Microsoft wants to put an ad for Office right on your keyboard

Microsoft Office key
WalkingCat/Microsoft

Microsoft might roll out a dedicated Office key to Windows keyboards, and the proposition has us scratching our heads. Is this really necessary?

According to The Verge, Microsoft’s Office key concept was first spotted on Monday, June 17, when Twitter tech detective WalkingCat published screenshots of a survey sent to users that asked them questions about their experience with the Office key. The survey seems to only be able to only be accessible to those with work or school Microsoft accounts but WalkingCat’s screenshot of the survey can be found here.

The survey Microsoft sent out revealed a few details about the Office key: Namely, that the key expected to work with the May 2019 update of Windows 10, and that the Office key is supposed to support the use of a variety of Office-related keyboard shortcuts. The only photo of the key included in the survey, also indicates that it will have the familiar Office logo (a 3D square-shaped outline) and that it may show up as a key located next to an ALT key.

While the Office key could be helpful for frequent Office users, the whole concept still reads like another unnecessary add-on or permanent product placement ad for its Office subscription service. If Microsoft really wanted to make things easier for its existing Office customers, it would have made more sense to just enable Office-specific keyboard shortcuts that make use of the keys that already exist in current and past versions of Windows keyboards.

Dedicated Microsoft-specific keys aren’t new, but the ones that have been around (like the iconic Windows flag key) serve an actual purpose. The inclusion of additional keys should probably follow that standard.

Not to mention, not all Windows users use Office. The addition of an Office key is unlikely to encourage non-Office users to subscribe to Office products. If people aren’t subscribing to Office, it’s not because of a lack of Office key keyboard shortcuts. It’s probably because some users may find it easier on their budgets to use free productivity apps rather than pay to use them. Especially when those free apps now make editing Office documents much easier.

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