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Microsoft details Office for Windows RT restrictions

Microsoft details Office for Windows RT restrictions

Microsoft's Office Home & Student 2013 RT will miss the launch of Windows RT tablets, appearing in preview form only until an update is released between November and January.

Microsoft has released additional details about Office for Windows RT, formerly known as Office 15, the productivity suite that will come bundled with all ARM-powered Windows RT tablets - and the news isn't all good.

In a post on the Office Next blog, Microsoft's David Brodsky, partner test manager, and Josh Pollock, principal development manager, explain some of the changes made to Office in order to get it running on the cut-down tablet devices - and, as you might expect, it's largely a list of features that haven't made their way across from the desktop.

Office for Windows RT will lack, the company has explained: support for macros, add-ins and other features that rely on ActiveX controls or third-party code, including Flash support; support for legacy media formats in PowerPoint; support for equations constructed in Equation Editor 3.0; selected email features which rely on a full-fat version of Outlook; Excel Data Models, although pivot tables, query tables and pivot charts will operate as normal; recording narrations in PowerPoint; searching embedded audio and video files, recording audio or video notes, and importing from an attached scanner in OneNote.

While that's an impressive list, most features are extraneous to the central functionality of Office for Windows RT. The ones most likely to cause heartache - the lack of recording in PowerPoint and OneNote, and the missing Data Model functionality in PowerPoint - can be worked around by using the desktop version, meaning Windows RT tablets won't quite be a desktop replacement for all.

Beneficial changes made to Office for Windows RT, just in case you worried this article was going to be entirely negative, include: a touch-enabled interface; tweaks to the software that mean Office for Windows RT draws less power from the battery than its desktop equivalent; automatically-clearing caches that don't suck up the limited memory on tablet devices; automatic deletion of unused language packs, which can be re-installed through Windows Update if they are required in the future; and support for monitoring mobile data usage on Windows RT devices with mobile broadband.

As expected, Office for Windows RT won't be a retail product; instead, it will be bundled with all Windows RT tablets as standard. At launch, however, the software will be limited to what Microsoft describes as including 'preview editions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.' These preview editions will be significantly more limited than the final release, which will be made available through Windows Update as a free upgrade.

A formal launch schedule for the full-fat version, which is to be called Office Home & Student 2013 RT, has yet to be announced, with Microsoft planning a rolling update schedule for various languages and markets between November and January. A more formal schedule is due to appear on the 26th of October, to coincide with the launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT itself.

12 Comments

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blacko 14th September 2012, 13:20 Quote
no point in buying an RT version now if your a business user. Nice one MS.
Paradigm Shifter 14th September 2012, 13:53 Quote
That's a great big long list of negatives and a list of positives that are barely positives.
SlowMotionSuicide 14th September 2012, 14:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by blacko
no point in buying an RT version now if your a business user. Nice one MS.

Honestly, what were you expecting? Of course they were going to make some compromises since it needs to run on glorified smartphone cpu. Business users should primarily be interested in the x86 tablet, anyway.
fdbh96 14th September 2012, 18:24 Quote
I never even realised those features were there in the standard version :). It still looks like its going to be better than the Pages app on ios already.
XXAOSICXX 14th September 2012, 21:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowMotionSuicide
Quote:
Originally Posted by blacko
no point in buying an RT version now if your a business user. Nice one MS.

Honestly, what were you expecting? Of course they were going to make some compromises since it needs to run on glorified smartphone cpu. Business users should primarily be interested in the x86 tablet, anyway.

Exactly. +1
Alecto 15th September 2012, 14:15 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowMotionSuicide
Quote:
Originally Posted by blacko
no point in buying an RT version now if your a business user. Nice one MS.

Honestly, what were you expecting? Of course they were going to make some compromises since it needs to run on glorified smartphone cpu. Business users should primarily be interested in the x86 tablet, anyway.

"Glorified smartphone CPUs" are rapidly gaining (if not overtaking) multicore Atom CPUs or anything we had on desktop in Pentium4 era.

IMHO we're going to see non-x86 based PCs in all form factors encroaching on x86 PC market share in the upcoming years. I beliebe one IT analyst's prediction was that 15% of the market woudl be occupied by ARM and alikes by 2015, which seems pretty conservative considering the advances in ARM world and the significant price difference (ARM based PC motherboard with a 1.7+ GHz quad core CPU, GPU, WiFI, SATA, RAM, ethernet and other connectivity should be doable for ~$70, considering the price of VIA's ARM board).

Once businesses realize they can make savings by switching over (and get rid of x86 specific problems such as heaps of malware along with those savings as a free "bonus") M$ will have no alternative but to come up with a full office suite, without abovementioned limitations. They should be planning ahead though.
SlowMotionSuicide 16th September 2012, 11:49 Quote
You're somewhat missing the whole point with x86 platform here. I'll give you an example:

The company I work in has some 1500+ workstations, all chugging on happily on 32bit Windows XP. Why? Legacy software. We are running something like 30+ custom-tailored programs, many of them co-dependent on each other, which would NOT run on anything else. We would have a number of usage scenarios where tablet would work wonders, but the cost to switch to completely new system would be prohibitive. Even saving a couple of hundred EUR per device isn't much of an incentive. I'm pretty sure this goes with quite a few other company as well.
rollo 16th September 2012, 13:31 Quote
Agree slow, we looked into this ourselfs a while back, way to much legacy software that requires x86 instruction set. From a pc gamer perspective do I see a day when I have an arm CPU to play the latest fps game have my douts.

Cost per tablet for either rt or x86 version will still be higher than an iPad which we recently give all our sales team. Windows 7 was a massive expense to most companies, once windows 8 is out it will take businesses at least a year to upgrade to it, only then does an x86 or rt tablet become financially viable.
Alecto 16th September 2012, 14:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowMotionSuicide
You're somewhat missing the whole point with x86 platform here. I'll give you an example:

The company I work in has some 1500+ workstations, all chugging on happily on 32bit Windows XP. Why? Legacy software. We are running something like 30+ custom-tailored programs, many of them co-dependent on each other, which would NOT run on anything else. We would have a number of usage scenarios where tablet would work wonders, but the cost to switch to completely new system would be prohibitive. Even saving a couple of hundred EUR per device isn't much of an incentive. I'm pretty sure this goes with quite a few other company as well.

Just because some companies are stuck with obsolete software that cannot be recompiled for new target it doesn't mean the entire IT branch is just going to grind to a screeching halt with regards to advances. It didn't happen when mainframes were replaced by minis, when minis got replaced by x86 based PCs and
isn't going to happen when x86 PCs get replaced by something smaller, more power efficient and cheaper.

Sure, there are still companies running software that is decades old (so they splurge big bucks for IBM Z iron), yes there are companies running ancient VMS apps (recompiled from VAX to Alpha and eventually to Itanic) but has the advancement of technology stopped because of that ? Of course not. These dinosaurs will keep running their old apps as long as the cost of switching over to new stuff is higher than the cost of maintaining the old equipment.

This cost is bound to increase very soon (new hardware coming out without Windows XP support, Windows XP end of life from M$ etc.), so some day the time will come to move along. By that time ARM (or perhaps some other architecture ?) will gain enough foothold in the industry to be seriously considered as a choice.

When I first saw abovementioned forecast (must have been few years ago) I was extremely sceptical about it. When a local electronic components distributor mentioned that Intel will be aiming at the mobile (phone, tablet) market with x86 chips I was even more surprised ... but today we have x86-based phones, ARM pretty much everywhere, inexpensive PC-format boards coming out with non-x86 CPUs etc.

You shouldn't be focused solely on the next thing to come when trying to anticipate the future, you should look further ahead, just like those big companies do. M$ didn't come up with WinRT in the last couple of months; they dedicated a couple of years to its development, and in a couple more years they should be able to refine it further to meet the market demands. If non-x86 hardware becomes easily avaliable I'm absolutely certain they'll come up with full versions of their applications.

Current choice of ARM hardware might seem crappy but that's only because there isn't much competition taking place yet. When somebody figures out they can use CPUs that are faster than 1 GHz Freescale chips VIA is using (say 1.5-1.7 GHz quad core Krait from Qualcomm), competition will start and when that happens manufacturers are going to have to differentiate their products by features (expansion options, more performance, more hardware, better support, better utilization of hardware) and price (price wars for the win !) and when that happens we'll be right where x86 PC industry is today - you get a nice selection of hardware in all price categories, you can mix and match various standardized components and you have multiple operating systems that all provide same APIs, enabling software pool to grow without having to adapt every applciation to a specific piece of hardware.

http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2193828/via-announces-1ghz-arm-cortex-a8-picoitx-board

This is a start, now imagine where the market can get us by 2015 - there are companies out there that are known to be able to manufacture motherboards cheaper, that have access to suppliers for large quantity orders, that know how to win consumers by introducing differentiating features. They will be in this market as soon as they smell a profit ... and with cheaper CPUs, less expensive cooling and power supplies and no fees to pay to Intel they are bound to jump on this boat sooner or later.
Nexxo 16th September 2012, 14:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by blacko
no point in buying an RT version now if your a business user. Nice one MS.

I disagree. Most office types do not use more than the most basic Office functions. Nobody I know uses Form Fill, macro's, Compare and Merge Versions or any kind of master formatting, just to stick with Word. Most people don't know how to use more than the basic Excel functions, unless they are in accountancy. Access? Don't get me started.

For most middle management types, the basic Office functions in RT are enough to do some casual work on the Pendolino to London. If they want to do complex power stuff, they will sit down at the desk where they have all the resources at hand and time to concentrate.

Moreover, RT is just a compromise to tide over until mobile CPUs become more powerful. And keep in mind that the iPad was considered woefully limited, but now there is some seriously productive software for it.
SlowMotionSuicide 16th September 2012, 14:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alecto
This is a start, now imagine where the market can get us by 2015 - there are companies out there that are known to be able to manufacture motherboards cheaper, that have access to suppliers for large quantity orders, that know how to win consumers by introducing differentiating features. They will be in this market as soon as they smell a profit ... and with cheaper CPUs, less expensive cooling and power supplies and no fees to pay to Intel they are bound to jump on this boat sooner or later.

Just to clear this up, I'm not refuting your whole point of view, far from it, I'm just saying the jump might take a while longer. You can't sway the people holding the purse strings just with "better tech", especially when the current one still works.
rollo 16th September 2012, 17:15 Quote
main reason companies dont upgrade is cost, It may cost a company say £1mil a year to maintain support for windows xp for a example ( Costs alot more than this ) Cost to upgrade to something like windows 7 for an example is massive.

1/ Fully updated new software ( purchase prices for 1000 + copys of microsoft office dont start cheap )
2/ Making sure the Current hardware can even support the software ( most company pcs are old and cheap and rarely have seen an upgrade in the last 10 years, none of them have an ssd ect, and most are single core pentiums on 512mb of ram ) ( yes the tech side has upgraded there hardware long time ago but business warehouse pcs for example have probably not been as lucky. )
3/ Recoding older hardware to be compatible with new technology takes time.

When we went to windows 7 across the board the time and effort + Cost was bigger than anticipated and we went over budget ( 2500 total pcs laptops ) and we are not even that big of a firm. The convincing it took for the purse string dude to allow this to happen took years of meetings.

quick question if your not paying fees to intel, your gonna be paying fees to somebody else ( ARM or AMD or IBM ) intel chips are pretty cheap.
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