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Microsoft previews new version of Office

New Office to include more touchscreen compatibility, social and cloud features

The new version of Office is intended to be highly flexible across platforms, says Ballmer.
The new version of Office is intended to be highly flexible across platforms, says Ballmer.

Microsoft has unveiled details of the upcoming new version of its Office productivity software.

The latest version of Office will include touch-screen controls for the first time, versions to run on RT, more cloud versions and social functions.

Speaking at a press conference to announce the availability of the customer preview of Office, available at, www.office.com/preview, Steve Ballmer said: "We are taking bold steps at Microsoft. The new, modern Office will deliver unparalleled productivity and flexibility for both consumers and business customers. It is a cloud service and will fully light-up when paired with Windows 8."

The new Office will have touch-screen input compatibility for applications including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook to make it more compatible with devices such as tablets an touch screen AIOs. Office will include stylus compatibility as well, for ‘Inking', to take notes and other handwriting tasks with a stylus. Microsoft Lync and OneNote have been redesigned into a Windows 8 style, to make them predominantly touch-activated.

For ARM-based Windows 8 platforms, including Microsoft Surface tablet, Office Home and Student 2013 RT will include RT compatible versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote applications.

Office also includes more social functions, such as Yammer for a secure, private business-based social network, which can be integrated with SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics; People Cards to show contact's details and information across Office applications and to show activity feeds from Facebook and LinkedIn accounts; and more features for SharePoint. Office also comes with Skype integrated, and 60 minutes of Skype world minutes every month.

Office will also feature greater integration with cloud services; such as saving documents to SkyDrive so they can be access anywhere, roaming profiles across all devices; Office on Demand and new subscription services.