Rumor: ARM version of Office 2013 will be pared down

Last month, Microsoft confirmed that an ARM-compatible version of Office 2013 Home and Student will be bundled with Windows RT devices, including Microsoft’s own, ARM-powered Surface tablet. The company didn’t get into specifics about the software, simply noting that Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote would all be included.

Now, unofficial details are starting to leak out, and it’s sounding like folks won’t get a straight ARM port of the upcoming software suite. Quoting "sources familiar with the company’s plans," The Verge reports that Microsoft will actually pare down Office 2013 Home and Student RT, allegedly to maximize battery life on Windows RT tablets. "Macros, third-party add-ins, and VBA support" will all be missing, as will a "small number" of additional features.

The Verge goes on to say Windows RT tablets won’t ship with the full version of Office 2013 Home and Student RT when they launch in October. Rather, they’ll feature a "preview version" of the software. Users will have to upgrade to the complete release early next year.

That all sounds rather inconvenient. If true, it may force business users to forgo Windows RT tablets in favor of x86-powered Windows 8 offerings. Going the x86 route may mean paying more for a device, however. Microsoft expects the Intel-powered version of its Surface tablet to cost the same as an ultrabook, while the ARM model should be priced competitively with "comparable" ARM tablets.

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    • d0g_p00p
    • 7 years ago

    Seems like MS has already killed the Intel version of the tablet before it’s even hit the store shelves. Cost the same a ultrabook? So we are looking at a $1200 – $1500 tablet? No thanks.

    Sad to say it but it looks like the iPad will still dominate the tablet market. MS needs to cut the cost by at least half to be competitive. Sad really I was really looking forward to possibly buying a Intel surface tablet but again not that that price.

      • NeelyCam
      • 7 years ago

      Ultrabooks should cost $700 and up later this year; the price is already cut in half from your range.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 7 years ago

        Not to mention there will be Atom x86 tablets. They might cost more than ARM tablets but will be much less than mobile versions of desktop chips.

        • CuttinHobo
        • 7 years ago

        Even at that price it seems to me like $700 (or even $600) would be a hard sell. It would have to thoroughly pulverize the next iPad (“The new iPad 2”?) in a very private area to even have a chance at the same price. I’m sure they’ll price it with thin margins to make a good first impression, but I can’t imagine Surface will ever have the volumes necessary to bring their component cost down – as it would only be a portion of Windows’ slice of the tablet market.

          • trackerben
          • 7 years ago

          Wasn’t this the base strategy of their XBox division? Launch at a loss, improve margins along the production cost curves, reap money off app and subscription sales? They’ll probably throw in a free Live gold membership for Xbox cross-sales, free skype subscription to counter Viber on iOS, tightly integrate Cloud services like SkyDrive seamlessly into WinRT, then seal exclusive with content streamers like Netflix to get consumers’ attention. And since Microsoft has good relations with the cable companies from their joint VOD trial days, they could even think up deals where Surfaces get bundled along with new triple-play subscriptions for delivery along with the cable box. Microsoft likely will set and manage applications standards to ensure a minimum user experience.

    • tay
    • 7 years ago

    Sinofsky:
    [quote<] Our design goal was clear: no compromises. [/quote<] [quote<] Windows 8 brings together all the power and flexibility you have in your PC today with the ability to immerse yourself in a Metro style experience. You don’t have to compromise! [/quote<]

      • willmore
      • 7 years ago

      …unless you actually, you know, want to *use* it, that is.

      • Vulk
      • 7 years ago

      “You don’t have to compromise!”

      Unless you want a full tablet experience. Or you want a full desktop experience. Then, then you have to compromise. Sucker.

      • Madman
      • 7 years ago

      I think it was about consumer wishes. No start menu, no boot to desktop, ribbon – no compromises, do as MS says.

        • willmore
        • 7 years ago

        Ahh, I misunderstood the context of the “no compromises”. MS didn’t have to give up anything they wanted. The way it’s written, it really seems to imply the user.

    • moog
    • 7 years ago

    Why did you drop the reliability part of the alleged statement?

    Verge rumor:

    To optimize for Windows RT, Microsoft has made the decision to remove a number of features from its Office 2013 RT release to ensure battery life and RELIABILITY are not impacted on tablet devices.

    • blastdoor
    • 7 years ago

    Some people are going to (and already are) complaining about this, but realistically compromises must be made here.

    Also, the usage scenario for Office on a tablet is likely quite different than on a desktop PC (yeah, yeah, MS says “no compromises”, and it’s fun to ridicule them for the inconsistency, but it was a stupid thing to say in the first place and utterly unrealistic, so I’m ignoring it). On a tablet, I would want to be able to conduct document triage, mark up other people’s work, or other things that are more similar to what I would do with a printout than what I would do on a regular desktop computer. When I’m at my desktop, that’s when I’ll be doing more complicated work. No need to add that functionality (and associated clutter) to the tablet version.

    So the real key for me (other than to have an iPad version) is to have the content of files accurately rendered, and to have the full ability to edit their content, as well as use track changes and comments. Give me that on my iPad, and I’d pay a reasonable price for a “stripped down” Office.

      • trackerben
      • 7 years ago

      I alway thought that Microsoft extracted a deal from Apple not to contest the Surface and Win RT on patent grounds or in the supply chain trenches. In return, Microsoft brings out a version of Office RT for the iPad but only after the Surface and WinRT launches. This way everyone is happy except for Google and Samsung, whose toy suites will never be taken seriously in the tablet markets.

        • blastdoor
        • 7 years ago

        I suspect the story is:

        1. Apple and MS buried the IP hatchet back in the 90s and have been at peace ever since. Not sure what all was in that agreement, but they appear to have reached a long term peaceful solution.
        2. Metro looks nothing like iOS, so Apple doesn’t feel ripped off. Perhaps this is related to #1.

        I suspect an iPad version of Office will come out this year or next, and that the delay is mostly to avoid giving the iPad a head start with Office before Win8 tablets can come out. But I also suspect that the primary reason for Office on the iPad is that MS expects to make a lot of money selling it, not because of any deal with Apple. The iPad is a very big market and I’m sure the Office division absolutely HATES being held back just to prop up their frenemies in the Windows division.

    • trackerben
    • 7 years ago

    This is a good move, baking the basic Office RT suite into all shipping WinRT tablets and not just Microsoft’s own-brand surface. If they get it right on launch, users can start working asap on the included Touch smart cover, showing the benefits of both and perhaps generating real buzz.

    Of course a full-blown Office would have been better. But that’s never going to happen in the consumer market, and I suspect the basic Word, Excel, and Powerpoint will be enough for most buyers. Businesses expecting to run line stuff will just pay for the full version, as usual. If Surface’s fit-and-finish proves as worthy as the iPad, with these working ok it should be well on the way to being the smart alternative to Apple.

      • Game_boy
      • 7 years ago

      If all the features that make Office, Office, are removed, they might as well use Google Apps or a fully featured port of OpenOffice.

        • trackerben
        • 7 years ago

        Of course if you 100% decontent Office it’s no longer Office. It’s very doubtful Microsoft will even think of going that far. And Office RT has to hurdle QuickOffice’s UI and functionality on Android and iOS to make waves. Which ought to be easy though, that thing “featured” show-stopping bugs on my iPad – and to think I spent $15 on it.

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 7 years ago

          Without macros, I don’t see how this has an advantage over quick office.

            • trackerben
            • 7 years ago

            Presumably Office will save its formats properly. For too long this was rarely certain with QuickOffice even when the filelist was displaying correct filenames, macros or no macros.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 7 years ago

            Well let me restrict this conversation to Excel.

            If you can’t use the fancy spreadsheet templates your company has made, what use is being able to save them?

            • [+Duracell-]
            • 7 years ago

            There’s a reason the SKU for the WinRT version is “Home and Student”. How often do you use third party addons, and VBA at home? I can see the case for macros (I know game theorycrafters use them quite a bit), but that’s still a very small user base compared to the regular Joe Schmoe consumer.

            • trackerben
            • 7 years ago

            I wasn’t disagreeing with you, some businesses do need vba and macro fuctionality. With Office, that is trivially solved by paying for an upgrade once it’s fit and ready. QuickOffice has a far deeper issue. No amount of money thrown at it will see it free of bad, bad issues for long. Nothing can convince me to let our users do serious work with it, not even if Google were to make it free on Nexus models (the only Android tablets worth trying). In a year or two I may check on it again.

            You made me realize that Microsoft has not yet committed to releasing an Office RT upgrade which will be functionally equivalent to a full desktop suite. We will have to wait and see if Microsoft will reserve that level of features only for Surface Pro and other Win8 x86 tablets.

        • moog
        • 7 years ago

        outlook.com has free Office apps

      • [+Duracell-]
      • 7 years ago

      I agree with this. It would be nice to be able to do some basic editing of Word and Excel documents on a tablet form, especially if a quick thought comes to mind (game or software design, for example). I can jot down the idea, maybe brainstorm a few more related thoughts, then go on my desktop when I want to actually sit, pull the doc from SkyDrive, and flesh out the idea further.

        • trackerben
        • 7 years ago

        I’ve heard they are working on Smartglass on-demand document and screen transfer between Windows devices of all kinds. If you can just bring your tablet near your desktop and with a swype, pass the document over for further work, that might work out very nicely.

      • Jason181
      • 7 years ago

      I think they’re making a pretty smart move here. Who would want to use a full-blown version of Office on an ARM [i<]tablet[/i<] anyway? In addition to the limitations surrounding budget tablets, you also have input issues that make it seem like only a masochist would create macros and VBA code for it, especially at home (since this isn't a business version). I'd much rather lug a laptop (not even an ultrabook) around if I need to do serious Excel or Word work; portable keyboards and limited screen space on the tablets would not mix well with even moderately complex work. But then, I probably won't be getting a tablet anyways, and maybe the type of consumer who would buy a tablet would be more apt to utilize in ways that sound about as pleasant as a root canal.

    • GeorgeMichael
    • 7 years ago

    So they are going to dump down the ARM version to maximize battery life!
    What about dumping down the X86 version to maximize the pathetic battery on these ultrabooks with their pathetic performance.
    There’s absolutely no reason to do this; current quad core arm chips are more than capable of handling the full version of Microsoft Office 2013, and they’re unmatched when it comes to power consumption and performance/Watt.
    Microsoft is going to harm themselves with this move, having their Win8 ARM-based tablets running a fully operating version of Office 2013 would make their platform much more desirable and compelling over the competition.
    I mean the only thing that tablets lack today is a fully functional Office suite that matches the desktop version.
    People would rather get a nice Super Amoled plus 9″ tablet with a res of 2560.1600 than a crappy ultrabook with low res TN panel and horrible performance/battery life.
    Tablets have already killed the crappy netbooks, And all that’s left to start a post PC era is the death of ultrabooks that Intel is trying to save so bad, but they’ll eventually die off too.

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<] they're unmatched when it comes to power consumption and performance/Watt. [/quote<] except when compared to intel's offerings. i'm running out the door, but phoronix did a comparision between their arm servers performance per watt vs intels, and arm lost. it's not news.

        • Game_boy
        • 7 years ago

        Servers yes, but not in a tablet form factor.

          • sweatshopking
          • 7 years ago

          Well, no. The performance per watt of an Intel tablet is still higher with IB than it is with arm. The form factor doesn’t change that. NEEDED Performance with battery life, sure

            • NeelyCam
            • 7 years ago

            The battery life won’t be that much different because they’ll just use a bigger battery (just like Apple did with iPad 3). Meanwhile, if it has IB, performance is far superior to any ARM-based solution.

    • Wirko
    • 7 years ago

    Right, macros drain batteries like vampires, no matter if they are running or not, and they will not be supported until a coal power plant can be miniaturized, together with the coal, and put inside a tablet.

    • yogibbear
    • 7 years ago

    Derp Derp Derp Derp Derp Derp Derp Derp. Yawn.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 7 years ago

    I am Jack’s Raging Lack of Surprise.

    • boing
    • 7 years ago

    …is that The Pirate Bay logotype I see in the bottom right corner?

      • Meadows
      • 7 years ago

      Had your eyes checked lately?

        • boing
        • 7 years ago

        Yes, I do on a regular basis since I suffer from a crippling vision impairment.

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