Microsoft details Office for Windows RT restrictions

September 14, 2012 | 12:12

Tags: #tablet #windows #windows-rt

Companies: #microsoft

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.
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