Rumor: Microsoft's Modern UI Office apps due in "late spring/summer" 2014

The wait for Microsoft to launch its popular Office applications specifically for touch-based devices like those that use the Modern UI in Windows 8.1 or Apple's iPad could end in the late spring or summer time period of 2014. That's the new time table that ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley is reporting today, via her unnamed sources at Microsoft.

Her latest report says that Microsoft Office team has had to make the Word, Excel and PowerPoint Modern UI apps almost from scratch, with features such as a revamped ribbon model and a way to save documents to the cloud as the default. During Microsoft's BUILD 2013 conference, the company very briefly showed off what was called "a preview of an alpha" of a Modern UI-based PowerPoint program.

As we have reported before, the rumored code name for the touch-based Office applications program is "Gemini". Today's new report claims that the touch-themed Office apps are being referred to internally by Microsoft as WinRT apps, and their design will be the core behind not just the Modern UI versions but the ones that are being made for iOS and Android platforms as well. Indeed, the report points out that a version of Office for the iPad has been rumored since November 2011.

Today's report also says that the familiar desktop versions of Office will still be developed and released "for the foreseeable future", and other Office related programs like Publisher and Visio will continue on too. One application that may not be continued is InfoPath, according to the article.

Source: ZDNet

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If Microsoft does this (along with a dedicated Modern file manager), then I can't see ANY reason why they'd need to keep the desktop in Windows RT. At that point, just disable it and make it a complete mobile-oriented OS. That would help distinguish Windows RT from Windows 8.

Perhaps they could just disable the desktop and make it accessible for technicians who need to access it in case something is wrong with the OS, in which they'd need access to things like CMD, Registry Editor, Event Viewer, etc.

Microsoft cannot afford to mess this one up with Office. The Modern UI is very polarizing among computer users. People either love or hate it. If Office becomes less useable as a result of the Modern UI makeover, Microsoft will be raked over hot coals by the press and likely see even more loss of revenue as a result. The Windows 8 reception was lukewarm at best, and if they screw up Office, then the company will have a hard time digging out from this.

They should keep working on the desktop version as usual, but offer the Modern UI version as well.

For example: If you use Windows 8 with a mouse and keyboard, then use the desktop version of Office, but if you have a touchscreen laptop or a tablet, then you could either use the desktop or the Modern UI version.

Let's wait and see. But my problem with these could be that you will end up with having two versions of every Office app on your machine and sometimes you need to switch between them just for one single task or input.

I would have wished that they gave the desktop programs a "metro-like" touch mode, that can be enabled or disabled on the fly.

DConnell said,
I can't wait. I hate having to drop into "Virtual 7" mode to use Word. I'd rather stay in Metro.

Oh you lie. No one likes the Modern UI, it's garish and horrible with keyboard and mouse and doesn't belong on anything over the size of a phone, and barely even there.


/S

What is so Modern about it compared to desktop Office 2013? I think MS lost me there. I can't see myself doing anything in Word on 10.1" screen. I bought 2x27" LCD Monitors just for things like that. What am i gonna do with it on 2x27" with no touch support? Again, i don't want touch LCD monitor. Who is Microsoft targeting, what group of people, what market?

It should have been available LAST YEAR with the Surface release. This whole non-sense is a very interesting view inside a company that is / was facing internal wars between groups.

At least, it is finally coming.

TheCyberKnight said,
.... was facing internal wars between groups.

At least, it is finally coming.


Not a war if you refuse to fight, blame Sinofsky.
Now with the One Microsoft, things will fall in line, as you said, finally.

InfamousTones said,
I wonder if us Office 2013 customers will get the metro applications for free...

haha, ohh you've not been following Microsoft's grasp of the concept of keeping customers happy when it comes to cross platform buying in their ecosystem have you?

nope.jpg

InfamousTones said,
I wonder if us Office 2013 customers will get the metro applications for free...

Office 365 customers will.

Outlook is not mentioned among the revamped apps, guess it will be the last to be updated as usual. I wonder if OneNote MX will be modified to look as these new apps or not.

This will be a key piece in legitimizing the Modern UI for enterprise and causing W8+ tablets to see a large sales increase.

Translation: the tech media will MURDER this.

Darth Tigris said,
This will be a key piece in legitimizing the Modern UI for enterprise and causing W8+ tablets to see a large sales increase.

Translation: the tech media will MURDER this.

But... to legitimise the use of modern UI, it's going to have to provide something that's at least on par with what we already have on the desktop, and be just as productive at the same time. Otherwise, we'll just be in the same situation as people trying to move to open source alternatives, such as open office where key features are missing, or it's simply not productive enough for use in the work space.

Time IS money in the workspace, businesses won't upgrade if they're having to faff around doing stupid **** just to do what they could have done by keeping that old xp machine running.

Very interested to see the ribbon redesign more than anything else. They didn't bother with it at all in metro OneNote, so I'm a little surprised to read that they're evolving it rather than doing something totally different altogether.

Joshie said,
Very interested to see the ribbon redesign more than anything else. They didn't bother with it at all in metro OneNote, so I'm a little surprised to read that they're evolving it rather than doing something totally different altogether.

I don't see a issue with doing the ribbon in the modern UI of an app. You'll just have a drop down bar at the top when you do a right click as well as the app bar at the bottom etc. OneNote not having it in it's version could change if/when it gets updated to add more features from the desktop version back in. They've kept it more basic so far, it seems to me anyways.

GP007 said,

I don't see a issue with doing the ribbon in the modern UI of an app. You'll just have a drop down bar at the top when you do a right click as well as the app bar at the bottom etc. OneNote not having it in it's version could change if/when it gets updated to add more features from the desktop version back in. They've kept it more basic so far, it seems to me anyways.


Indeed, I am very curious to see this "new ribbon" although I am a big fan of the "radial" paradigm.

It makes sense for them to keep the desktop clients going until the time comes where most people are using a combination of Office 365 with the newer metro versions and so on. At some point in the future the only way to get the desktop apps will probably be through Office 365 I bet.

This is a massive turning point for Modern UI. I think these will very much set the tone for how productivity applications on modern day platforms should be built.

Should be built? It appears as if the author does not spend a lot of time on a keyboard creating/editing massive amounts of content, i.e., long Word documents, large Excel workbooks, Access databases, etc.

That'll be a first. Don't mean to troll but its kinda true that the current Metro apps can't hold a shade to comparable tablets apps in many cases let alone full desktop programs.

The "Modern" UX is not, cannot and should not compete with a the full desktop.
It is not what it is designed for.

Meanwhile, it can do much more than the current crop of available apps.

TheCyberKnight said,
The "Modern" UX is not, cannot and should not compete with a the full desktop.
It is not what it is designed for.

Meanwhile, it can do much more than the current crop of available apps.

It might not compete as far as multi-windowed app management goes but the UX for apps is able to give you all the options you could want in the app. Lots of apps could be made from their desktop counterparts to modern/metro versions and the UI is more than able to accommodate them. You've got the app bar at the bottom which can store a number of the more common used options, you can have right click menus (modern IE does this if you right click on a link or image for example. You can have a drop down top menu and then you can toss options/settings in the common charms menu to the right.

So as far as the UI goes, you can have a app that's packed with features/options and the UI has you covered as far as where to put them all. So while the desktop is the place to go for anything multi-window related and so on I don't see any reason why modern apps and their UIs can't match on a individual app vs app basis as long as the winrt APIs can grow and find parity with win32 down the road.

Heck, MS could just cave into future user pressure and allow a version of Windows, be it a Pro or Enterprise version, to run modern apps in a window next to legacy win32 apps in a future "desktop" that's more of a "workspace" for those who want more than just snapped apps.

We'll see how it goes though.

TheCyberKnight said,
The "Modern" UX is not, cannot and should not compete with a the full desktop.
It is not what it is designed for.

What? If you hadn't noticed, Microsoft is slowly deprecating the desktop in favor of the Metro UI. Why do you think its added into Windows 8? Of course, it's what it was designed for.

GP007 said,
......

I liked the concept of the settings charm until I realized that Modern doesn't observe the concept of 'window focus'.

The modern app with the greatest on-screen prominance has the charm. Other than that, you're bang on in citing a consistent approach to app presentation.

Can't wait to see how the Office team handles this!

Dot Matrix said,

What? If you hadn't noticed, Microsoft is slowly deprecating the desktop in favor of the Metro UI. Why do you think its added into Windows 8? Of course, it's what it was designed for.

Awesome. Microsoft has reached the point in UI where it can't advance anymore, so it starts regressing.

deadonthefloor said,

I liked the concept of the settings charm until I realized that Modern doesn't observe the concept of 'window focus'.

The modern app with the greatest on-screen prominance has the charm. Other than that, you're bang on in citing a consistent approach to app presentation.

Can't wait to see how the Office team handles this!

Not so in 8.1. There is an indicator for which app has focus. It's on the divider bar -- a vertical line next to the three dots.