Microsoft previews its new touch-focused Office apps for Windows devices

Microsoft previews its new touch-focused Office apps for Windows devices

Microsoft today previewed a “work in progress” version of its new Office apps, designed for touchscreen devices. The presentation centered on a new version of Powerpoint, which Kirk Koenigsbauer, CVP for Microsoft Office, said was “early user experience” code.

Taking inspiration from the existing Office apps built on Win32, he showed a preview of the “backstage” area where users can open recent documents, files stored in OneDrive, or create new projects based on a template.

While the overall design looked similar to the current Powerpoint app for Windows 8, it’s clearly been tweaked for touch input. Headers and tool icons are slightly larger at the top of the screen, and because it’s a universal Windows app, documents will open “flawlessly” on any device.

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The app has been built from the ground up on DirectX, improving speed and response rates, and features tweaked versions of common editing tools. All Office documents will be stored in the cloud too, which, among other improvements, will allow users to press “undo” an unlimited number of times.

Koenigsbauer also showed off a few touch-based gestures, including pinch-to-zoom and hand drawn annotations, termed “inking”, which is accessed from a hidden toolbar at the top of the screen.

Most of the presentation was delivered on a Windows tablet, but the same Powerpoint app was also briefly shown running on a smartphone. The user interface and user experience looked almost identical – albeit refined for a smaller screen – with impressive full editing capabilities and file compatibility.

The universal app initiative which Microsoft unveiled today means this new version of Office will be available for all Windows-based hardware. The productivity suite has always been one of its most popular products and finally, there’s going to be a unified version built specifically for touchscreen devices.

Image Credit: JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images

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