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

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.

TOPICS: ARM, Microsoft, Software

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.)


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


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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  • I guess this is good news...

    ...for anyone buying an RT tablet. As I understand it, they're getting the Preview Release at launch, so this quick turn around for the final version will be a good thing.

    I'm planning on picking up a Surface RT at launch just so I can keep promoting them for the holidays. I have several coworkers that will be looking for inexpensive solutions.
    • Inexpensive?

      Got any links (aside from rumors)?

      I agree that the sooner Microsoft upgrades the Preview to the final Office 2013 RT the better. But, seriously, the devices should be sold with final Office 2013 RT pre-installed. After approx. 2.5 years, why the rush?
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • Christmas

        Well, Christmas. That's the rush. Ship something in Jan-Feb and it falls flat.

        Besides any updates to Office would be delivered automatically, be it the final version or additional patches and updates. So there's no real point in waiting from a software point of view. A reason I can see for waiting would be that nobody has seriously tested the hardware yet, compared to more tried & tested offers by Google/Samsung. (And I suppose Apple for those who don't have an issue supporting their business practices.)
        Han CNX
  • I just wish...

    I just wish Microsoft would allow other vendors to offer desktop apps for RT. I really view Microsoft's vision of the tablet device as mostly a hybrid that can be used as a laptop when that makes most sense, or as a tablet when that makes most sense. Allowing 3rd party desktop apps for RT would extend that functionality in low power, long battery life ARM powered devices.
    • I agree, but I understand the MS POV.

      MS is trying to push apps to be developed in WinRT. This way they can be coded once and work everywhere regardless of CPU used. It also gets more focus on "Modern Apps" and the development for that type of experience. If they allowed desktop apps on RT, it would slow the adoption of the UX. Eventually when enough legacy apps are coded for WinRT, there won't be a need to buy the expensive x86 architecture. That's got to have Intel shaking in their boots to adapt.
      • With that in mind

        Office for Windows RT should be Metro, not desktop. MS does not even follow the principle they want developers to adopt.
        • There should be two versions during this period of transition

          I agree that MS needed to make a Metro version of all of the core Office apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, One Note) for WinRT. I think they just didn't have time to complete all of the versions since they clearly made One note and Powerpoint MX that seem to be functional. We'll have to see how these apps are updated/released, but IMHO they need to do this.
        • possibly, just possibly

          This is an indication that Metro/Windows Runtime API isn't yet a viable foundation for heavy-duty programs like Word or Excel. There's a Metro version of OneNote, and, given what it does, it's hard to see why there couldn't be a Metro version of PowerPoint.

          The cynic in me wonders whether MSFT's two great UI cornerstones, Ribbon and Metro, may be incompatible at some level.
        • Office Metro

          I'm sure MS is working on Office Metro. (Can be sure based on the OneNote app preview and the productivity UI it pioneers. But to have something that is as functional as the current MS Office is a monumental undertaking, on par with the new Win 8 OS itself. Offering Office on the desktop, which by the way also addresses the needs of so many people not wanting to relearn a new interface and just get their stuff done, is as sensible as it is essential.
          Han CNX
    • Not practical

      Let's be real, most developers would only dump their x86 programs with minimal recompilation and compatibility with the ARM plataform. And when those badly coded programs crash Windows or sap the battery life, it will be MS that gets the bad rep.

      Not worth it for MS, build a RT App instead!!!
      • there could be power usage requirements

        MSFT will control Windows RT more closely than Windows, so users would only be able to install software from MSFT sites. MSFT could impose ceilings on resource usage for 3rd party desktop software.

        Another angle, desktops mean files, so there's need for file management. Yes, WinRT also comes with a desktop version of Explorer, but many people prefer 2-pane file managers. Some choice would be good even if the choice were visually identical to Midnight Commander. IOW, looks shouldn't matter, only resource consumption should. The only down side to allowing users to choose ugly desktop apps (in MSFT's view) would be that they might sell better than Metro apps.
  • Microsoft to deliver final version of Office 2013 RT starting in early Nove

    Looking forward to typing up many documents when I get my Microsoft Surface.
    Loverock Davidson-
  • The RT glass looks half empty

    Available between early November through January 2013 is not terribly good news fur Surface sales, especially if they don't hit the "early" November release date with a stable, fast, and bug-free release (none of which seems likely with release 1.0). If it's not out by Thanksgiving, MS has essentially lost the Christmas sales window.

    Unless the RT mail app is very, very good, "Windows RT does not support Outlook or other desktop mail applications" is also bad news, given the number of Outlook users out there.
    • I don't think you have read up on the pursuits of Outlook

      Microsoft is pushing Outlook functions to the web. Hence
    • No Outlook in the RT Office?

      Wow, I just assumed Outlook would be included in the Office 2013 for RT. Well, this decides it, I won't be buying an RT tablet, even for experimentation, too much of my work depends on having a full local install of Outlook when offline. Another dreadful Microsoft mistake...
      • Outlook

        Outlook costs more than all 4 other applications combined. Considering it is a free version of Office, I don't mind it not coming with Outlook.
      • @YukioCowboy

        If you need full Outlook, you still have the option of upgrading to full Windows 8 or sticking with Windows 7.
        Shameer Mulji
    • Outlook

      Instead of porting Outlook, I'd be in favor of a radical improvement of the built-in Metro e-mail and calendaring applications. The current version looks more like Proof of Concept or demo-preview than anything else.
      Han CNX
  • Just curious

    Since the Windows RT version of Office 13 runs on the ARM architecture, I wonder how easy it would be for MS to port it to other ARM-based platforms such as the iPad.
    Shameer Mulji