Microsoft is not only working on a new version of its Windows operating system, but also on Office 15, the next installment of the popular Office suite of programs. Back in January of 2012, the Office team reached an important development milestone, releasing a technical preview version of Office 15 to a select group of customers, and the promise that a public beta will be released in the summer of 2012. The final version of Office 15 is expected to be released in the beginning of 2013.
Office 15 will be available as a PC productivity suite, but also as Office 365 as a (paid) online service, with limited functionality as Office Web Apps on SkyDrive or SharePoint, on Windows 8 ARM systems natively, and as an Office server version.
Office 15 may not be the official name of the new Office version when it is released. If the past is anything to go by, the new Office suite will be named Office 2013 if released in that year, or Office 2012 if Microsoft manages to release the product this year.
Paul Thurott has posted some of his findings in regards to the new Office installment, and while some do not really sound that exciting, others could really improve things further.
Probably one of the biggest addition is pdf support in Word. This basically means that pdf documents can be loaded into Word to be read in the program. This feature should not be as controversial as the native Flash support for Microsoft's upcoming browser Internet Explorer 10. It is too early though to comment on the rendering quality and loading time of pdf documents in Microsoft Word.
Microsoft Office 15 will also support the Open Document Format ODF 1.2 standard that was approved back in October of 2011.
According to Paul, light changes are coming to other Office products as well. PowerPoint will for instance default to the 16:9 format with options to fall back to 4:3, and offer better multi-monitor support, while Outlook will come with a new Peeks feature to quickly view information without leaving the current view, better Hotmail email integration and integration of the Social Connector plugin for Outlook 2010.
Will it be enough to get Office 2010 users to upgrade to Office 15 when it comes out? Paul does not think so, as there are not enough changes to justify it just yet. Office 2003 or 2007 users on the other hand may benefit from the upgrade.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.