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Microsoft Office for iPad coming soon?
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psmith2.0
Mr. Farmiga
 
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2012-02-21, 10:09

Interesting story.

I assume it would be a big deal to many (businesses and education/students).

The story says there are no plans to do the same for Android. Microsoft opting to throw in with the side where the real action, money and growth is, I guess?

Assuming it works well, this could spur many sales. In fact, the timing is interesting...I can see someone from Microsoft appearing onstage at the iPad 3 event to unveil/demo this. And a section of the iPad 3 part of Apple's site touting this.

I would assume Microsoft built it at Retina Display settings, and that the crisp sharp text and PowerPoint and Excel elements would make for a nice demo to highlight the new iPad display.

A welcome change from the usual "sword and dragons" and nausea-inducing race gaming demos.
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addabox
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2012-02-21, 10:53

I wonder how functional MS would want to make an iPad Office, though?

It looks like pretty much the one and only selling point for Windows on ARM tablets is their ability to run Office. Everything else will be new Metro apps, with no backwards compatibility to older Windows desktop software. At one point there were high hopes for some kind of MS super tablet to rule them all-- able to seamlessly switch from finger to mouse mode while running full Windows "without compromise" across devices.

We now know that won't be happening, but at least you're going to get Office, which, for a lot of users, pretty much is Windows. But if I can get a well functioning Office on the iPad, even before WOA become available, it seems like Microsoft is relinquishing their one big competitive advantage in the arguably critical tablet space. Interesting.

Also interesting will be how they handle touch for Office. That's my big question for WOA Office as well-- apparently it won't be Metro per se, so I've been wondering if there will be this weird hybrid experience of fun and colorful Metro apps then suddenly you get dropped back into the bad old days of Windows tablets, where "touch enabled" doesn't mean much more than making targets a little bigger and swapping taps for mouse clicks. It's not easy, putting a lot of accumulated desktop functionality into an easy to use touch interface-- that's why Apple's iOS versions of iWork apps are less capable, so far. So if MS can make an Office with some reasonable percentage of desktop Office functionality and give it an iPad friendly interface, my hat's off to them.

That which doesn't kill you weakens you slightly and makes you less able to cope until you're completely incapacitated
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kieran
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2012-02-21, 10:56

I have been thinking about the iPad missing Office for a while. How could MS be so shortsighted in not doing this sooner?

Seems like an instant purchase for anyone who uses it for business.

Gruber linked to this piece the other day about Microsoft's biggest miss. With Office missing from the iPad and iOS, people have realized that they can get work done without Office.
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chucker
 
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2012-02-21, 11:35

Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post
It looks like pretty much the one and only selling point for Windows on ARM tablets is their ability to run Office. Everything else will be new Metro apps, with no backwards compatibility to older Windows desktop software. At one point there were high hopes for some kind of MS super tablet to rule them all-- able to seamlessly switch from finger to mouse mode while running full Windows "without compromise" across devices.

We now know that won't be happening,
This is only true on ARM. On x86, tablets can run other Windows apps just fine.
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addabox
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2012-02-21, 12:29

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker View Post
This is only true on ARM. On x86, tablets can run other Windows apps just fine.
Right, but at the moment x86 tablets mean (as far as I know, I realize Intel is promising great things) bigger, hotter and much worse battery life.

That also leaves open the question of how non-Metro apps behave in a touch environment. We've seen what Microsoft's idea of an Intel tablet running Windows has been, and it wasn't pretty. Will an Intel tablet running Windows 8 be that plus Metro? Because that sounds kind of awful.

That which doesn't kill you weakens you slightly and makes you less able to cope until you're completely incapacitated
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chucker
 
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2012-02-21, 13:00

Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post
Right, but at the moment x86 tablets mean (as far as I know, I realize Intel is promising great things) bigger, hotter and much worse battery life.
Oh, absolutely, though I wouldn't say the 700t is terrible. Yes, it gets warm, and yes, you only get laptop-like battery life, but this may be enough for its target audience — and that's for Windows 7; 8 will supposedly handle resources better yet.

(And I don't really find it big or heavy. It's 12.99mm and 860g, compared to 8.8mm/610g on the iPad 2, or 13mm/730g on the iPad 1. Yes, those obviously win, and I'm not going to make the case that it's an awesome all-around tablet, but it's not as terrible as one might think. I didn't find it annoyingly thick, clunky or heavy in testing. Now, the software, OTOH. The software really, really matters.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post
That also leaves open the question of how non-Metro apps behave in a touch environment.
Judging from Win8 DP: significantly better than in 7, but still terribly. (This is assuming, of course, that those apps aren't specifically adapted for tablet use; e.g., the app we're building is mainly intended for tablets, but doesn't use Metro, since Windows 8 isn't out yet.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post
We've seen what Microsoft's idea of an Intel tablet running Windows has been, and it wasn't pretty. Will an Intel tablet running Windows 8 be that plus Metro? Because that sounds kind of awful.
Windows 8, summarized in a word: compromise.
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addabox
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2012-02-21, 15:31

Does anyone have any idea what actual Metro apps look and act like?

I admit I'm not the target audience and maybe I haven't searched hard enough, but literally all I've ever seen of the big Metro revolution is big live widgets associated with feeds and media. Twitter, photos, music, weather, stocks, messaging, etc.

You know, like this:



So, is Metro explicitly about "consumption"? Because as I said when Microsoft first started showing this around, I'm having a hard time imagining how big panels translates into usable apps beyond things that involve lists or transport controls. MS isn't stupid, and I know there are recommended Metro practices, but I wonder why I've never seen an image of a productivity app. Is there such a thing?

Or am I misunderstanding? Is Metro intended as a navigational language, with individual applications doing their own thing?

That which doesn't kill you weakens you slightly and makes you less able to cope until you're completely incapacitated
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turbulentfurball
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2012-02-21, 15:37

I've spent some time playing with Windows Phone 7 and was rather impressed. I'd use it over android anyway, if I were to switch from iOS (which I won't). If Microsoft make Office for iOS anything like the interface in Windows Phone I might consider buying it. I guess it might also be used as a way to highlight the Metro interface to raise awareness of it as alternative to iOS and Android... Within one app of course - it wouldn't be the full OS experience.
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addabox
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2012-02-21, 15:41

Hmmm, and now MS is denying the story, according to the NYT. They say:

Quote:
The Daily story is based on inaccurate rumors and speculation. We have no further comment
So that's not an outright denial that they're doing something, just that whatever is being reported is inaccurate. My guess is that if and when Office for the iPad shows up, it will be well after Windows 8 is up and running, for the reasons I mentioned in my previous post.

That which doesn't kill you weakens you slightly and makes you less able to cope until you're completely incapacitated
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addabox
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2012-02-21, 15:43

Quote:
Originally Posted by turbulentfurball View Post
I've spent some time playing with Windows Phone 7 and was rather impressed. I'd use it over android anyway, if I were to switch from iOS (which I won't). If Microsoft make Office for iOS anything like the interface in Windows Phone I might consider buying it. I guess it might also be used as a way to highlight the Metro interface to raise awareness of it as alternative to iOS and Android... Within one app of course - it wouldn't be the full OS experience.
Right, but a phone by its very nature precludes the kind of deep functionality you need in a desktop replacement, which I have to assume Metro is supposed to be at some point? At least as serviceable as iOS? Using WP7 have you gotten any sense how, say, something like PowerPoint would work?

That which doesn't kill you weakens you slightly and makes you less able to cope until you're completely incapacitated
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chucker
 
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2012-02-21, 15:45

Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post
Does anyone have any idea what actual Metro apps look and act like?
Sure. You can see them live in the Windows Developer Preview (it's free, and you could test it with, say, VirtualBox, or a demo of VMware Fusion), or on a Windows Phone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post
I admit I'm not the target audience and maybe I haven't searched hard enough, but literally all I've ever seen of the big Metro revolution is big live widgets associated with feeds and media. Twitter, photos, music, weather, stocks, messaging, etc.

You know, like this:



So, is Metro explicitly about "consumption"?
Simplicity does not imply limitation. Yes, you're not going to see a Photoshop-type application in this UI, but you may very well one day see something that exceeds Photoshop in productivity through elegant use of new UI paradigms.

iOS's UI, compared to OS X's, is far simpler as well, and yet many find, contrary to what one might expect, that they're actually far more productive on it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post
Because as I said when Microsoft first started showing this around, I'm having a hard time imagining how big panels translates into usable apps beyond things that involve lists or transport controls. MS isn't stupid, and I know there are recommended Metro practices, but I wonder why I've never seen an image of a productivity app. Is there such a thing?
How do you define 'productivity app', though? To do so by today's standards would be as foolish as Microsoft's very own 2002 "XP Tablet PC Edition" attempt to remove keyboard and mouse and pretend that makes for a good tablet.

Robo may have a thing or two to say about this. The WP7 Office apps look very, very limited, judging from screenshots. And, you're right, based on the sample apps shipping with Windows Developer Preview, Microsoft hasn't given much guidance on what a more featureful app is supposed to look like. They've made it abundantly clear at Build, however, that this is their vision of the future.

Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post
Or am I misunderstanding? Is Metro intended as a navigational language, with individual applications doing their own thing?
No. It is indeed essentially WP7's UI, scaled up. If you have an hour or two to spare, consider playing with it.
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chucker
 
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2012-02-21, 15:48

Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post
Right, but a phone by its very nature precludes the kind of deep functionality you need in a desktop replacement,
That is the same kind of argument that used to be made before the iPad came out, though.

(Remember the discussions in here about how an on-screen keyboard wouldn't work? About how multitasking would matter a lot more? Etc. None of these things appear to matter to the tens of millions gobbling those devices up.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post
which I have to assume Metro is supposed to be at some point? At least as serviceable as iOS? Using WP7 have you gotten any sense how, say, something like PowerPoint would work?
It's not clear to me yet what trajectory they see for the traditional Desktop, but the bulk of the new APIs in Windows 8 is about Metro, with desktop stuff heavily deemphasized. The hybrid approach surely isn't something they want to retain in the long run.
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addabox
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2012-02-21, 16:45

I guess what I'm thinking about is that if (and it does seem this way to me) touch is the future, someone is going to have to be very, very smart about how to do the kind of fine grained stuff we take for granted in a big range of desktop apps.

Right now, the solution seems to be "limit functionality to the broader strokes", but that will have to change.

It looks to me like Apple is going to have the edge here, because they are developing iOS as an environment in its own right, whereas MS is trying to have it both ways. If Metro coexists with Windows 8 desktop stuff, and the desktop stuff can do a good job of handling the heavy lifting, there's little incentive to figure out how to Metro-fy, say, Photoshop.

Now of course you could say that Apple is doing the same thing, jut a little more bifurcated, since OS X soldiers on and anyone wanting to run Photoshop on an Apple device can certainly use a Mac. But because iOS is its own deal, the iPad is its own deal, and the more popular the iPad becomes the more incentive there is to make any and every app for the platform. An Intel tablet is always going to have old school fallback, and apparently an all Metro/ARM tablet will have Office in some form that doesn't actually make the big leap to full Metro-hood, so it looks like even MS is unwilling to do the hard work to figure out how make big apps finger friendly.

That which doesn't kill you weakens you slightly and makes you less able to cope until you're completely incapacitated
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chucker
 
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2012-02-21, 17:21

Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post
I guess what I'm thinking about is that if (and it does seem this way to me) touch is the future, someone is going to have to be very, very smart about how to do the kind of fine grained stuff we take for granted in a big range of desktop apps.
Sure — but think back 30 years. I wasn't quite alive just yet, but supposedly, GUIs were mocked as toys. And yet, today, nobody would suggest that GUIs can't be very powerful. The move to touch UIs like iOS and Metro is somewhat analogous.

The Mac originally had no proper multitasking (DAs aside), didn't have any command-line shell, didn't have networking, and so on. iOS is on a somewhat similar trajectory of slowly evolving more features. We have yet to see this happening in Metro, as Windows Phone 7 is very young, but presumably, there's more to come.

Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post
It looks to me like Apple is going to have the edge here, because they are developing iOS as an environment in its own right, whereas MS is trying to have it both ways. If Metro coexists with Windows 8 desktop stuff, and the desktop stuff can do a good job of handling the heavy lifting, there's little incentive to figure out how to Metro-fy, say, Photoshop.
I, too, am doubtful of Windows 8's success as a tablet platform. But as for desktop apps, Microsoft is doing less and less to drive APIs forward. The argument can be made that they've matured sufficiently, but as a professional Windows desktop programmer, I'd vehemently disagree (WinForms is a poor wrapper around Win32, WPF, while somewhat improved in 4.0, still feels largely dead on arrival, and Silverlight, too, doesn't appear to have any future; meanwhile, Apple keeps churning out one great Cocoa improvement after another). Somehow, Apple has not only figured out what appears to be a better delineation between the devices (desktop/laptop vs. tablet/smartphone rather than desktop/laptop/tablet vs. smartphone), but also at the same time found a path to, mostly, share what's best about the two (e.g., Core Video eventually coming to iOS; now, Notification Center coming to OS X) and keep what doesn't belong separate (though they have misstepped at times).
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addabox
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2012-02-21, 19:56

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker View Post
Sure — but think back 30 years. I wasn't quite alive just yet, but supposedly, GUIs were mocked as toys. And yet, today, nobody would suggest that GUIs can't be very powerful. The move to touch UIs like iOS and Metro is somewhat analogous.

The Mac originally had no proper multitasking (DAs aside), didn't have any command-line shell, didn't have networking, and so on. iOS is on a somewhat similar trajectory of slowly evolving more features. We have yet to see this happening in Metro, as Windows Phone 7 is very young, but presumably, there's more to come.
Right, and someone (Xerox and then Apple building on those concepts) was very, very smart to create the metaphors that allowed a reasonably intuitive GUI. The things the Mac lacked in the early days were really a matter of hardware and processing power, not that the mouse/menu interaction paradigm somehow mitigated against sophisticated tasks. In fact the GUI afforded opportunities to create software, along the lines of a Photoshop, that would have been nearly impossible (or so cumbersome to use as to be pointless) without it.

But the move to touch is a different kind of problem, I think, a problem of information density. It creates new opportunities for intimacy and fluidity in the user experience, but intimacy and fluidity don't engender a work flow that allows for rapid, fine adjustments to various parameters. Or tweaking things a pixel or a point. Touch is sort of clay to the mouse/menu's ruler and mechanical pencil. You can make great stuff with clay, but if you were planning on architecting a building you'll probably experience frustration.

However, I think we agree that there are solutions we haven't seen yet. There may be some fundamental metaphor for zooming in for fine control that when we see it we'll slap our heads and say "Of course!" (and if Apple gets there first everyone will call it obvious and get pissed if they try and patent it )

Quote:
I, too, am doubtful of Windows 8's success as a tablet platform. But as for desktop apps, Microsoft is doing less and less to drive APIs forward. The argument can be made that they've matured sufficiently, but as a professional Windows desktop programmer, I'd vehemently disagree (WinForms is a poor wrapper around Win32, WPF, while somewhat improved in 4.0, still feels largely dead on arrival, and Silverlight, too, doesn't appear to have any future; meanwhile, Apple keeps churning out one great Cocoa improvement after another). Somehow, Apple has not only figured out what appears to be a better delineation between the devices (desktop/laptop vs. tablet/smartphone rather than desktop/laptop/tablet vs. smartphone), but also at the same time found a path to, mostly, share what's best about the two (e.g., Core Video eventually coming to iOS; now, Notification Center coming to OS X) and keep what doesn't belong separate (though they have misstepped at times).
Yes. iOS and OS X are like two tributaries of the same stream, sharing the same headwaters. By using modular underpinnings that can drive different UIs, I think Apple is getting it exactly right. I think Microsoft is once again falling prey to the "Windows everywhere" mantra, where they can't quite bear to make a hard and fast distinction between Metro and the desktop. I think that's going to be confusing and frustrating to their customers.

That which doesn't kill you weakens you slightly and makes you less able to cope until you're completely incapacitated
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psmith2.0
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2012-02-22, 22:22

Quote:
Originally Posted by pscates2.0 View Post
Interesting story.

In fact, the timing is interesting...I can see someone from Microsoft appearing onstage at the iPad 3 event to unveil/demo this. And a section of the iPad 3 part of Apple's site touting this.
Daring Fireball talks about this.

Interesting take.

Microsoft might get more from it than Apple, but Apple would still benefit huge. It's no skin off their teeth, and could only drive more iPad sales and adoption. Why wouldn't they?

They have brought Microsoft people on state in the past (Roz Ho with Office stuff), so it's not unheard of. And both would benefit.

Microsoft is smart to throw in with Apple and the iPad.

Yeah, from the moment I read this the other day all I thought was "uh...March 7? Of course Microsoft is being coy and non-committal...they're not looking to blow the surprise."

And with Phil Schiller telling Gruber and other journalists brought to New York two weeks ago to get a demo of Mountain Lion, Apple is "doing some things different now".

This would fit under that, making Office a "killer app" and draw for their iPad.
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Kraetos
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2012-02-24, 04:00

So touch isn't good enough for Office on Windows tablets, so they have to include the legacy desktop interface...

But on iPad, it is good enough?

At best, this is awkward hipocrisy, at worst, it's a tacit omission that iOS is more capable than Metro.

I honestly don't understand how a company which refuses to port their flagship product to their own touch interface is apparently happy to do so for a competitor's touch interface.

Then again, Office 1.0 made its debut on an Apple platform as well. Maybe MS knows that they won't have a real touch contender until Windows 9 or 10 (kinda like how everyone knew that Windows 1.0 was a turd) but they don't want to deprive the Office team of touch experience.

Or maybe this is the first sign that MS now realizes their best shot at remaining relevant in the post-PC world isn't Windows everywhere, but Office everywhere.

Still... It's pretty weird.

Logic, logic, logic. Logic is the beginning of wisdom, Valeris, not the end.
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chucker
 
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2012-02-24, 05:46

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kraetos View Post
So touch isn't good enough for Office on Windows tablets, so they have to include the legacy desktop interface...

But on iPad, it is good enough?

At best, this is awkward hipocrisy, at worst, it's a tacit omission that iOS is more capable than Metro.
Making inconsistent, divergent design decisions in a large corporations isn't hypocrisy or incompetence at the respective team's level, though it is arguably incompetence in leadership.

Here's one thing I'm not getting anyway: people whine at the Samsung Galaxy Tab for being too much like an iPad, and then they whine at the Windows 8 tablet concept for being too little like an iPad.

Take the Samsung Galaxy Note, for instance: yeah, so maybe it's too awkward as a phone, too small as a proper tablet, and neither here nor there. And maybe we should criticize them for lacking the insight on what it takes to make a great product without the "see what sticks" approach. And, certainly, their "LOL, Apple customers are losers who stand in line" approach to marketing is awful (though, was Apple's "Windows is for generic business suits" really that much better?). But at least they've actually delivered a product that can do things neither the iPhone nor the iPad is capable of. It has a real pressure-sensitive screen*, so it supports real digitizer pens, unlike the pretense pens available for the iPad.

*) Though I haven't found out how many pressure points it can distinguish.
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screensaver400
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2012-02-24, 13:34

I don't think there would be any complaints about an ARM-based, purely-Metro Windows 8 tablet. Metro is definitely distinct from the iPhone/Android way of doing things, in a good way. The complaint is about even the ARM tablets maintaining the traditional Windows desktop (and about the existence of Windows on both ARM and on x86).
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psmith2.0
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2012-02-24, 14:32

Another Daring Fireball post about it (and Microsoft appearing onstage at the iPad 3 event). Gruber links to an article by Jim Dalrymple, but I'll just include the DF post so you can read both parts from each writer.

I agree with Gruber's final paragraph, and have since I started this thread.
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