Microsoft’s new Office 2016 will be launching this year

24 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Microsoft earnings coming Monday: Holiday sales, the cloud and freebies.

At the Windows 10 preview, it spoke about the lightweight versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote on tablets and phones running Windows 10.

Though news of the HoloLens dominated Microsoft headlines this week, Redmond also had information about Office: the next-gen Office 2016 will arrive in 2015. “We are hard at work on the next release of the Office desktop suite that will be called Office 2016. (Unexpected, I know!),” Microsoft wrote in a blog post. “We expect to make Office 2016 generally available in the second half of 2015.” The company had few other details to share about the new Office suite, but promised that it “will remain the comprehensive Office experience you’re long familiar with, best suited for a PC with keyboard and mouse, [as well as] compelling new experiences coming as part of this Office suite.” The arrival of Windows 10, for example, will include Office “universal apps” that work on a variety of display sizes (from Lumia phones to the 84-inch Surface Hub), particularly those with touch screens.First it was assigned to a series of table-top-sized touch screen computers, then to Microsoft’s own iPad competitor — and now it’s back on the big screen, with the Microsoft Surface Hub.

Microsoft has confirmed that both tablets running Windows RT (the long-failing Windows version specifically designed for tablets) will not be getting a full Windows 10 update.There had been some suggestion after the Wednesday launch, in which the tablet range was only given a limited exposure, that Windows 10 would not be rolling out on the Surface. Surface RT and Surface 2 users won’t be able to upgrade the devices to the latest version of Microsoft’s software, a company spokesperson told Mashable. Word, for example, allows users to review documents, collaborate in real time, and access additional online resources via the new Bing-powered Insights for Office feature. Microsoft, as usual, flooded the airwaves with ads (this year focused on selling its Surface Pro 3 tablet), and offered discounts and software bundles to get folks to buy an Xbox.

More information to come.” Windows RT is in the awkward position of being ‘Windows 8 without the Windows 7 bits’ and therefore devices that run on it would be subject to the biggest changes of all, with their whole purpose being fundamentally altered. Microsoft’s occasionally maligned Surface unit narrowly turned a profit in the three months ended in September (by a metric that excludes advertising and other costs). While it’s always been clear what the Windows 8 touchscreen machines can do, many people considered them impractical — dare I say ridiculous — for everyday use.

But with Surface Hub, which was unveiled during Microsoft’s Windows 10 consumer event on Wednesday, those humongous screens may finally have found a purpose: transforming group meetings. As if to tell its own story, the Surface 2, an RT stalwart, was out of stock at Microsoft at the time of writing with no indication whether it would ever return. One of our concerns with the new ‘Windows as a service’ concept outlined in Wednesday’s event, which promised “free upgrades for life”, was that Microsoft remains at the helm of what ‘for life’ actually means.

But Microsoft’s profit is expected to dip, to about $6 billion (71 cents a share, excluding one-time items), from $6.56 billion (78 cents a share) a year earlier. First of all, the 84-inch screen now boasts a 4K resolution — and, according to Microsoft, it is the world’s fastest and largest capacitive touch screen display. There’s a precedent for this sort of move: Back in 2012, when Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 8, it revealed that Windows Phone 7 and 7.5 devices would not get to upgrade. On the gaming front, Xbox division head Phil Spencer showed off a DVR function that will let gamers with Windows 10 record gameplay, including the previous 30 seconds.

But things really got interesting when Microsoft pulled its own “one more thing” move to show off the HoloLens, a hologram-based virtual reality offering intended to bring people “beyond screens, beyond pixels, and beyond today’s digital borders.” Pop on a set of HoloLens, and you can see and interact with items in front of you—from a screen displaying Netflix movies to a model needed for work. At nearly roughly seven feet wide (Microsoft isn’t offering the actual specs), the Surface hub can accommodate at least two people working on it simultaneously.

Customers are plugging into the company’s servers and picking up web-based copies of Office at a pace few would have expected a few years ago, helping Microsoft avoid the doldrums of some other business-focused tech giants. I spent a little time doodling with the pressure-sensitive pens on the built-in whiteboard app, and was impressed by how closely the digital line followed my fast moving nib. Company representatives reiterated the same point over and over during the initial Microsoft Surface Hub demonstration and in subsequent meetings: regular conference rooms are not easy to use. Microsoft hasn’t extended these offers to the business customers that account for the bulk of its profits, but look for a question or two from analysts on Monday about how close the company may be to giving away the farm in search of increased market share.

The demos I saw and the interactions I had with the screens were impressive, even if Microsoft did not let me touch the 84-inch version and instead paired me up with a 55-inch model. There’s even an End Session button on Surface Hub that captures everything from the meeting (no video and audio, though it may get enabled later), emails it to all participants (Surface Hub integrates Microsoft Exchange) and then resets the device so it’s ready for the next presentation.

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