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Introducing the Office Next Blog

 

PJ Hough, Corporate Vice President of Program Management, Microsoft Office Division

PJ Hough, Corporate Vice President of Program Management, Microsoft Office Division

Welcome to the Office Next blog.  I’m really excited to kick off this conversation and connect you with the engineers who are building future releases of Office—here, they’ll discuss the improvements we make, the designs we choose and the data and feedback that inform our decisions.

Back in January, I announced the technical preview of the next generation of all our Microsoft Office products and services.  As we work to bring these new products to you, we do extensive testing within Microsoft and with customers.  This testing helps us find and fix problems, and feedback from customers helps us fine tune our products to their work styles.  When they use early versions of our products and services on their turf, we learn a ton about how to evolve them to best support the ways people work.  This input helps us continue to deliver the best Office experience.

Of course, while I love feedback that lets us improve something, it’s fantastic to hear feedback about things that are already working great.  Throughout our technical preview program, I got some comments from our customers worth sharing:

You guys have made some amazing, amazing changes in this round of Office
-Susan Driever, mother and PTA board member

The look and the style of the apps is just so fluid
-Mike Riess, student

I love how well it integrates with Windows 8
-Aaress Lawless, small business owner

I can’t wait to share more about the new Office.  In my 18 years at Microsoft, I think this is the most transformational release I’ve worked on!

Stay tuned for more early comments from customers who have enjoyed a sneak peak of some of our new products and services- you’ll be seeing what they have to say on Twitter at @office and via #officepreview.  Add this blog to your RSS feeds and be sure to check back here.

 

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32 comments
  1. So does this blog going live mean the rumors of a July 16th announcement of beta may have some truth to them?

    • I just bought Office 2010 Home and Business around the first week of June. Should’ve waited for this. =(

      • Dear Mr. PJ Hough, as an Office Pro Vet, I would like Excel to improve its statistics algorithms accuracy, in order to avoid some Add-Ins. Though I love its resilience, I’d rather keep things as simple as possible, Please check http://www.daheiser.info/

        Thanks in advance, kind regards.

        • I am glad we are going to see the new version of Office finally. We have been patient for the last 3 years since a new version so I can only imagine a ton of new features. Actually not sure what can be improved so expectations are high. Many of my customers won’t upgrade sadly because they skip versions because of the cost. Make it cheaper and easier to license and maybe we will see some uptake. Else we will be stuck with 2007 and 2010 for a long while to come. BTW who is Gray Knowlton, does PJ have a ghost writer?

  2. Great looking site and I’m excited to see what’s to come!

  3. Can’t for the upcoming details and maybe the first public preview on Monday! ;)

    • I need to start testing, we’d like to roll this out 1 quarter 2013! Loving what I have seen so far! Let me in, let me in. :-)

  4. Can’t wait to see the new SharePoint!

  5. [Hmm, kept telling me I needed to be logged-in to comment, even though it showed me logged in (with MSO-blog account) at the top banner. So of course, when I actually posted a comment it required me to link with one of the available social-network options and then lost my comment. It would be wonderful if there were uniformity among blogs hosted among Microsoft fiefdoms. They might all improved together that way.]

    I’m not at all clear what it means for a release to be "transformational." It will be interesting to see how that shows up in practice.

    If there is an imminent public preview, I will be very happy to see it. I’m eager to exercise it in format-interoperability scenarios. I want to be excited about it too. Transformed, not so much.

  6. I am really looking forward to the new Office :-)

  7. Dear Mr. PJ Hough, I admire and support Microsoft’s work and direction in developing MS Office Applications that will make the Office Workspace in any Corporation a friendlier and happier place to work. I suggest that you look at not only ways to improve functionality of existing applications, integration between say MS Project, Access and Visio that help in Project Management as a ‘stand-alone’ product, not just seperate applications. Microsoft should keep in mind that Highschool/College students need your help in keeping the costs of the Student version of MS Office whereby it’s affordable to them…give them the opportunity to explore the possibilities that exist..and make it a Win-Win situation to all.

    Change your Microsoft Campus(Innovation Center)Bldg. 92 a place that attracts visitors from all around the World…just like another Disneyland but in this case with an opportunity to learn…provide the vision, innovation and spirit of your visitors..instead of just an MS Product outlet..without the opportunity to test..understand..and be guided of the possiblities in the future. There’s nobody there, "Self-guided tour" just doesn’t provide what we need…and your Store should also provide off the self Software for visitors…not just for your MS employees like it does right now….

    I took my 15 yrs. old son…and we were both interested in what we saw..but needed to see so much more that was available to the public/visitors to your Redmond Campus.

    William Woloschuk
    Managing Principal, SCS Consulting, International

    http://www.nvo.com/scsusa
    Project Management on Linkedin.com
    http://www.linkedin.com/groups/project-management-global-resources-3688687

  8. waiting for the next Office :). I want seen how it will integrate with windows 8 workspace for PC and tablets

  9. What you guys did with Office 2010 was amazing! I love the layout and simplicity.

    Suggestion for improvement, It seems the publisher tools aren’t as sophisticated as the Word and PowerPoint Tools. I would recommend giving publisher a combined Word/Powerpoint tool selection. Right now I can build better flyers with PowerPoint than I can Publisher, it seems it should be the other way around since publisher is for page layout and design.

  10. To be honest I prefer the old style to the new one, 2003 is IMO the best Office ever, but 2010 is quite good (2007 is/was horrible on the other hand).
    Anyway the most important thing for me, the number 1 request: please have excel open each file in a different window. Like Word does, like Excel did for at least 3 or 4 version up to Office 2010. It’s so annoying sometimes I think about going back to Office 2003.

  11. Waiting for the beta of the next office…

  12. I would like to highlight a few issues that I hope will be fixed in the new excel:

    - conditional formatting does not assign real colors to cells. Because of this there is no way to change the color of a cell without removing the conditional formatting from it.

    - conditional formatting has no API calls in VBA. Coupled with the previous issue that means that I can’t use the colors from conditional formatting in a VBA script either

    - the colors of charts should be editable so we can use conditional formatting on them too. A bar chart for example should allow us to set the color of each bar by using some rules

    - shapes should also be easier to manipulate. Right now dealing with imported shapes involves a lot of VBA hacking

    - shape conditional formatting should be a basic feature

    - a map API allowing us to interact with bing maps would be great

    - figuring out how to point to certain data in a VBA script is a pain. Can we please have a tool that we can click and it takes us to the spreadsheet so we can select the cells we want to address just like formulas can be done? After selection the tool could paste in the appriate refference to the data (worksheet("blablabla").cells(2,4) etc. )

    Thanks for reading

    • Sorry for making this a reply but the comment system has a broken button on firefox and chrome.

      I think powerpoint needs the most work as currently it is a tool that is only sufficient for either b-grade or minimalistic work without significant time investment. My primary concern is that right now powerpoint is only really good for static slides. A few things that would help are:

      1. Revamp the animation timeline editor for more precision and usability
      2. Easier ways to embed dynamic content like youtube videos, flash objects, portions of html 5 webpages…..
      3. The ability to hide dynamic content and its controls when they’re not needed
      4. A tool to easily create kinetic typography
      5. Invisible "trigger" objects designed to work with touch screens for increased integration with smart-boards and equivalent products used in the classroom
      6. Native support for various "clickers" to make polling a room much easier and transparent
      7. Make almost every property on objects keyframable and the resulting curves accessible and editable
      8. Make almost every property on objects accessible to VBA and maybe javascript or python if Microsoft is feeling generous (but out of character).
      9. Easier to discover and configure hotkeys
      10. More levels of control for the mac versions of office. In windows you can set the animation length to whatever you want but on mac you can only set them to "slow", "medium", "fast", or "very fast."

      I have more wishes for powerpoint but those are my top feature requests.

      tl;dr, MAKE DYNAMIC AND KINETIC CONTENT BETTER!

      • Sorry here as well (for the reply) – the blog has a bug on FireFox … the "Post" button is missing

        I have also some suggestions on getting language support a little better.

        The things that disturb my work and bother me about Office right now are:
        1) In PowerPoint it is not possible to do a Ctrl+A and change the language so that it would affect all slides and all objects with text at once (or at least all objects of a slide!). Currently I have to go through all elements and do it manually.
        2) The most commonly used languages (in a drop-box, for instance) should have a quick access button (would be nice if I could configure, which languages I use…). Going all the way to Review->Language->Language Preferences and then finding the right one (as the most common ones somehow change all the time) is painful and takes a lot of time (if I use mostly two, a list of hundreds of languages is kinda messy as well).
        3) If two elements containing text have different languages, the language icon in the bottom line (status bar?) disappears, which renders it useless in many cases and requires to go the long way…
        4) A global button for language settings (or an option that makes language configuration totally independent of keyboard layout and locality settings within a document) that ignores system’s local settings and the keyword layout (or changes the keyword layout if it is different to the user’s specified one for the document!) would be useful. For instance, if I write a document in English, but my keyboard layout is set to Latvian, I have to change the language of every newly created PowerPoint element (in Outlook this also would be handy as the language handling in Outlook is as messy as in PowerPoint … which is strange) because PowerPoint (regardless of default settings in PowerPoint) sets the element’s language to Latvian by default. A global button that overrides the locality settings would be, therefore, helpful.

  13. I hope the new Office 2013 will work as smoothly with Windows 7 and Windows 8, where it obviously as a brother or sister will cooperate. In any case I look forward to this beta ….

  14. I too have issues with the blog. You cannot sign up or log in with Internet Explorer 10 and there is no compatibility icon to force it to IE9 mode and on Google Chrome the signup page appears messed up. Also when trying to upload an avatar it took me to a 404 error but worked on the 3rd attempt.
    Edit – doesn’t even work on Chrome – shows my name and avatar at the top but no option to post this comment and a signin button above which if pressed loses my comment and doesn’t sign me in. Luckily I always copy comments to the clipboard before pressing anything.
    Also logging in via the other methods results in (Error code: ssl_error_rx_record_too_long)

    Anyway looking forward to the Office 2013 beta and the way this will integrate with Windows 8 and I would also like it if Excel opened files in a new window by default like all the other office applications do. The workaround is to open Excel on its own (right-click on taskbar icon and then click on Microsoft Office Excel 2010) then browse for the file with the second window but then you end up with a blank document behind which you need to close.
    In the days of multi-monitors it would seem better and would make it work more like other products do.

    Also looking forward to Exchange v.next and Sharepoint v.next. My servers are waiting to be upgraded!

  15. I’d love to see some information on what’s happening with InfoPath. There’s plenty of leaked information on the net about Word, Excel, Outlook and OneNote, but nothing on InfoPath. We’ve made fairly touch-friendly InfoPath forms for end users to use on tablets with Windows 7 but I’d like to see what’s in store for InfoPath + Metro in Win 8 (if anything) :)

  16. Thank you all for the comments!

    My role on this blog is editor. I’ll do most of the posting, mainly because I’m fussy about how they look :). In most cases we’ll have a preamble to introduce a post, in this case we just wanted to give PJ the floor.

    We’ll work to get your questions answered as best we can throughout the day. The submit / post button issue for Firefox should be addressed now, I have not tested it in Chrome.

  17. Over the course of the next few days and weeks, individual product teams will update their blogs with specifics for their individual products, and on this blog we’ll drill deeply into some of the critical investment areas of the release. Stay tuned to http://blogs.office.com/ for details.

  18. Sven, great to hear that you have the installation up and running! Yes, the Oulook Icon color has changed, we’ll have some in depth commentary on this and other topics very soon. At this point the proofing tools for other languages are in development, stay tuned for more updates on releases for those.

  19. Joe, Thank you for the feedback on footnote commenting. The Word team (over on the Word blog) can help you as well.

  20. Giorgio, Each product team will update its blog with specifics for the new version. Stay tuned to the Access team blog and they will share what’s new in their product!

  21. Just got the new Office 15 preview, and I love it so far, great work!

    I really like the new style comments in Word, the way you can reply to comments, and mark as "Done", and the fact that you can now add comments using select and right-click.

    But WHY can you still not add comments to footnotes? I am a developer for Shabash Ltd, and we write software that, among other things, automatically adds comments to text that needs correcting. We have to do really ugly and unsatisfactory workarounds for footnotes, because you can’t add comments to footnotes, and it’s THE most frustrating thing about Word for us. PLEASE can you improve this? Or let me know if there’s a reason it can’t be done?

    Thanks!

  22. The release of Office 2013 is good news.

    I do have one very specific question though: is Microsoft going to release an iPhone/iPad app for the Outlook Tasks?

    I am not sure if Microsoft is ever interested in producing apps for the iPhone. It could be that Microsoft’s policy is not to develop apps for Apple’s app store – in which case, that would include my question too.

    However, it seems to me that Outlook is a fantastic Windows app and once someone has something other than a Windows phone, (s)he cannot really use a good app on the device for task management.

  23. Ok, it’s just a preview.
    But I’m disappointed about the "spartanic" outfit. The symbols in the ribbons suggest a retro to the early 90th.
    Positiv I noticed the integration of most dialogs to the pane area; but dialogs without a live preview still exist. I hoped that these relics would have been overcome in the new version – so I hope along for the final.

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