It will never be possible to simplify productivity software as complex as Microsoft Office down to a Metro UI level, which is why it has been reported that the Office team at Microsoft aren’t keen to release a metro version. However a new leaked series of screenshots published on The Verge seem to show that some Metro visual elements have indeed made the move from Windows.
This new cleaner interface is probably what we would expect but Microsoft have long worked to make Office easier to use and to make documents and features within it easier to find.
It is actually quite difficult to improve on Microsoft Office and this is a problem the company has faced for some years now. For many people versions such as Office XP offered every feature they needed and many more consider Office 2003 to be the definitive version. This being the last version before the introduction of the Ribbon interface in Office 2007.
The Ribbon still exists in Office 15 and is the one interface element that could port successfully to Windows 8’s new Metro UI. In fact this blogger has been left wondering why it isn’t there already? This alone could make for a reasonable version of Office for Metro.
With Office 15 Microsoft’s focus has been on productivity and helping people to get things done. This is a much better approach then working on features. As I mentioned earlier most people only use a tiny proportion of Office features and many people are content to use the stripped-down free Office 2010 Starter that ships with new Windows PCs or even the free Office web apps. The ARM version of Windows 8 will also come with free desktop versions of Microsoft Office, though how usable they will be remains to be seen given the history Windows 7 has on tablets.
A public beta of Office 15, which does still not have a formal name, is expected to be released in the summer with a final version due at the end of the year or early next.