Since the release of Windows 8, we have all ben wondering when we would see a touch-optimized Office experience. We saw apps delivered to both iOS and Android first, but still nothing for Windows other than Office 2013 for desktop. All of that changes today as Microsoft has release previews of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint as Universal Apps for Windows 10. If you are not familiar with the term Universal app yet, this is a single app that can run on Windows 10 desktops, tablets, and phones. Support for Xbox One has even been pledged but there hasn’t been any updates on that in quite some time. These look just like existing apps for Windows 8.1 formerly known as Metro, Windows Store, and now Modern Applications in Windows 10.
You’ll need to be running the latest public build (9926) of Windows 10 to try these preview out. The original blog post had links to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. However, they have been removed for the moment. However, I still have the links to Word and Excel handy. These links only worked for me in Internet Explorer. If you try them on a Windows 8.1 computer, you won’t see the “Get” button nor will you be redirected to the Windows Store to download the app. The blog posts says you can do a search from the new Windows Store (Beta) app, but I haven’t had it work yet. This is typical though when a new app is released to the store.
After you have installed the apps, launch them from your start menu or by asking Cortana. We’ll start with Excel Preview. Notice, Excel Preview listed as a Modern Application where Excel 2013 is a Desktop Application.
When each Office Preview app starts, it will show you a quick three-step tutorial on how to get started specifically highlighting touch features. Here, you learn how to move columns by touch.
You can add rows and columns with a tap.
Here, you have the option to join the customer experience improvement program.
Once you start the app, you’ll see a familiar screen with templates that you can use to get started. It will automatically pull in your recent files that you have used on OneDrive.
Be sure and click on the Accounts button to add your Office 365 account if you have one. Unfortunately, you have to do this in each app separately.
You’ll then be able to see a list of all your apps across OneDrive for Personal and Business use like you see in this example from Word Preview
If we create a new document, we’ll see a new touch friendly Excel. The buttons and icons are spaced a part to make them each to touch with your finger.
One feature I really like is the light bulb icon. Clicking this will allow you to search for functionality that you can’t find in the ribbon. For example, if I wanted to insert a chart, it gives me the options right there by typing the word “Chart”.
Excel should be able to open many of your existing spreadsheets as well. Although, I found that Excel Preview crashes quite a bit more than the other Office Preview apps. Some of my spreadsheets it just refused to open. That’s to be expected though. Excel spreadsheets can get complicated quickly and this is a preview product.
Some spreadsheets are out-right not supported. If you are pulling data from a SharePoint list or using PowerView, it will display an error message telling you why. I’m not surprised this doesn’t work but maybe it will some day in the future.
For desktop users of Office 2013, the biggest change you will have to adjust to is that you can only have one file open at a time. Now before you start bashing Universal apps on Windows 10, keep in mind that the Office apps on iOS and Android have this same restriction.
I’ve been pretty excited to see the launch of Office for Windows 10. We’ll cover Word Preview and PowerPoint Preview in an upcoming article. While you may not use these apps on your Surface Pro 3 in desktop mode. I think these apps will do great when the device is running in Tablet mode. If you have been thinking about running Windows 10 on your device, be sure and check out my review on IT Unity.