Office 15 will be here next year. And, what’s more, it’ll be getting the Windows 8 look. There will also possibly be a Windows 8 authoring tool as well as HTML add-ins too. So what are we expecting to see in Office 15?
What will Office 15 be called?
Microsoft’s PR team refers to “Wave 15” without giving any details (like “Wave 15 is currently under development, but we have nothing further to share at this time”). Several Microsoft job adverts and LinkedIn profiles for Microsoft employees use the name Office 15, and the Access team has referred to Access 15 – but Office 15 is unlikely to be the final name (Office 2010 had the Office 14 codename).
Although a discussion about SharePoint by what appears to be a Microsoft employee refers to Office 2013, the name is almost certainly going to be Office 2012. As usual, we’re expecting multiple Office 2012 versions from starter to home and small business versions as well as a full Office 2012 enterprise edition, with different combinations of apps.
When is the Office 2012 release date?
A job advert for Office Mobile testing in October 2010 referred to “Office 15 and Windows Phone 8 planning phase just getting under way”, rumours in March suggested the code had already reached Milestone 2 and what looks like a legitimate build leaked in May. The Office division takes two to three years to put out a new version and we saw the beta of Office 2010 in February 2010 followed by RTM in May.
Microsoft names products by the year after the financial year they come out in (so they don’t look out of date immediately), but Microsoft’s financial year ends in July – so anything that releases to manufacturing after July 2012 would have 2013 in the name. Office 2012 beta will probably show up early in the year again, with final code by the middle of 2012 and the actual Office 2012 release date would be before late summer.
Office 2012 features
“Office 15 is shaping up to be one of the most feature packed and exciting releases,” says a Microsoft job advert. There’s obviously noting official on the Office 2012 features at this stage but there are some hints, like Office president Kurt delBene saying at the Worldwide Partner Conference “We want to remain the leaders in productivity on the desktop. We need to push forward in new scenarios that we had not delivered before.”
CLEAN LOOK: The OneNote 15 interface is sparser and easier to navigate on a tablet
There’s going to be more video (both editing and using for meetings), more social network integration and maybe a whole new experience for meetings tying together the invitation you send in Outlook, the presentation you give in PowerPoint, the notes you take in OneNote and the Lync client you use for the online meeting.
Office 2012 interface
The Office 2012 interface is going to change from what we’ve seen in the leaked builds so far, but we’d bet anything you like that it’s not going to lose the Office ribbon. OneNote 15 already has a new look in the leaked build with a much cleaner interface that will work well on tablet PCs, and a quick thumbnail navigation to get to recent pages that also looks tablet friendly.
PowerPoint 15 doesn’t have any new themes, which reports from WPC mentioned, but it does preview themes straight from Office.com; it also has a new random transition option. A new M1 tab on the ribbon (probably a reference to new features in the Milestone 1 build) has a Data Grid tool that opens a redesigned version of the Chart picker with a new combo chart type. The same tab is in Word 15, along with an Extensions dropdown; there’s nothing on it but it’s where the new programming model we’ve been hearing about fits in.
CLOUD LINKS: No new transitions in the PowerPoint 15 leak but note how you can see themes directly from Office.com
Outlook shows the most interface differences, with a cleaner look that has more white space and resembles the Outlook Web App you get with Exchange and Office 365 – but again it keeps the ribbon. Instead of the vertical stack of buttons in the current interface there are Mail, Calendar and Contacts buttons at the bottom to switch to those views – and a menu with the familiar icons for Tasks, Folders and Shortcuts which lets you add them at the bottom as well.
METRO LOOK: More white space like Outlook Web App in Office 365, but the notifications and bottom buttons are very Windows 8
This has hints of the Metro style underlying the Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8 interfaces, especially with the notification icon for new messages and tasks. The M1 command here is for sorting subfolders alphabetically rather than keeping them in the hierarchy you created.
Office 2012 collaboration
The co-authoring features in Word and the Word Web App show up in small changes to the change tracking, making it easier to filter by who made changes or when changes were made. That’s part of what Word program manager Jonathan Bailor was promising when Office 2010 came out. ”
In Office 15, we’d love to take collaboration and communication to the next level. We’ve unlocked all of these new ways to work and a new set of expectations from users, and we’re like, “Put us back in the ring; we’re ready for round two.” Until coauthoring a document is as easy and ubiquitous as e-mail attachments, our job isn’t done.”
One hope is that Office 15 might deal with some long-standing issues in Office, thanks to an intern who worked on improving search features on Office.com and built a tool so the Office developers could look at what people are searching for and “leverage the data in Office ’15’ planning”.
Is there a new app in Office 2012?
Maybe but it isn’t Limestone; that’s the same internal testing tool we saw in Office 2010 builds. The leaked build includes a new program called Moorea (there isn’t a shortcut for it on the Start menu but you can run it anyway).
WINDOWS 8 LOOK: The new Moorea app lets you place images, text and links to Word documents on a tiled layout that’s very Metro
This lets you create layouts with images, text and links to Word documents, on a widescreen grid of tiles; it looks ideal for packaging up content into a Windows 8 tablet layout and we think it might be a tablet authoring tool – the files it saves are HTML…
Is Office 2012 based on HTML?