Touch-first Microsoft Office for Android to beat Windows 8 version to market

Touch-first Microsoft Office for Android to beat Windows 8 version to market

Summary: In another example of Microsoft's mobile-first strategy, the company is expected to make the Android tablet version of its core touch-first Office apps available months ahead of the Windows 8 variant.


When asked recently why Microsoft brought the iPad version of its core Office apps to market before it launched the Windows variant, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the reason was quite simple: Market share.


So it shouldn't surprise anyone -- though I have to admit, it did me -- that the Android tablet version of Microsoft's touch-first Office suite looks to be coming to market ahead of the Windows 8 version, according to contacts of mine who asked not to be named. The Metro-Style Windows version of the touch-first Word, Excel and PowerPoint bundle is now looking more like spring 2015 than fall 2014, which was its most recent rumored availability date, those same sources of mine added.

Microsoft, unsurprisingly, isn't commenting on these claims. But here's my guess as to the thinking here.

Office is the dominant productivity suite on Windows today. But Microsoft increasingly is focused on being a cross-platform software and services provider. This emphasis isn't new to the Nadella regime; it actually predates it by a number of months. But Nadella just last week made it plain (again) that the marching orders for Microsoft these days include not being bound to one app, one platform or one device.


For now, Office still is one of Microsoft's cash cows. To keep Office strong, Microsoft needs to do more than just continue to shove new features into Office for Windows (and, to a much lesser extent, Mac). The company needs to be where the users are. And in the mobile space, the majority of users are on iOS and Android.

At Build 2013, a year ago, Microsoft showed off an alpha version of its coming touch-first version of PowerPoint. Officials claimed at that time that Microsoft's plan always had been to deliver those touch-first apps (which I've been calling "Gemini," though internally, some Softies call them WinRT apps) in 2014. Just a couple months ago, I heard from one of my sources that these Windows Store apps still were on course to launch in the fall of 2014.

But now, it's sounding like the new priority is getting the promised Android versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint to market. Microsoft officials said in March 2014 that the timing for the Android version of these touch-first apps wasn't solid yet. I'm hearing, however, the plan is to make them available before the end of calendar 2014.

The other date in play here is when Microsoft plans to deliver the Metro-Style Gemini/WinRT versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint. My sources say the new plan is to make these commercially available in the spring of 2015. (I'm not clear if a preview/beta version of these Gemini apps will be out before year end.)

That spring 2015 date also is when Threshold, a ka "Windows 9" is expected to hit. The timing isn't likely coincidental, given Microsoft is believed to be building at least one Threshold SKU that won't include a desktop. Such a SKU would require a version of Windows that doesn't need the desktop/Win32 environment to run. That's when the Metro-Style/Windows Store versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint become a necessity, not just a nicety. 

There's one more thing to remember here. Microsoft's Office team also is believed to be updating the desktop versions of all the Office apps (minus InfoPath, which is on its way out). Those updated desktop versions are likely to hit in early 2015, as well, I've heard. (Mac users: I have no info right now on when the follow-on to Mac Office 2011 is coming. The Office for iPad team and the Mac Office team are now one.)

All I can say is the way the new Microsoft works is a lot different from the days of "first and best" on Windows....

Topics: Mobility, Android, Collaboration, Microsoft, Mobile OS, Tablets, Windows 8


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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  • Microsoft just took Windows 8 out back...

    ... And shot it.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • Nope not even close.

      They are simply prioritizing. W8 already can run office but Android can't.
      • Prototype

        Or they are letting Macs and Android be prototypes before it hits the big time on Windows. For those that fear change a touch Office will be a catastrophe. I will bet many writers have already done their drafts of articles based on the prototypes that complain about the new Office. This phased in introduction of the new Office takes away much of the shock and awe.
        • seems legit

          Office isn't done till Android won't run?

          a new variation on "windows isn't done till Lotus won't run"
        • I wonder if "Office for Metro" will behave like IE does ...

          ... and run in a touch-only mode under Metro and run in Desktop when you want it to - assuming your device has a Desktop Mode.
          M Wagner
    • took 'em long enough

      • How long before Android is secure?

        • Windows is 28 years old

          And is still no more secure than a Japanese paper house.
          Alan Smithie
          • Experts deem otherwise

            IT polls show that Windows server have nearly the same up-time as Linux servers. Slightly less due to the need to reboot Windows after patching (Linux has an advantage their)
            Experts (that know malware) consider Windows to have equivalent security to Linux.
            Linux servers are successfully attacked on a regular basis. See US-CERT.

            I think Linux is a great OS and it can be had for free but Windows has better overall integration and particularly has better support for electronic bench and monitoring equipment and automation.
          • You need better experts

            Maybe in a public or commercial setting, Windows Server OS is on average as secure as the typical Linux server, configured by sys admins who aren't Linux experts. But when security is hyper-critical, a correctly configured Linux server, taking full advantage of all security options (Mandatory Access Controls, grsecurity, etc.) is more secure than a Windows Server, more resistant to 0-day exploits, etc.

            That's not to say that Windows Server, properly secured, isn't secure enough for almost all situations, defense in depth and all. I have no issue with saying that it is.

            Of course, why should you believe me, i'm just some bloke on a forum. All I can say is, it's part of what I do for a living, every day.
          • A good firewall is most important

            in security whether you have Linux or Windows servers.
          • a firewall is nothing

            It is like a security guard allowing people thru with concealed weapons but stopping the obvious ones with ammo rounds drapped over the shoulder with full-auto weapon in each hand.
          • Wrong. A firewall is necessary ...

            ... but it is NOT sufficient. You also need well-trained end-users who won't fall for drive-by-spam and phishing scams.
            M Wagner
          • @Daboochmeister

            I would probably take that one step further, although overall I agree with your sentiment. I would say Server 2012 out of the box is more secure than most Linux server distros. Because Windows Server is used by people who generally aren't as skilled as Linux engineers the need for out of box security is greater. In fact, without a lot of the steps you outlined Linux, I'd trust a Windows system over Linux.

            However, if security is your chief concern over anything else then Linux or BSD are better choices as long as you get the proper experts to harden everything.
          • Windows OUT-OF-THE-BOX is definitely more secure than Linux ...

            ... out-of-the-box.

            With well-trained systems administrators, and a good tool box, UNIX/Linux can be made to be as secure as your needs require. But very few UNIX/Linux systems administrators have the skills to implement such arbitrarily tight security.

            I use the term UNIX/Linux because the required skillsets are the same - but, most likely, the most secure tools are commercial products.

            All that said, in the hands of a typical systems administrator, with typical security needs, a Windows Server will be the most secure.
            M Wagner
          • Well windows was more secure

            28 years ago because people using windows didn't need to connect to anything outside of their own machines. Now as the need more more access to things outside the PC creates the entry points by the attackers. The more access you have to the outside the more the outside has access to you.

            Also windows is the OS that runs on machines with hundreds of hardware vendors. Those vendors need their code to talk to Windows (drivers) thus holes are created. Apple creates their hardware and OS and has a tighter control on every piece of hardware and software needed to run their machines.
          • and that helped

            With the 600,000 macs that got infected by a botnet at the start of last year? Oh that's right - we don't discuss the pitiful security on most Apple products... Shhhhh...
          • In 1986, there were less then 10,000 hosts on the Internet ...

            ... and most were university and government-owned. Todays it is estimated than there are 1.2 billion Windows licenses representing 90% of the systems on the Internet. In 1986, no one outside of a Master's program in Computer science had ever heard of a computer virus or a worm, or any other malicious computer program.
            M Wagner
    • I have Windows 8.1 and Office 2013

      running on an ASUS T100TA. A Touch first office would be great, but at this point I can do everything I want to do. Guess I will just continue to work not understanding what I am missing.
      • Also it was free and no 365 subscription is required