Microsoft is prepping and testing two different versions of its next Office suite: Office for desktop and Universal Office apps. ‘Office for desktop’ refers to the next full version of Office for PC and Mac, while ‘Universal Office apps’ refers to a version for Windows 10 phones and tablets.

On Friday, the Redmond giant announced that it’s prepping to push its Universal Office apps to Windows 10 phones by the end of the month. It’ll be the first time that Windows phone users will have dedicated apps for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. These shiny new apps will be rolling out as a part of the new Windows 10 Tech Preview for phones and tablets later this month.

These new apps have a similar look and feel to its Android and iOS counterparts, though one significant change is that many of the commands and controls now lay at the bottom of the screen as they’ll be more suited to one-handed usage, said Microsoft.

Since they’re part of the “Universal” apps family, they’ll look and feel a lot like the universal apps Microsoft has previously released for Windows 10. And yes, they’ll require Windows 10, Microsoft executives confirmed.

These new apps from Microsoft will essentially replace Office Mobile, the first Office apps brought to the mobile platform. Though, they lacked editing options and had very limited content-creation capabilities. The Windows maker seems pretty confident of these new Office apps and claims it’ll change all of that.

According to Jared Spataro, Author at Office Blogs, “the phone is a “triage” device, with the ability to make last-minute changes without pulling out a notebook PC. The phone isn’t a place where a lot of detailed work is happening,” he said. “Instead, I would label it as a triage device…. this isn’t to say that people aren’t reading on it; they are. This isn’t to say that people aren’t making quick edits; they definitely are. But what we see is that phone is literally the go-to device for how people stay in touch with what’s going on, in terms of their editors, in terms of their team.”

These Office Universal apps will be more about on-the-go productivity and will not support advanced functionalities like macros and data analysis. “We anticipate these desktop apps from Office being around for a very long time,” Spataro said. “It’s not desktop vs. mobile.”

Microsoft had said earlier that these Office Universal apps will be bundled for free only on Windows 10 devices with screen sizes of 10.1 inches or below. Pricing has not yet been revealed for screen sizes of 10.2 inches or greater, though we can expect Microsoft to follow suite with what it did with Office for iOS and Android.

Why you should skip Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones right now

In addition, Microsoft has said that we can expect new versions of Office – PCs/Macs and ‘Universal’ apps to be available later this calendar year.


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