support Outlook or other desktop mail applications (opening a mail app, such as the mail app that comes with Windows RT devices, and inserting your Office content works fine)
  • Creating a Data Model in Excel 2013 RT (PivotTables, QueryTables, Pivot Charts work fine)
  • Recording narrations in PowerPoint 2013 RT
  • Searching embedded audio/video files, recording audio/video notes, and importing from an attached scanner with OneNote 2013 RT (inserting audio/video notes or scanned images from another program works fine)

Microsoft officials said to expect a more detailed release schedule for Office 2013 RT on October 26, which is the day Windows 8 and Windows RT devices will be available at retail.

Topics: ARM, Microsoft, Software

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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