Screenshots of touch-friendly Office for Windows revealed

Touch-friendly Word for Windows 8.1

Microsoft showed a brief glimpse of its upcoming touch-friendly Office apps for Windows at Build 2014 last month, but now it appears a better glance at the apps has leaked online.

In a presentation from Microsoft Research, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Lync and Office tools for Windows 8.1 can be seen with interfaces somewhat different from what Microsoft showed at Build. The presentation, uploaded May 14, shows the way a stylus can be used within the apps. It's not known when the presentation was actually made, meaning the interface could have changed since it was made.

The "Gemini concept version of Word," the codename for Microsoft's touch-friendly Office suite for Windows, is first shown at the 20:50 mark of the video, followed by the other apps. Screenshots of the apps can be seen in the gallery below.

Microsoft's timing for releasing the video is notable, as its upcoming Surface mini tablet, which will be revealed on Tuesday, will make heavy use of stylus input, the topic of the research video. While Neowin hasn't heard that Microsoft will announce the touch-friendly version of Office at the Surface event, the tablet may have been designed with the apps in mind.

Source: Microsoft Research via Paul Thurrott's Supersite for Windows | Images via Microsoft Research

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The layout of the Excel main menu looks very similar to the recent update for Windows Store UI. So I guess that's how the apps will look like.

I'm still not sure what to think about another software suite for Office. We now have the web apps and the desktop apps with touch support so do we need a third kind of apps?

I would have preferred to see them improving the touch mode so much that the desktop apps feel and act like metro apps but are still the "real" programs under the hood with all functionality. So you can switch between both modes while working on a document. Now if you need that one single feature that isn't part of the touch apps, you have to change the programs completely.

tiadimundo said,

I would have preferred to see them improving the touch mode so much that the desktop apps feel and act like metro apps but are still the "real" programs under the hood with all functionality. So you can switch between both modes while working on a document. Now if you need that one single feature that isn't part of the touch apps, you have to change the programs completely.

I agree with you, they could just replace the shells with windows and menus that have a touch/mouse toggle (like they do for Office) just to make it easier. As MS found out, the desktop is not going away anytime soon.

What they could do it bring in Modern Mix in W9 but also bring desktop apps into snap windows in Metro that way you can have your touch enabled wrappers around the legacy apps.

lexp said,
Can't wait "using" it on my touch-unfriendly 27'' widescreen./s

Which is why the desktop version still exists, it won't spontaneously stop working!!!!

Cosmocronos said,
Maybe a diluted version; Outlook is part of Office and users pay for it.

I would say it will replace it on certain devices as Office is free on Windows RT.

They are old, especially the PowerPoint, Excel is probably the most recent. Looking back at the preview of Modern PowerPoint at Build, you see the difference in refinement of the UI.

The iPad version is really nice. Blows Apple's productivity offerings out of the water (but also costs more). Looking forward to seeing this. I'm starting to really want a windows tablet at work.

For very early versions of the apps, these look very nice. Obviously they will need to be polished with the proper fonts (e.g. Outlook) and consistent layouts... but they have lots of time for that before it gets released. Excited... and even more excited to see this on my WP8.1 since they are universal apps :D

Going by the Excel screenshot mainly, did they dispense with more than 70% of the functionality? There's almost nothing there from what used to be a hugely complex app...

Remember these are just alpha screenshots and it won't get released until Fall... a lot of things are missing still. I'll assume when launched, it'll be on par to Excel Online which is very feature-rich and almost on par with Excel 2013.

Wall-swe said,
Hope, they bring Cortana, and word flow in the same update! To all windows devices!

I expect a good deal of feature overlap between WP and Windows going forward but I don't know if we'll get everything at the same time. They'll probably wait to nail Cortana down good on the phone first before they try to move it on to Windows and finally Xbox One.

The Word Flow KB and the Action Center should show up first though, I expect those in Windows 9.

I'm sure it will come eventually given that WP and WinRT will be merged into one by the time Windows 9 comes out.

Ha..Ha.. after 3D fad, we have touch fad. I don't see any sane person really spending time typing things with touch rather than more productive keyboard and mouse.

Auditor said,
Ha..Ha.. after 3D fad, we have touch fad. I don't see any sane person really spending time typing things with touch rather than more productive keyboard and mouse.

Because these apps don't support mouse and keyboard inputs.... oh wait.

Auditor said,
Ha..Ha.. after 3D fad, we have touch fad. I don't see any sane person really spending time typing things with touch rather than more productive keyboard and mouse.

Still singing that tired song and dance? Have you forgotten that keyboards can easily be attached to Windows 8.1 devices? Where in the above screenshots do you see the OSK?

Auditor said,
Ha..Ha.. after 3D fad, we have touch fad. I don't see any sane person really spending time typing things with touch rather than more productive keyboard and mouse.

Brain, it's a good thing to have.

Auditor said,
Ha..Ha.. after 3D fad, we have touch fad.

Hrm, maybe you haven't heard, but touch devices have become extremely popular. Don't want a touch interface, use the desktop version of Office. Neat, eh?

Auditor said,
yeah.. who ever has sane idea is a troll fanboys. lol

Yea but the "sane idea" completely glosses over that this is for touch oriented setups, never mind touch is hardly a fad when there's millions of touch devices in use now. (Android and iOS are fads?) For those who don't want a touch setup.. there's the regular version of Office. It still works you know.

Don't have to be a fanboy to use your noggin.

Max Norris said,

Yea but the "sane idea" completely glosses over that this is for touch oriented setups, never mind touch is hardly a fad when there's millions of touch devices in use now. (Android and iOS are fads?) For those who don't want a touch setup.. there's the regular version of Office. It still works you know.

Don't have to be a fanboy to use your noggin.

No sane person is going to use full office suite or excel advance functionality on touch 8-10 inch small touch screen. For quick editing here and there is fine on touch and for that it is not required to have full functionality. No matter what MS makes you believe, but no one with functioning brain cell are going to use their phone for real productive work. If you believe otherwise then whatever this product is really for you then.

Auditor said,
No sane person is going to use full office suite or excel advance functionality on touch 8-10 inch small touch screen.

Ah, your way or everybody's insane or stupid, gotcha. Classic definition of troll.. never mind you're delusional if you think you're speaking for everyone. Just the sheer number of Office for iOS downloads alone show you how completely wrong you are. But go ahead, throw more names if it helps you sleep better lol. I get it being short sighted and all, for those who prefer the traditional setup, there's the regular desktop version, nothing's changed there. Not sure why this is so hard to comprehend.

Auditor said,

No sane person is going to use full office suite or excel advance functionality on touch 8-10 inch small touch screen. For quick editing here and there is fine on touch and for that it is not required to have full functionality. No matter what MS makes you believe, but no one with functioning brain cell are going to use their phone for real productive work. If you believe otherwise then whatever this product is really for you then.

Think again. I use Office *every day* on my tablet for work, and not just for "quick editing." I know many more who are now tied to Office on their iPads... So I'd do a little more research before you decide to post again. Also, what are you yelling at here? Tablets or smartphones, because they are two different devices.

You're so blinded by your hatred of touch that you ignore the fact that tablets can easily have a keyboard attached to them for typing.

Dot Matrix said,

Think again. I use Office *every day* on my tablet for work, and not just for "quick editing." I know many more who are now tied to Office on their iPads... So I'd do a little more research before you decide to post again. Also, what are you yelling at here? Tablets or smartphones, because they are two different devices.

You're so blinded by your hatred of touch that you ignore the fact that tablets can easily have a keyboard attached to them for typing.

Hell, even Office Mobile is great for quick edits. There's been plenty of times where I read over a document that I wrote on my Surface and find something that's quickly edited on my mobile phone. It's about convenience.

What about on larger-screen touch AIOs (such as HP's TouchSmart series)? The TouchSmart 310 is one of the earliest of them (it originally shipped with Windows 7 - not 8), yet Office 2013 is quite usable on it - via either touch OR keyboard+mouse. (I posted a mini-review of it in the Windows forum.) Nothing says that you have to use it one way OR the other - it is entirely user's option. (You can even mix your modes depending on your mood - try THAT with a single-mode PC.) What future versions of Office will inevitably do is bring greater - not lesser - support for touch - and especially as technologies of touch-screen themselves improves. (No technology stands still - ever - as much as we may wish otherwise.) And why would it necessarily stomp on keyboard support? (It certainly didn't with Windows 8 - the original, prior to ANY updates.) What the critics of Windows 8 screamed about is that pointing devices weren't the primary method of interaction with Windows any more. (No pucky, Bucky - I pointed out THAT tidbit with the Consumer Preview. Yet me and my traditional non-touch-supporting desktop PC handled things just fine.) As far as Cortana goes, I actually DO expect Cortana to come to Windows at some point (in fact, likely as the "missing half" of the existing voice-command functionality that is in Windows 8.1 today).

Or even that you can use keyboards with Android and iOS (as millions of users do every day)? It has been pointed out (in both the Android and iOS fora here on Neowin) that many MANY users have keyboards that they use with Android - in fact, I have posted doing so in BOTH fora. Even in the "touch-primary" worlds of Android and iOS, there are still places for both keyboards and pointing devices. (That's right - pointing devices, and mice in particular, in iOS. Far from impossible, or even improbable, as even iOS supports them - as long as they connect via BT - and some do,)

Maybe it'll be able to interpret the red ink as corrections. Or maybe in a school setting, students can upload their papers and teachers can mark up with red ink so kids learn from their mistakes and correct them themselves.

Bonfire said,
Why would you mark red "ink" all over a digital document instead of just making the corrections right away?

Because it's in alpha and they were probably just testing various features.

Bonfire said,
Why would you mark red "ink" all over a digital document instead of just making the corrections right away?

Document collaboration? Mark the paper as you would normally, then upload it back to the original author.

Bonfire said,
Why would you mark red "ink" all over a digital document instead of just making the corrections right away?

This came out from a MSR video talking specifically about inking abilities/features.

Sorry for the crappy image layout, guys -- our writing system was being wonky. I just added them in a gallery at the bottom instead of having them in the article.

Dot Matrix said,
Though, why does it look like each application has it's own UI? Where's the unification here?
Because the UI is still in its alpha phase. It's best to experiment with multiple designs and then standardize on one (as was done in the past during Longhorn/Vista development).

The PowerPoint one has my vote.

Also - they may be different 'reader' modes. For example in PowerPoint 2013 if you go in presenter mode, the screen goes dark as well. It might just be a certain reading/presenting mode.

Looks interesting, can't wait to see how it turns out. The 20th May Surface event would be a good time to show this off in action IMO.

Dot Matrix said,
Looks nice. I can't wait to upgrade to this on my machines.

I wonder if this is the free Offline versions of Office Online before you buy a license or upgrade to office 365 or have a Surface. They look more limited then the ones shown at Build and in the PowerPoint screenshot there is a download button in the top right, indicating it is working with the OneDrive version?

The slides included say it is a UX proposal.

Edited by ians18, May 17 2014, 5:11pm :

Dot Matrix said,
Looks nice. I can't wait to upgrade to this on my machines.

As long as the blinding WHITE and ALL CAPS Goes away I am happy. I paid extra for 2010 because of it and ms forcing 2013 on 365 angered me.

I do wonder if this is the mobile screenshots for IOS and Android as I see things missing? Since my office is only the card version it means it is tied to my old phenom II. I am waiting for a new office before I upgrade

Check your facts. You can easily purchase Office 2013 as a perpetual license. No one has "forced" anything on you. Heck, use another office suite if you're so bitter. ;)

Dot Matrix said,
Looks nice. I can't wait to upgrade to this on my machines.

Doesn't seem to be final, UI differs too much from app to app, with no unified header and controls.

sinetheo said,

As long as the blinding WHITE and ALL CAPS Goes away I am happy. I paid extra for 2010 because of it and ms forcing 2013 on 365 angered me.

You are aware that the white was only one of three themes in 2013, right?

TCLN Ryster said,

You are aware that the white was only one of three themes in 2013, right?


Its too bad the other two themes were still very light (color wise) and provide poor contrast in the UI.

COKid said,
Check your facts. You can easily purchase Office 2013 as a perpetual license. No one has "forced" anything on you. Heck, use another office suite if you're so bitter. ;)

Yes you can but:
The upgrade Edition does not exist anymore
The TOS was changed; now you cannot install it both on a desktop and a laptop
The price of the Suite has increased.

Basically nowadays Office 365 is " an offer you cannot refuse".