Microsoft is on a roll with product announcements this week. So far, we've heard about Windows 10, the huge Surface Hub TV/tablet and the groundbreaking HoloLens. Now, Microsoft is releasing details on one of its biggest properties.
Yep, it's the new version of Microsoft Office, the gold standard of productivity software the world over. Microsoft is making big changes in its other departments, so is Office getting a minor upgrade or a complete overhaul?
It's actually a bit of both. After the fiasco that was Windows 8, it seems Microsoft is done with the "one-size-fits-all" mentality.
To that effect, it's releasing Office in two versions targeted at different audiences. Don't worry, they'll still be compatible with each other and past Office versions, but how you use them will be different.
The new Office option is called "Office universal apps." These are apps designed for touch screens and will work on any gadget that runs Windows 10, whether that's a smartphone, tablet, touch screen laptop or the giant Surface Hub.
The free Office apps for Android and iOS already paved the way for this, and the universal apps will be included free on smaller gadgets running Windows 10.
The universal apps are meant for touch control. They'll have the features and general interface of modern Office programs, but they'll have special modes for smaller screens and added touch gestures to make using them easier.
Microsoft says, "You won't even miss your keyboard and mouse." Somehow I doubt that, but I'm sure they'll be fine for getting work done on the spot.
For the mouse-and-keyboard user, Microsoft is releasing Office 2016 in the second half of the year. This is the direct upgrade to Office 2013 and, while details are light, I expect it will be the same general layout and features with a bit of polish here and there.
Naturally, every version of Office is going to connect to the cloud, namely Microsoft's OneDrive, so you can easily sync your files between your gadgets and collaborate with co-workers.