Microsoft Offers Office 2013 Consumer Preview For Desktop, Tablet Devices


Microsoft debuted a consumer preview release of Office 2013 Monday with CEO Steve Ballmer promising that the new version of the company's flagship application suite will work on tablets as well as it does on its traditional desktop PC platform.

Office 2013 also will provide more built-in social networking capabilities, such as through planned integration with the Yammer social network for businesses that Microsoft is in the process of acquiring for $1.2 billion and tighter integration with the Skype voice-over-IP service Microsoft bought last year for $8.4 billion.

Microsoft also plans to offer the new Office as an online subscription service.

{Related: Two Thumbs Up: Office 2013 Enhanced For Tablets, Thumb Control]

Office 2013, known until now as "Office 15," will now respond to touch-based controls, in addition to commands from a keyboard or mouse. That will broaden the range of devices the suite of applications will support. In a press event in San Francisco Monday, Ballmer said Office on tablet computers would be an "uncompromised experience" and not a limited version of Office on desktop PCs.

The new Office will save documents to SkyDrive, Microsoft's cloud data storage service, by default.

Microsoft did not disclose a target date for Office 2013's release -- but its name indicates it won't be generally available until after the first of the year.

Office Professional Plus 2013, the traditional desktop application set, includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Access, Publisher and Lync. Microsoft said Lync and OneNote represent the first Windows 8-style applications for Office.

Microsoft will also offer three new Office 365 subscription services that include the new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote and Publisher -- usable across up to as many as five PCs, Macs or mobile devices.

The services will include Office 365 Home Premium for families and consumers, Office 365 Small Business Premium for small businesses, and Office 365 ProPlus for Enterprise customers. The full lineup of Office editions and their price tags will be announced this fall, Microsoft said.

Earlier this year Microsoft announced that Windows RT, the version of Windows 8 being developed for ARM-based devices, would come bundled with a copy of Office.

Microsoft is in the midst of an unprecedented wave of new product releases and product updates. Earlier this year the company shipped System Center 2012, a new edition of its systems management suite, and the SQL Server 2012 database. Last week Microsoft announced availability dates for Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 later this fall.

PUBLISHED JULY 16, 2012