Office 2016 for touch is still somewhat of a mystery among Microsoft fans eagerly waiting for the company to release a touch-friendly version of the popular Office productivity suite. We’ve seen a number of builds from the desktop side of Office 2016 leak, however Microsoft has kept relatively quiet on the touch side of things. Luckily, WinBeta has managed to obtain an early preview version of the upcoming Word, PowerPoint, and Excel touch apps, and we’ve placed our hands all over them!
Obviously, these preview apps are not final, meaning they do not represent the final product and are a little rough around the edges. Each app is full with features and functions which you can find on the desktop version, however not all features are included in this early build. The touch suite of apps is aimed more at tablets and low-end devices, however normal Office users who need to get work done will not have a problem with these apps.
The apps work on all Windows 10 form factors, ranging from high-end desktops down to the smallest of phones. Today, we’re looking at the Office suite on the desktop, just to give users an idea of how they work with a mouse and keyboard. They work pretty good — I had no issues working in each of the apps with my mouse and keyboard. Shortcuts work like you expect too, which is good news for power users.
We’ve made a short hands-on video showcasing the new apps, just to give you an idea how they look and operate. Take a look at the embedded video below — Office 2016 for touch works well with touch as well as keyboard/mouse. As you will see, the buttons and menu items are large, with enough padding around them, allowing touch users an easy way to tap on common tasks. If you opt to use Office 2016 touch with a keyboard and mouse, the experience is just as great.
Writer’s disclaimer: Just a word of warning, I’m not that great at Excel :)
Diving a little deeper into each of the apps features, all three apps have been designed and developed to work great on smaller screen as well as large devices. I used these apps on both my 27″ 2560 x 1440 desktop PC and 7″ 1280 x 800 tablet display. It works great on any screen size, which is one selling point among many for this suite of apps.
Not only that, but the apps work much like the web apps found on the OneDrive website. You don’t manually save, it does it for you automatically all of the time. What this means is that your document, presentation or spreadsheet is constantly being updated across all your devices. Of course, if you wish to save manually you can do so by saving a copy locally to your hard drive. As of right now, support for text prediction (when using the touch keyboard) is not yet available, but will make an appearance in future updates.
It appears that the apps require you to be signed into a Microsoft Account, as the apps are constantly saving to OneDrive. That’s a small tradeoff however, as the suite of apps are free.
The right-click menu is contextual, however it mostly consists of Cut, Copy and Paste. All other right click functions are either tucked away in nav bars or not available at all.
So that’s a very quick look at the upcoming Office touch preview. There isn’t yet a solid date for when these apps will become available to the public, however we’re pretty sure it wil be sometime this month. Stay tuned for more news regarding Windows 10 and Office 2016.Further reading: Microsoft, Office 2016, Windows 10