powerpoint build 2

Microsoft demos touch-focused Office apps at Build

Less than a week after introducing Office for iPad, Microsoft showed off the progress of touch-friendly Metro Office apps at its Build conference keynote on Wednesday. While the company didn't even hint at a release date or show off the full range of Office apps, Microsoft Office CVP Kirk Koenigsbauer took the stage to guide users through an early build of the modern PowerPoint app.

Surprise! It looked an awful lot like the Office desktop programs, though Microsoft stressed the interface was a preliminary version.

With the Metro apps, Koenigsbauer said, Microsoft wanted to create "an unmistakably Office experience, and a key part of that is the ribbon." There should be no learning curve moving from the traditional desktop to these modern-style apps, Koenigsbauer said.

powerpint preview

Microsoft built the modern Office apps using DirectX, and Koenigsbauer claims that the apps already deliver blazing performance; PowerPoint certainly didn't lag in the demo. Another key focus was ensuring that every Office doc opens in full fidelity in the modern-style Office apps.

The Office apps may look like their desktop counterparts, but there are some finger-friendly differences. The buttons in the modern apps are built to deliver a "great, touch-first experience," complete with large touch points throughout menus. PowerPoint's presentation mode can also be navigated by finger swiping, and it will include gesture commands such as touch-to-zoom.

universal office app

Koenigsbauer showed off the Metro PowerPoint app working on both a Windows tablet and Windows phone, thanks to the new universal app capabilities of Microsoft's ecosystem. 

The Metro office apps take advantage of some of the Windows ecosystem's unique selling points, as well—most notably Microsoft's cloud-centric focus. Koenigsbauer said that all Metro Office files save directly to OneDrive and are available across devices, while the apps themselves take advantage of Microsoft's new universal app capabilities to deliver a common experience regardless across Windows hardware.

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