It’s been a long time coming and today they are finally here, Microsoft has finally released the preview versions of Word, Excel and, PowerPoint apps, which are part of the touch-friendly version of the Office 2016 suite due later this year. Although, Microsoft has shown more interest on having a better touch-friendly version of Office on iOS and Android. This is no longer the case in Windows 10 and users will see that it was worth the wait.
While the suite of Universal Office apps for Windows 10 include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote. Today the software maker is only releasing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, as OneNote already comes preinstalled with Windows 10, so the only app left to come out is Outlook.
The apps are Universal apps, which means that the same exactly code runs on PCs, tablets, and phones. Though, the company has yet to release a touch-optimized version of the universal apps for tablets and phones. (According to the company, these apps will be arriving in the coming weeks.)
I’m a regular user of the desktop version of Office (I use it everyday to write my articles) and after a few minutes of testing the new touch-optimized versions of Office 2016 apps, I’m satisfied with the early progress. The new apps are simple, yet powerful, and they pack all the necessary functionality a regular user can need. Even though, the desktop version of Office is packed with useful features, Microsoft has successfully managed to include the features I need. However, I’m sure that enterprise users will find a lot of features missing.
The Office touch apps are in the road to the be the perfect suite for Windows 10 devices. The installation is super easy through the new Windows Store (one-click installation). They feel lightweight, speedy, and anyone can use them right away. Better yet, they are very identical to Office for iPad and Android.
Word is simple, you create a new document and you can easily use your fingers to navigate the different features and write an essay in no time. Once you’re done writing, you can safely save the document to OneDrive, but you can also opt to upload the file to other services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and other cloud services by using the File Explorer.
All the basic formatting features are preserved in the touch-optimized version, you can change fonts, heading, insert pictures, tables, shapes, change layouts, review your document, and even there is a reading mode to strip away all the editing tools for distraction free reading.
At this moment, there is not print option and you cannot snap two Word documents side-by-side, you can only work with one document at a time (this is true for Excel and PowerPoint too).
Excel also packs a lot of features from basic formulas, calculations, and to all the basic formatting you can expect from Excel. Anyone who has used the desktop version of Excel in the past can use the new version, which it’s even easier.
PowerPoint has enough features to create a flashy presentation and get that job. The Universal app also supports inking for annotations in presentation mode.
All the three apps provide enough functionality at the current stage that is enough to get the work done in no time, without the need to switch to the desktop version of Office. It’s worth noting that Microsoft will be making these app free, but they will be limited on the features you can use. If you want more features, you’ll need to have an Office 365 subscription, but on the free version you have enough to create, edit, and save a document, spreadsheet, and presentation.
Word and Excel do not feature inking at this time, but it won’t be a surprise if this changes in future releases. If you’re not counting, OneNote and PowerPoint are the only apps that currently support inking technology for annotations. Printing is also missing, but we can expect this support before the official release, similar to what happened with the iPad version of Office. All three apps at this moment do not have a settings page, what you see is what you get today, but be sure that Microsoft will add more functionality as we come close to the final release.
Like in Office for iPad and Android, and the Office Online, you can rename a file by clicking the current name at the top of the file. This version of Office 2016 optimized for touch also includes Microsoft’s “Tell me” feature to find answers on how to use the app and you can also access “Insights” powered by Bing to research or find new free images to insert into your document.
Overall, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint work smoothly and give us a glance of how great Windows 10 apps can be. This is without a doubt a good sign from Microsoft of what is to come in the next version of the operating system due in 2015.