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

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?
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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.

Editorial standards