Microsoft Office 15 is likely to be released late in 2012, or early 2013, with a public beta likely to show its face this summer. Its official name is likely to be determined by the year of release (let’s hope for Microsoft Office 2012 then!).
The current technical Preview beta version is private, and users have to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Bits and pieces have slipped out – even screenshots – suggesting very exciting changes indeed.
Paul Thurrott’s extensive screenshots and descriptions give you a thorough feel of the new developments – here are our top takeaways.
Look and Feel
The suggestion is that the Office 15 user experience will be a cleaner and more personal one.
As expected, Windows 8 design and concepts run through Office 15. Leaked versions run on the traditional desktop with a heavy influence from the new Windows Metro touch-screen style. A stepping stone, presumably.
Love it or hate it, the ribbon (the one-touch UI of options, designed to avoid having to navigate through menus and toolbars) is still there – but hidden as default.
(Old version with ribbon)
(New version with hidden ribbon)
Integrated Design Options
Another first for Office version 15 is the introduction of a brand new tab for Design. This allows users to easily create and configure themes, borders, background colours and watermarks.
It’s likely that there will be extended video features for editing and broadcasting.
Microsoft Office 15 will automatically sign users into their Microsoft ID, including services such as Flickr, Windows Live Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger and SkyDrive. You can also set it to automatically connect to LinkedIn, SharePoint and Office 365.
When you select “Save As”, the top option will be to save the document to SkyDrive, followed by normal computer locations.
Tablet users will benefit from the new full-screen mode which allows more viewing space beyond the part of your screen that contains the keyboard.
There’s also a specific ‘touch mode’ that increases the size of some buttons to make them easier to navigate by touch.
Microsoft Office 2012 will use less memory and processing resources – which will certainly make it more accessible to tablet and notebook users.
The majority of leaked updates and screenshots are focused on most people’s first stop – Microsoft Word.
The specific changes to the features of individual applications are, for the most part, yet to be seen. We’ll have to wait for the public Beta to be released in the summer to find out more!
(Images of Microsoft Office version 15 from winsupersite.com.)