Microsoft announces standalone Office 2016 for later this year

Microsoft announces standalone Office 2016 for later this year

In Microsoft’s eternal quest to make you more productive, the company played up its new suite of universal Office for Windows 10 apps during the event for its new operating system yesterday. But in a blog post detailing new features today, the company snuck in an announcement: Office 2016 is being released the second half of 2015.

Wait what? Yes, you read that right: there are two separate Office suites incoming.

The touch-optimized Office for Windows 10 is slated to be the future of the company as it seeks to create universal apps that can work on anything from 84-inch displays to phones.

Office 2016, on the other hand, will almost certainly be a version of Office more akin to what you already know and (maybe) love. In other words, just like past versions of Office, but with new features.

This might not come as much of a surprise if you’re a Windows 8 user; there already exist separate versions of some Office apps for Microsoft’s “modern” UI (AKA Metro). OneNote, for instance, comes pre-loaded on the Surface Pro 3 as a modern app with basic functionality, but OneNote 2013, included with Office 2013, is a much more powerful desktop app.

As you might expect, Microsoft says Office 2016 will be best suited to a PC with a keyboard and mouse, but having two separate suites seems to contradict the idea of Microsoft’s new one-app-fits-all approach.

Then again, Office for Windows 10 will almost certainly not be backwards compatible, so if you’re a Windows 7 or 8 user and you want a new Office suite, Office 2016 is likely the only option.

Still, with Microsoft continuously pushing touch-friendly universal apps, while also blending those more into the standard desktop interface, we’re curious to see how the company will differentiate the two suites.  Microsoft says it will have more on Office 2016 in the coming months.

➤  The next chapter of Office on Windows [Office Blogs]

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