Office 2013 For Windows RT Breaks Cover, Details Revealed

It was already known that Windows RT would come with its own version of Office 2013 bundled in and today Microsoft finally revealed the details of this new version of Office.

Microsoft details Office 2013 for Windows RT

Office 2013 For Windows RT Detailed By Microsoft

Widows RT is that version of Windows that runs on ARM processors. ARM processors are generally used in mobile devices and are the top chips in that category. However, since Windows was originally designed to run on x86, classic Windows applications would not run on Windows RT right out of the box. That is why Microsoft has had to make a new version of their flagship productivity suite Office especially for Windows RT.

The company revealed the existence of this new version months ago but the details were unknown up until today’s announcement. Microsoft wrote a detailed post on how the pre-bundled version of office on Windows RT will be different from the main Windows 8 version that came out some time back.

The original post was made on the official Office Next blog, were the company said the pre-bundled version will be called Office Home & Student 2013 RT. It will come with its own versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and even Microsoft’s note taking application OneNote. According to the blog, the biggest challenge faced by the development team was to keeping the battery consumption down to a minimum. Battery life is always at a premium on mobile devices and hence it is understandable why the developers would try to eke out every single minute possible out of a single full charge.

Office 2013 for Windows RT detailed by Microsoft

The way they did it was through several small changes that together contribute to a large battery saving. They gave the example of a blinking cursor. This feature has no native software or hardware support and is hence implemented through a timer, which consumes extra resources. To combat this, the cursor on this version of Office stops blinking after a few seconds when the user stop interacting with the app. When the user is perceived as away from the device, the cursor such remains static and does not blink at all.

This version of Office 2013 also focuses on another very important area – touch. Windows 8 itself is built to be ‘touch-first’ and Windows RT will see touch implementation far more often because it is designed to be on mobile devices like tablets. Which is why Office 2013 not had to be battery efficient but also touch-input friendly. And if you have used the existing Office, you will know that it is quite an uphill task to give applications like Excel and Word a clean, touch based interface without losing any of the complex functionalities. Thankfully, the Office here shares its core components with the main office and hence it won’t be much different in key functional areas.

Windows RT devices will often have support for cellular wireless networks, giving access to cellular data connections to the user. And this too has been considered when developing Office 2013 for Windows RT. When the device does have cellular data, the software will automatically detect whether the data usage is free or metered (paid for per unit or by fixed amount of transfer). If the usage is metered and user is approaching the transfer limits, then Office will automatically pull the breaks on network activities and minimize them in order to save bandwidth. Additionally Windows RT will give users the option to turn off their network activities entirely when it detects the user approaching the data usage cap or going into roaming.

As expected, Office 2013 on Windows RT will be missing a few features that are available on the full-fledged Windows 8 version. These omissions include macros, add-ins and all controls and features that are dependent on ActiveX controls or on third-party plugins. So if you are heavily dependent on third-party plugins, you might not want to get in to Windows RT just yet. Office 2013 for Windows RT will also not have support for playing older media formats inside of PowerPoint, in addition to other limitations.

The original post appears here — http://blogs.office.com/b/office-next/archive/2012/09/13/building-office-for-windows-rt.aspx

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