Microsoft is still saying very little publicly about Office 15. But officials did share some of the priorities that are affecting their thinking in the creation of the next version during a day-long "Future of Productivity" event for press and analysts on January 28.
"Office 15 is the next natural step in (our) investments" that Microsoft made with the Office 14/Office 2010 product family, said Microsoft Business Division President Kurt DelBene.
Among the specific investments that Microsoft plans to continue to hone, according to DelBene, are the "creation experiences," like video and image editing; the integration of social interactions on the consumer and business fronts; the incorporation of more features and functions specific to educational users; unified communications, including better interoperability with Windows Live Messenger; and new uses and experiences for SkyDrive.
There also are some things on the to-do list which may or may not make it into Office 15. Microsoft is planning, somewhere down the line, to add new/additional standalone apps to the Office suite, he said.
"We don't think we've covered all the bases," said DelBene."We're always looking for what new productivity experiences" customers want."
DelBene said that "new applications will join the Office family as a result." He noted that Microsoft doesn't "go searching for new applications," but creates them from user needs.
Rumors have percolated that Microsoft might add a new application to Office 15. I'd heard that a business intelligence/charting type app was on the short list.
After today, I'm wondering whether we could see some kind of "meeting" app might be on the short list.
DelBene said "We have a major investment around making meetings great." He noted that Microsoft has done work on every phase of meetings -- from Outlook invitations, to notetaking (with OneNote), to broadcasting (with some of the new features in PowerPoint 2010).
"I could see those pieced together over time," DelBene told attendees of the Future of Productivity event.
(He noted that Microsoft doesn't consider "meetings" just corporate meetings. The company also is looking at ways to make "consumer meetings," among friends, family members and small groups, easier to coordinate and attend/participate in.
Microsoft officials still aren't saying when the company hopes to deliver Office 15 (though word on the street is 2013) or when testers should expect a test build.
Anyone out there have any burning requests for a new Office application?