Microsoft on Monday lifted the veil on a major revamp of its Office software, the first time the company has introduced significant changes to the productivity suite in three years.
The new Office 15 has been designed primarily for Windows 8 computers and will run on PCs as well as touchscreen tablets. At an event in San Francisco, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer emphasized that the new Office suite is universally touch-friendly, touting not only the ability to control the entire application using one's fingers, but also to mark up and annotate documents and presentations using a stylus.
Microsoft also placed a heavy emphasis on Office's new cloud connectivity. Just as one would in Google Docs, Office users will be able to log into Office applications using their Microsoft accounts and sync their files in the cloud via Microsoft's SkyDrive service; documents, presentations and spreadsheets will automatically update and track changes, so users will be able to access the most recent version of any file from any device.
Other changes to the Office suite include a more minimal, Windows 8-inspired interface; third-party app integration, as well as the ability to make Skype calls with collaborators within the app; and several new editing features in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel, including -- and this is huge -- improvements in how to re-size and move photographs within a Word document.
Want to download it now? If you're using a device running Windows, just visit the Microsoft Office Preview portal and sign in with your Windows Live ID to download the 32-bit. (You can also get a 64-bit version here.) You'll need Windows 7 and a Microsoft Live account.
For much, much more on Microsoft Office 15, visit our sister site Engadget for an in-depth overview of absolutely everything the new Microsoft Office has to offer.