Microsoft CEO hints at 'Metro-ization' of Office

Desktop suite will continue, but Microsoft needs a touch-based edition for tablets, says expert

Computerworld - Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Wednesday strongly hinted that the company will craft a Metro-style version of the next Office suite.

"You ought to expect that we are rethinking and working hard on what it would mean to do Office Metro style," said Ballmer, when asked by a Wall Street analyst whether Microsoft is working on a version of Office for Windows 8's Metro touch-based interface.

Metro is the name Microsoft has given the tile- and touch-based interface borrowed from Windows Phone 7, the smartphone operating system, and before that, Zune, the company's portable music player. The interface is the first thing users see when they launch Windows 8, and apps must be specially-coded to run in Metro.

A Metro style look-and-feel would be a massive change for Office, one that would dwarf the "ribbonization" that set off a firestorm of complaints about Office 2007's new look. The criticism died down, and Microsoft later extended the ribbon in Office 2010 and Windows 7. It will ribbonize other components of Windows 8, notably the OS's file manager.

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