Microsoft offers glimpse of Office 2013 on Windows RT tablet

Microsoft offers glimpse of Office 2013 on Windows RT tablet

Summary: Office 2013 RT seems to be the final branding for the Office 15 apps that will run on Windows RT tablets, based on a demo during a Microsoft TechEd presentation.

TOPICS: Microsoft

The June 12 Microsoft TechEd keynote was billed as being all about Windows 8 for business. But the only bit of new information shared during the hour-and-a-half presentation was a quick glimpse of branding for the next version of Office, codenamed "Office 15."

(click on image to enlarge)

During a demonstration on stage of Windows on ARM, Director of Program Management Linda Averett showed a quick glimpse of what Excel will look like on a Windows on ARM tablet. The software was identified as a preview of "Office 2013 RT" (with the "RT" representing Windows RT, the final name of Windows on ARM).

(A screen capture of the app showing the name was captured by Rafael Rlivera of and is used above with his permission.)

Microsoft officials have said previously that "Office 15" versions of four apps -- Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote -- would be "included" with Windows on ARM. Microsoft execs have continued to refuse to offer more details, such as whether these are full versions of the Office apps and/or whether they will be preloaded on all Windows on ARM tablets.

Select testers have been running Office 15 preview versions since February 2012 or so. Microsoft officials said the company plans to make a public beta of Office 15 available "this summer." The rumored availability date for the beta has been June for a while now. And several testers have said previously that documentation has mentioned the "Office 2013" name as the planned final brand for Microsoft's coming client and server Office 15 apps.

Antoine Leblond, Corporate Vice President, Windows Web Services, who was the lead keynote speaker, showed off some prototype business apps for Windows 8 during the keynote. (Among them was the New Belgium Brewing CRM app developed by Sonoma Partners about which I blogged earlier this year.)

Microsoft officials seem to have decided that the majority of the TechEd audience had never seen or read about Windows 8 before today, as the keynote was very elementary, in terms of the demos and information provided. Microsoft has offered external testers a chance to download and use versions of Windows 8 since September 2011.

Windows 8 is expected by my contacts to be released to manufacturing this summer, possibly as early as July, and to be generally available in September. Office 2013 is thought to be on a track to RTM in November 2012 and to be generally available in early 2013.

Topic: Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Makes sense.

    They've been using year names since Office 95. Office XP was an exception, but some of the documentation still referred to it as "Office 2002".

    Still better than the open source products. Those truly still look like Office 95.

    (Just thought I'd get that in there before the Linux snobs hijack this article like they always do)
  • Clean UI

    I'm really impressed at how much they've cleaned up the Office UI. Good riddance to over zealous gradients. Overused, IMO.

    Very much look forward to seeing this release.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion

      The Chrome effects in Office have always been way over done. It ok to add some 3d elements to the UI but when it distracts from the content and the functionality, its more harm than good.

      I too am really impressed with where Microsoft is going, they finally got a clue and are minimalizing their UIs.

    I HATE the look of the all caps menu. They have done it on VS 11 too, but I thought it was just because it was Beta. I see it is on this office demo too.

      Oh wait, it's not you that's shouting. It's Office. :)

        Microsoft caved in to the negative feedback about the UI in the next Visual Studio, I hope they don't try to force this lifeless and dull UI into Office too. Drab, boring, colorless, uniform, generic, unappealing, depressing, yuck. It doesn't have to be garish like a French carnival, but it doesn't have to go to the other extreme either.
      • shh, menus... be vewy vewy quiet

        all-caps is only shouting when used in conversation, or subject lines. :-)
    • Then you really don't understand why...

      The all caps menu makes it visually clear that it is the navigation and creates visual separation from the rest of the UI. It also creates a clean horizontal distinction.

      In a desktop app like office, using Font Size scales to represent visual hierarchy (as seen in Metro Apps) and clearly define elements is harder because it takes up more space. So MS used other visual aspects to more clearly segregate elements of the UI. All CAPS is one of them.
      • not for Excel

        A major piece of the Excel UI is the row-column worksheet frame, and usually columns are identified by upper case letters. How does all-caps ribbon tabs make the distinction between ribbon and worksheet frame clearer? Especially if the formula bar were hidden?

        Isn't clean horizontal distinction already accomplished by ribbon sections (looks like they can't be called [i]tabs[/i] under Windows RT; just another menu now) exclusively between the app window title bar above and the document workspace below?

        Couldn't boldface but proper case have been used? I accept that this is just a design decision and doesn't affect functionality, but it does seem that it's jarring to some people.
      • Why not?

        I think that bold typeface would distract more from the content, in this case the worksheet frame, than normal typeface but all capitals. If you have a closer look at the screenshot, the column letters are bold instead of the tab captions, and that makes perfect sense: it highlights the columns rather than the tabs.

        spaulagain already gave a good explaination here.
    • Grow up

      Why do you overly anal people just have to HATE anything that doesn't meet your will 100%?
  • Microsoft offers glimpse of Office 2013 on Windows RT tablet

    Looks good, nice simple clean format.
    Loverock Davidson-
  • Move to Office 365 now to get Office 2013 first

    Windows 8 won't release till sometime closer to October/November... just in time for Christmas and most likely alongside the release of the next iPhone.

    More info on why customers are choosing Office 365 over Google Apps on our live webcast at 11am PST
    • RTM date

      But it has to RTM well in advance of the October/November timeframe for OEMs to get it into devices and on shelves for the holiday purchase season. Not sure why Windows 8 needs to appear around the same time as the next iPhone unless you're referring to Windows 8 being the underpinnings of Windows Phone 8.
  • Why

    It looks pretty and I agree it is cleaner and I like where MS is going with it but why do I need it?
  • who cares what it looks like?

    Does it come with VBA?

    Can it handle embedded query results?

    Will it come with the lightweight equation editor?

    Will it support pivot tables in Excel?

    Will it support complex tables in Word?

    Will it support embedded Excel tables and charts in PPT and Word?

    Classic: waste time oohing and ahhing over the UI, and quietly accept that MSFT has mentioned squat all about whether it'll be worthwhile or little more than a document viewer on Windows RT tablets.
    • Usability?

      I think a lot of people care about what it looks like when it comes to usability, and this clean, simple UI looks superior to the more traditional look of other office applications.
      • plenty of Office 2010 images online for comparison

        How does the image in the article above differ? No drawn tab outlines. No color gradients, though that's unclear. Not really any other differences. Does that mean tab outlines and color gradients are productivity destroying?

        The vertical scrollbar on the right side of the image looks like it's from another program. In any case, there doesn't seem to be a collapse/expand button for the Office on ARM ribbon. If there isn't and the ribbon is always collapsed unless the user is actively seeking commands in it, a lot of the justification MSFT offered for the ribbon vs classic menus/toolbars no longer holds.

        I wonder how much of the justification for the Metro UI will also prove to be short-term equivocation.
  • Ribbon??

    Oh dear where has the ribbon gone??? I thought the ribbon was the pinnacle of user interfaces. How could MS forget this essential element?
    • Nowhere...

      It's still there; it's only minimized by default.