Microsoft: Windows 8 on ARM to 'include' some Office 15 apps

Microsoft: Windows 8 on ARM to 'include' some Office 15 apps

Summary: Microsoft is planning to include Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote on Windows 8 on ARM devices. But exactly what does 'include' mean in this case?

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Another tidbit from Microsoft's February 9 post on the "Building Windows 8" blog has to do with Microsoft Office.

There's been back-and-forth speculation as to how Microsoft plans to make Office available for Windows 8. Will it be a Metro-style app (meaning rewritten to rely on the Windows 8 WinRT runtime)? Or just have a Metro-like look and feel?

Today's post gives a bit of a clue.

From Windows President Steven Sinofsky's latest blog epic:

"WOA (Windows on ARM) includes desktop versions of the new Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. These new Office applications, codenamed 'Office 15,' have been significantly architected for both touch and minimized power/resource consumption, while also being fully-featured for consumers and providing complete document compatibility. WOA supports the Windows desktop experience including File Explorer, Internet Explorer 10 for the desktop, and most other intrinsic Windows desktop features—which have been significantly architected for both touch and minimized power/resource consumption."

So now we know that Microsoft is not making Office 15 a Metro-style application. It will be a Desktop application, meaning it won't be redone to take advantage of WinRT. We still don't know how much the various Office 15 apps will sport the "Metro" look and feel (though I'd expect at least these four -- Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote -- will look Metro'ish.)

Office 15 is currently in the technical preview phase among pre-selected Microsoft customers and partners. Microsoft officials haven't said when the final version will ship, but I've heard before the end of this calendar year.

My biggest question after reading today's post is what does "include" mean here, in terms of these four Office apps being "included" with Windows 8? Will these four Office 15 apps will be bundled on Windows 8 ARM PCs and tablets? Will they be free? Will these simply be new versions of the existing Office Web Apps -- the Webified versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote that Microsoft already offers for free?

I've asked for clarification. No word back yet.

One more tidbit from today's post. Microsoft is going to make "a limited number of test PCs" running ARM available to developers and partners around the end of February. These will be doled out as part of a "closed, invitation-only program." According to the post: "These are not samples or hints of forthcoming PCs, but tools for hardware and software engineers running WOA-specific hardware."

Update: Microsoft isn't sharing any more about what Sinofsky meant by "include" in this post. But Sinofsky did tell Ina Fried at AllThingsD that the only Desktop Apps that will be allowed on the Desktop on Windows on ARM will be Office 15 and elements of the Microsoft operating system. Every other app on WOA must be Metro-STyle (meaning WinRT-based and will be distributed and updated via the Windows Store and Windows Update.

Topics: Processors, Collaboration, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

About

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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  • Stripped down touch-centric versions?

    That's what it sounded like to me.
    x I'm tc
    • RE: Microsoft: Windows 8 on ARM to 'include' some Office 15 apps

      @jdakula

      These new Office applications, codenamed ???Office 15,??? have been significantly architected for both touch and minimized power/resource consumption, while also being *FULLY-FEATURED* for consumers and providing complete document compatibility.

      (Reading is Fundemental)
      NoAxToGrind
      • RE: Microsoft: Windows 8 on ARM to 'include' some Office 15 apps

        @NoAxToGrind It's great news that they've confirmed they are including the Desktop on ARM, but not allowing sideloading to the ARM desktop is a big mistake. This means we will have to jailbreak WOA similar to iOS to enable the functionality that most users expect from a computer.

        I see the clear benefits of restricting most consumers to MS approved applications (protection from malware, viruses, etc.) but a device that only runs MS approved applications is not a real computer. ARM devices are going to have to be really sexy in order to overcome the far greater functionality of their Intel counterparts. I worry that WOA becomes a momentary gimmick/waste of time. If Intel eventually develops x86 chips that enable hardware similar in battery/size/weight/heat to ARM then WoA becomes immediately worthless.
        cool8man
      • You don't get it

        @cool8man

        It's a device, not a computer. These will still run Metro apps that your Windows 8 PC will run, but they may not be a full replacement of a general-purpose PC for some. It is not much different than an iPad in that respect (although it's still better since you have USB, real printer support, Office, etc.)
        Joe_Raby
      • RE: Microsoft: Windows 8 on ARM to 'include' some Office 15 apps

        @Joe_Raby I get that it is a device. The question is why would someone choose a device when they could get a computer that does everything the device does, plus a lot more?

        The only justification that exists right now are battery/size/heat. If Intel ever successfully catches up with ARM or gets to a point where the differences in battery/size/heat are marginal then WOA becomes completely pointless.

        This is a shame because if MS gave WOA the full capabilities of x86 Windows there would still be a reason for it to exist even if Intel finally makes a competitive product for mobile. Basically we're all operating right now under the assumption that Intel will not get it's act together in a reasonable time frame. Intel now has the power to make WOA completely irrelevant and a huge black eye for Microsoft.
        cool8man
      • RE: Microsoft: Windows 8 on ARM to 'include' some Office 15 apps

        @cool8man: Exactly. The major benefit of Windows 8 ARM over Intel is battery/size/weight/heat. If Intel manage to fix this with their SOC, there is no reason to not use Intel chips again and therefore giving you full app support back.

        Microsoft couldn't really give 3rd party app support to ARM tablets because it A: Expects software developrs to re-code all their x86 based apps for ARM and B: Stopping power hungry x86 apps from working on a tablet helps with battery life etc...

        The people who buy Intel tablets will be more concerned about x86 apps than battery life.

        @ Joe_Raby: "It's a device, not a computer."

        Tell that to all the people waiting specifically for Windows on a tablet to get the "full" experience. Microsoft knows one of it's draws, it's full-fat Windows on a tablet.

        Don't expect much great printer support. Microsoft will be managing driver support over Windows Update but it still relies on printer manufacturers to create ARM compatible drivers first.
        bradavon
      • RE: Microsoft: Windows 8 on ARM to 'include' some Office 15 apps

        @NoAxToGrind
        "Fully-Featured [i]for consumers[/i]" sounds like corporate speak for "does what the average schmo will need it to" not "does everything the full version does." At least, that's how I [i]read[/i] it.

        For example, this might be the same (or similar to the) version of Office that will appear on Windows Phone 8.

        No doubt, if you want the "fully-fully-featured" version, you will need to pay for it. Top versions of Office cost [i]more[/i] than the expected price of most of these slates.
        x I'm tc
      • RE: Microsoft: Windows 8 on ARM to 'include' some Office 15 apps

        @Jdakula not 100% correct. You get the same Word, Excel, Powerpoint in all versions of Outlook therefore MOST people will not need the higher bundles - which all they do is provide more programs/ not more features in any particular program.
        Djblois
      • RE: Microsoft: Windows 8 on ARM to 'include' some Office 15 apps

        @Bradavon, if you read Steven Sinofsky's post, they are including a new printer driver model in Windows 8 that will immediately support most existing printers on the market, so there won't be a requirement for manufacturers to write ARM drivers
        CageySee
    • RE: Microsoft: Windows 8 on ARM to 'include' some Office 15 apps

      @jdakula If you watch the video on the B8 blog, you'll see some of the Office15 UI - it looks very similar to Office 2010 today.

      Of course, it's early days yet and they're not done with the code, but they'll be nearing completion of all the features they plan to ship and will have undertaken a great deal of user experience testing to make sure the workflow works well.
      bitcrazed
      • RE: Microsoft: Windows 8 on ARM to 'include' some Office 15 apps

        @bitcrazed
        I am only suggesting that if there is a version of Office that ships with WOA (and probably WOx86, too), it will probably be "light." MS already gives away a light version of Office to anyone with a Web browser, so I see no reason why they couldn't put a light offline version in the next version of Windows.

        But Office is worth hundreds of dollars an install to MS. They are not going to put the full version on a four hundred dollar ARM (or x86) slate.
        x I'm tc
      • RE: Microsoft: Windows 8 on ARM to 'include' some Office 15 apps

        @jdakula wrote:<br>" But Office is worth hundreds of dollars an install to MS. They are not going to put the full version on a four hundred dollar ARM (or x86) slate.<br><br>But, will it be a full version? There's no mention of Outlook, Access and Publisher, making it equivalent to the Office Home and Student edition which sells for approx. $120.<br><br>IMO this is smart on Microsoft's part. The core apps in Microsoft Office that matter the most to people are Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Including OneNote is also a nice touch. And assuming that WOA is targeted at 10-inch form factor tablets like the iPad, Microsoft's OEMs can probably get away with charging a bit more than $499 since Office will be preloaded in the OS.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
    • RE: Microsoft: Windows 8 on ARM to 'include' some Office 15 apps

      @jdakula It sounds to me like they've decided to drop the pretense of a level playing field. ISVs are now officially second-class citizens.
      symbolset
  • RE: Microsoft: Windows 8 on ARM to 'include' some Office 15 apps

    Great information. Glad I didn't make any claims to Microsoft Windows 8 being DOA. Whatever way Microsoft decides to include Office 15 is going to be a winner. As long as the users can open their documents that is all they care about be it a native app or web based. You can be sure whatever they release for Office 15 will be Metro'ish as that's the way they want to go with their products.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • surely that means that here's no point in writing anything other than...

      @Loverock Davidson-

      ..web apps and therefore the Metro app store is DOA (even if 8 isn't)
      rmac_z
      • RE: Microsoft: Windows 8 on ARM to 'include' some Office 15 apps

        @rmac_z the same could be said of the iPhone and the iPad yet new apps roll out every day. There are varying degrees of integration for a start that won't work as well from the web (if at all).
        MurphHJS
    • RE: Microsoft: Windows 8 on ARM to 'include' some Office 15 apps

      @Loverock Davidson- Sounds a mess. Office is "non-Metro" (and for a lot of users the question becomes; What's Metro for?). Only Office (and parts of the OS) can use Desktop on ARM (This is just weird, so I can't develop on ARM then, I have to use Windows on x86_64)

      Why is this restriction in place? what about developers wanting to create applications that add functionality to Office? Seems their applications are 'trapped' in Metro, while the Office applications are in Desktop (weren't we calling that Legacy?)

      Now I'm not about to claim Windows 8 is DOA, I don't believe that. But Why would anyone buy Windows 8 ARM? Seems "real Windows" will be Windows 8 x86_64. That I can develop on. That I can run applications on Desktop. I still get Metro (if that proves useful). What's the advantage (to me) of Windows 8 ARM?

      Seems very odd indeed. Apple's split OS strategy seems much more consistent. You have a Tablet OS and a "Mouse/Keyboard OS" and "never the twain".

      Microsoft have Windows 8 "full fat" (x86_64) - runs Desktop, and Metro. And Windows 8 "Lite" (ARM), puts Office into a "mouse mode" (so dreams of running Office with just your fingers can be forgotten) but then doesn't let you use that for anything else.

      On the plus side, the new Office 15 does look to have a nice clean interface, everything seems pretty fast, and there is likely to be no shortage on great x86_64 hardware. What is interesting is the names on those ARM devices, not exactly the industry's "heavy hitters" are they?

      I think if you're thinking of getting a Windows 8 system, the Yoga looks like the way to go (assuming the price isn't out of the question).
      jeremychappell
      • RE: Microsoft: Windows 8 on ARM to 'include' some Office 15 apps

        @jeremychappell <br>"But Why would anyone buy Windows 8 ARM?" <br><br>Portability and battery life. I don't need the "full PC experience" but I do need Word, Powerpoint and Excel. A tablet without those three is a consumer consumption device, to me. I want something which has great battery life, is entirely portable, and still runs the Office Suite so I can use it for work without being dependent on remote desktop. <br><br>Sure it would be "nice to have" legacy applications, but I "must have" the Office Suite. Without the Office Suite what additional gain would a MS based tablet have? None. But with the Office Suite it has an edge, something to differentiate it from the rest.<br><br>If they allowed legacy products in, MS would run the risk of poor battery life with subsequent complaints "look the iPad gets 10 hours, why does MS on ARM only get five?" <br><br>Sure there will be complaints that legacy apps do not run, but out of the two evils, it seems MS has selected the lack of x86 legacy apps. <br><br>Witness the OQO, a highly portable "full PC experience in a pocket" that failed, mostly due to poor battery life, and heat issues. <br><br>This puts the onus on migration on the software partners, who will have to judge the market demand and decide whether to go for it or not.
        gadgety
      • RE: Microsoft: Windows 8 on ARM to 'include' some Office 15 apps

        @gadgety But you can't actually USE Office very easily without a keyboard and mouse - so what's the point? Wouldn't an iPad do just as well? You can open Office files, and even edit them. I agree it isn't "full fidelity" but it works well without a keyboard and mouse. I can continue to use Office when with a suitable system (for me that's a desktop).

        I also think it's a hell of an assumption that OEMs won't be able to create quite credible tablets with x86 chips.

        What we have is something that's a "bit like an iPad" but doesn't have many applications. Sure it has a "Windows sticker" but if it can't run "legacy" Windows applications then what's that sticker actually mean?

        It seems to prove EXACTLY what people were beginning to suspect; if you want a multitouch tablet then Windows doesn't get you very far. Because with Metro, and a locked down "desktop" - this isn't really "Windows" as we understand it.
        jeremychappell
      • RE: Microsoft: Windows 8 on ARM to 'include' some Office 15 apps

        @jeremychappell They will have as they already do convertible Tablets. That is all someone needs. And a Convertabile tablet will give better battery life plus smaller/ lighter with keyboard and mouse support.
        Djblois