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Microsoft Office Leaps Into a New Era with Touch First Apps & New Desktop Suite

Tina Sieber 05-02-2015

Office has been the gold standard for office suites for a very long time. Microsoft is working hard to keep it that way as it’s expanding to new platforms and technology.


Last year, Microsoft released Office apps for Android and iOS Microsoft Launches Office For iPad & Office Mobile On Phones Now Free Office Mobile for Android sneaked into the headlines while the world was watching the arrival of Microsoft’s Office suite to iPad. So, let's give them each the space they deserve. Read More . This year, universal Office apps for Windows 10 Windows 10: The Dream Of A Cross-Device Operating System Is Becoming Reality & It's Free Microsoft is boldly stepping into the future with innovative software and hardware. Windows as a service and mobility of experience were the major keywords from the recent Windows 10 briefing. Most importantly, Windows 10 will... Read More will follow. Moreover, the official release of a new desktop suite, Office 2016, is expected in the second half of 2015.

Here’s a brief summary of what’s been going on with Microsoft Office and what else you can look forward to.

Free Mobile Universal Office Touch Apps

During their Windows 10 media briefing Windows 10: The Dream Of A Cross-Device Operating System Is Becoming Reality & It's Free Microsoft is boldly stepping into the future with innovative software and hardware. Windows as a service and mobility of experience were the major keywords from the recent Windows 10 briefing. Most importantly, Windows 10 will... Read More on January 21st, Microsoft announced that touch optimized universal Office apps will come pre-installed for free with Windows 10 on small tablets and phones. For other devices, the apps will be available via the Windows Store.

Currently, Windows Insiders are able to play with the touch-friendly Office universal apps on the Windows 10 Preview. Universal Office apps support real-time collaboration Team Working: 10 Tips For Effective Real-Time Online Collaboration Read More ; you can add collaborators to a document using their email address. A new Bing powered feature, Insights for Office, integrates online resources such as images, web references, and definitions in Read mode. Taking a cue from Office Online, the apps have the new Tell me feature that we’ll also see in Office 2016 (see below). Finally, users can send feedback via a smiley face.

Below are the Office universal apps for Windows 10 screenshots Microsoft released as a teaser, as well as a demo video by Office Mechanics.


Word for Windows 10

When you first launch the Word app, you’re taken through a small tour that introduces you to basic features, including tap and drag to move pictures or how to switch to Read mode. The app looks remarkably like the desktop version of Word and works much  like it.

Word Windows 10

Excel for Windows 10

Excel is probably the last Office tool you’d expect to be touch friendly. Microsoft promises you won’t miss your keyboard or mouse when managing Excel data Visualize Your Data & Make Your Spreadsheets User Friendly With An Excel Dashboard Sometimes, a simple spreadsheet format isn't engaging enough to make your data accessible. A dashboard allows you to present your most important data in an easy-to-digest format. Read More with touch-first controls.

Much like the Word app, Excel launches you into a short tutorial, explaining how to add and move columns. On the surface it resembles the desktop app, but the functionality is limited. The Excel Universal app doesn’t support Pivot Tables How to Create a Pivot Table for Data Analysis in Microsoft Excel The pivot table is one of the single most powerful tools in Microsoft Excel. Learn how to use the pivot table for data analysis. Read More for example.


Excel Windows 10

PowerPoint for Windows 10

Presenter View and Ink Tools support live presentations and real time annotation of your slides. You can also open notes with a single tap. Animations are supported, but you can’t create new ones inside the app.

PowerPoint Windows 10

Microsoft’s cloud-based PowerPoint alternative Sway Create Cloud Based Presentations With Microsoft's PowerPoint Destroyer Sway Microsoft Sway is a novel tool for building cloud based presentations. Sway offers a rapid design experience and a canvas for your ideas. Sways are quick to create and easy to share. Read More suddenly sounds much less interesting.


OneNote for Windows 10

OneNote has been a rising star 10 Unique Ways to Use Microsoft OneNote OneNote is one of Microsoft's most underrated apps. It's available on almost every platform and can do many tricks you wouldn't expect from a note keeping app. Read More  of the Office suite. The universal app comes with a ribbon interface and you’re able to share your notebooks with other users.

OneNote Windows 10

Outlook for Windows 10

The Outlook app looks much like the Windows 8.1 Mail app How To Set Up & Troubleshoot The Mail App In Windows 8 Windows 8 features a pretty slick Mail app. If you thought it only supported Microsoft accounts, such as Hotmail, Windows Live, or Outlook, you were wrong. The Windows 8 Mail app lets you add any... Read More . It will come with Microsoft Word editing features and new touch gestures. This Universal app will be made available shortly.

Outlook Windows 10


Microsoft Office on Android and iOS

Meanwhile, free mobile Office apps for Android and iOS have been tested and positively evalulated by millions of users. In our comparison of Microsoft Office for Android vs. Google Docs Microsoft Office For Android vs. Google Docs: Which Is Better? Read More we concluded that Office for Android clearly is the better choice. Consequently, the Android apps came out of their preview state in January.

Due to popular demand, Microsoft also released an Outlook app for Android and iOS.

New Microsoft Office Suite to be Released in 2015

Along with all the touch first mobile apps, Microsoft is also preparing to release a new desktop Office suite. Recently, early versions have been leaked from the limited preview program. Here is a brief look at the Office 16 Beta January build 16.0.3629.1008.

Office 365 ProPlus

The Office 16 preview build is a complete business suite, including Access, Database Compare, Excel, Lync, Office Upload Center, OneDrive for Business, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher, Spreadsheet Compare, Telemetry Dashboard, Telemetry Log, and Word. Interestingly, Office 16 installed into a folder called Microsoft Office 2013 and all the applications came with the 2013 suffix.

Office 16 with 2013 Suffix

Updated Interface

Office 2016 builds on the ribbon design of Office 2013. While the interface will be familiar, new features obviously require some not so subtle changes. Most notably, Lync was re-branded to Skype for Business.

Skype for Business

The design appears flatter and has generally been adapted to what we’ve already seen in the Windows 10 Preview Windows 10 In Pictures - A Guided Tour Of The Technical Preview The Windows 10 Technical Preview is now available to everyone. Some bugs aside, it does look promising. We'll guide you through the new Windows one screenshot at a time. Read More .

Word 16

New Features

Microsoft Office has never been more convenient to use than today.

With Office 16, Microsoft is bringing Tell Me, a feature first seen in Office Online Don't Pay for Microsoft Word! 4 Reasons to Use Office Online Instead Microsoft Office Online offers free web versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Here's why you should give it a try today. Read More , to the desktop. It’s a quick way to search for an option. Unlike a Help file, it doesn’t waste your time with lengthy explanations, but instead enables you to jump straight to the desired control or feature from the results.

Word 16

In Word, rotating images becomes more intuitive and several advanced features, including Pivot Tables in Excel How to Create a Pivot Table for Data Analysis in Microsoft Excel The pivot table is one of the single most powerful tools in Microsoft Excel. Learn how to use the pivot table for data analysis. Read More , have been updated with new functionality. Neowin recently provided an in-depth review of the advanced changes that came with the new build, as well as an Office 16 image gallery, featuring the new dark theme 10 Dark Windows Themes & Skins To Reduce Eye Strain Do you struggle with headaches or irritated eyes? You may be dealing with eye strain. Computer screens can be glaringly bright, especially in the dark. Dark themes could be your free remedy. Read More .

A New Office for a New Era

With its Office suite, Microsoft is building on decades of experience 20 Historical Microsoft Office Facts You Forgot Or Never Knew The Microsoft Office suite turned 25 this year. The world has changed since digital presentations, word processing, and spreadsheets became a thing. Do you remember how it all began? Read More . Yet they don’t get tired to innovate.

Do you think they’re doing enough? Does Microsoft Office still have an edge over its competition? Share with us what you think about the modern Office suite and which featuers you think are still missing.

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  1. Victor
    February 10, 2015 at 8:21 am

    I've been using OneNote every day for school and really, really love it! Super excited for the new universal app!

    • Tina Sieber
      February 10, 2015 at 9:00 am

      The OneNote app has actually been around for a while. But yeah, OneNote rocks.

  2. ReadandShare
    February 5, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    I am a bit confused with the various "Office" designations... The article says "Office for Win 10" -- but the video refers to Office 365.

    I have a bunch of spreadsheets which are encrypted. My understanding is that I cannot upload / open / use those with the web based Office 365, correct?

    I am hoping that the new touch-based Office will actually reside in our desktop/laptop/device hard drives that it will be able to open and save encrypted files -- just like current Office 2013?

    • Christian Cawley
      February 6, 2015 at 10:17 am

      Office 365 isn't web-based, although a web-based component exists. For instance, I have an Office 365 subscription, and never use the web-based version. My subscription allows me to use both the "live" version (which can be launched on any Windows 7 or later machine) of the Office suite, and the traditional, PC-run versions, which would previously have been available only via download purchase or on DVD.

      I suspect you have highlighted the problem Microsoft has with Office and Office 365 - the two things are so closely related that few people really know which is which...