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Rumor: Office 2013 for Windows RT Will Lack Some Features

Microsoft reportedly will include a "preview" version of Office 2013 for Windows RT when those devices get shipped, but it's rumored that some features will get cut.

That information comes from unidentified "sources familiar with the company's plans," as reported by The Verge on Tuesday. Those sources reportedly said that the preview will lack certain capabilities in order to optimize it for use on tablets. For instance, Microsoft is said to be dropping third-party add-in support, as well as the ability to run macros or Visual Basic for Applications in Office 2013 for Windows RT, according to the report.

Microsoft would not confirm those details. However, a Microsoft spokesperson did confirm the name of the Office 2013 product that will run on Windows RT devices.

"As previously announced, for consumers buying a Windows RT device, the new Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote applications (i.e., Office Home and Student 2013 RT) will be pre-installed," a Microsoft spokesperson explained via e-mail.

Windows 8 has reached the release preview stage and is scheduled for general availability on October 26. Microsoft has indicated that it expects Windows RT devices will be available at that time, including its own Surface Windows RT-based tablet.

The status of Office 2013 for Windows RT (also known as "Windows on ARM") has remained fuzzy ever since Steven Sinofsky talked about it arriving as a "desktop app" on Windows 8 back in February. Sinofsky noted then that the ARM version of Office had required "significant reworking of the product" by Microsoft.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently presided over a demonstration of the next Office 365, but what was shown was apparently Office 2013 running on the desktop side. Metro-style Office apps have rarely seen the public light. For instance, OneNote MX is the only Metro-style app that's currently available for testing, even with Windows 8's arrival just two months away.

To make it all more confusing, Microsoft seems to be moving away from the whole "Metro" vs. "desktop" nomenclature, possibly for legal reasons. However, the dual Metro/desktop user interface remains as a key distinguishing aspect of the new Windows Runtime that was introduced with Windows 8. The distinction is especially acute for developers.

Metro-style apps are flat and borderless in appearance and optimized for a touch interface. Desktop apps are supposed to appear more like the traditional apps seen running on Windows 7, except with ribbon menu systems. Both interfaces are supported by the Windows 8 operating system.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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