Office 15: What's Microsoft's new mystery application?

Office 15: What's Microsoft's new mystery application?

Summary: There are reports that a new early build of Microsoft's Office 15 have escaped the Redmond halls. More interesting than the mere existence of these pre-alpha build, however, is another mention of a new application that will become part of Microsoft's next-generation Office suite.

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There are reports that a new early build of Microsoft's Office 15 have escaped the Redmond halls. More interesting than the mere existence of these pre-alpha build, however, is another mention of a new application that will become part of Microsoft's next-generation Office suite.

Despite the fact Microsoft only began shipping Office 14 (a k a, Office 2010) a couple of months ago, an August 20 Softpedia report (via the Russian website Wzor) claims there's a new Office 15 build floating around.

Softpedia's report also includes something near and dear to this Microsoft watcher's heart: a new codename. "Microsoft Limestone Integration Application" (also known as "Microsoft Lime") is a new application development element that will be part of Office 15, according to information that allegedly is part of the newly leaked build. (Update: One of my contacts says Lime is just a user-interface utility for Office, and probably not considered a new application in and of itself. Update 2: Microsoft blogger Rafael Rivera agrees and shares a bit more on Lime/Limestone....Nonetheless, it still sounds like there is a new Office 15 app coming. Read on....)

Stephen Chapman noted on his Microsoft Kitchen site, back in early June this year, that there were indications Microsoft was planning to add a new application to its coming Office suite. Chapman connected the dots and discovered a mention of "a major new feature" coming to Office 15 via a LinkedIn profile of a former Microsoft intern. That intern worked on the Excel team.

That's not a whole lot to go on, but it's got me thinking Limestone/Lime the new mystery Office 15 application could involve integrating Excel with another technology. Could it be some kind of business-intelligence-related app? Something to do with charting/data visualization? Hmmm.

Robert McLaws, a Microsoft consultant and former Windows blogger, offered a possible (and convincing, in my opinion) guess as to what the new mystery feature might be: "I’d say that the new app is most likely the extension of the co-authoring features of Office Web Apps into a shared desktop runtime. Think about it… why were Groove’s best features missing from the last release? Likely because they were being re-architected into an Azure-based next-gen real-time collaboration platform."  (McLaws emphasized this is just his own speculation and not based on anything from Microsoft about its Office 15 plans.)

One last point: According to Softpedia/Wzor, Office 15 is planned for delivery in early 2014. I'm skeptical of that date; I'd say 2012 or 2013 is more likely, given the Office team's typcial two- to three-year development/release schedule (and that group's tendency to under-promise/over-deliver so as to ship "early," rather than late).

Microsoft, unsurprisingly, isn't commenting on anything related to Office 15. "Wave 15 is currently under development, but we have nothing further to share at this time," a spokesperson said on August 20.

Any guesses of your own as to what kind of new app Microsoft might add to Office 15?

Topics: Collaboration, Microsoft, Software

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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  • Tight Integration with Business Intelligence

    My initial thought evolved around tight integration with SQL Server Reporting Services as well.
    samsonjr2
    • RE: Office 15: What's Microsoft's new mystery application?

      @samsonjr2 Looks like pretty standard development stuff to me. I should know, I'm a programmer.


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    • RE: Office 15: What's Microsoft's new mystery application?

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  • MS was very keen to add COM interoperability

    out of the browser with Silverlight 4. I wonder if it's something that allows (Office for) Windows Phone 7 to connect to the Office desktop (via Azure)
    rmac_z
  • Its in the Office Tools group

    Which means its probably not a big deal.
    Mr. Dee
  • Microsoft Lime

    Hi, Mary. Microsoft Lime isn't new to Office 15. It was in early Office 14 builds as well:<br><a href="http://a.imageshack.us/img251/4402/1247514962or93012.jpg" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://a.imageshack.us/img251/4402/1247514962or93012.jpg" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://a.imageshack.us/img251/4402/1247514962or93012.jpg</a></a><br><br>Back to time I was testing it in Office 14, it looked for me just like an stub with all the Office UI controls included (it disappeared from Office 14 around the beta). So it seems to be just a part of Office development process, nothing more.
    Raiker
    • RE: Office 15: What's Microsoft's new mystery application?

      @Raiker Looks like pretty standard development stuff to me. I should know, I'm a programmer.
      huskydreams
  • Interesting...

    Once I buy myself a new tablet next year with Windows 7, a SIM card slot, and hopefully and AMD Ontario-based CPU-/GPU-in-a-chip, I might put in Office 15 CTP or beta as soon as it becomes available to the public; thus, saving me money from buying Office 14. :)

    That is, if I could get a 10" tablet with a webcam and 64GB SSD or 128GB SSD for less than US$1,000. But scp would suffice since I could just copy my Office 15 files to and from my Ubuntu server whenever I need them, which is great over wireless 3G with T-Mobile WebConnect (scp uses SSH to copy files to/from Linux, as it's like SSH and cp (for copying files locally when not using SSH) combined. I use Cygwin for Windows.
    Grayson Peddie
    • I agree

      @Grayson Peddie,

      If MS came out with touch UIs for at least Word, Excel, OneNote, and Outlook, with super slick, and highly effective integrated virtual keyboards, that would be mind blowing! I think that would be like lighting a rocket under PC touch computing.
      P. Douglas
      • RE: Office 15: What's Microsoft's new mystery application?

        <p>Yeah, I hope so. Heh heh.<br><br>Windows 7 does come with a built-in virtual keyboard. However, you might want to read this thread about virtual keyboard and Windows' built-in magnifier.</p><p><a href="http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/microsoft-windows-7-forum/34430-windows-7-multi-touch-magnifier.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/microsoft-windows-7-forum/34430-windows-7-multi-touch-magnifier.html</a></p><p>I really hope I can make a feature suggestion to Microsoft for Windows 8 but I really wish I could afford a TechNet/MSDN subscriber so I can help test Windows 8. Along with the improvements for Windows 8 magnifier and on-screen keyboard, I'm hoping to suggest Microsoft to implement a feature that makes a magnifier follow the mouse cursor (not by moving the mouse to the edge of the screen to move the magnified screen, but by following the mouse cursor except when it gets to the edge. It's kind of like ZoomText Magnifier, but without the expense of buying a license for it. I know this will hurt Ai Squared's and any other companies' revenues who took a lot of time to make their magnifying software to work with Windows, but it's good for consumers.</p><p>Of course, I'm getting too far off-topic, but it'd be nice for Microsoft Office 15 to communicate with the Windows Magnifier and perhaps the Narrator, although Windows Narrator does not speak that much compared to screen readers costing >$500. Perhaps a support for multi-touchable gestures would be nice.</p>
        Grayson Peddie
      • RE: Office 15: What's Microsoft's new mystery application?

        @P. Douglas I can use Office 2007 on my HP TouchSmart tm2 using touch and using my finger to write in word (excel was better with the stylus though) but everything works by touch on a 12.1" screen.
        bvonr@...
      • RE: Office 15: What's Microsoft's new mystery application?

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  • how about something that makes vba code useable to your average person?

    that would be nice. i'm sure it isn't that but just saying. giving power users who aren't coders the ability to customize office would be awesome.
    hansonjb
    • RE: Office 15: What's Microsoft's new mystery application?

      @hansonjb
      I do not think that the average user needs anymore power beyond the standard Macro function. VBA is way to powerful for the average user with out the proper education on the subject. I can see it now, everyone having run away processes hung in memory.
      mcfant
      • RE: Office 15: What's Microsoft's new mystery application?

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  • It's Office '95

    with ever more bloat and a higher price tag.
    GoPower
    • RE: Office 15: What's Microsoft's new mystery application?

      @GoPower - Don't assume that others don't need features you don't use. Office 2010 is a fantastic suite.
      Rahul Mulchandani
    • RE: Office 15: What's Microsoft's new mystery application?

      @GoPower

      Bloat? What do you mean by bloat? It runs faster than Open Office. Oh...feature bloat? Yea, please no more features 8-|.
      bmonsterman