Skip to main content

Early Excel, Word and PowerPoint ‘universal’ apps available now for Windows Insiders

Last month Microsoft announced plans for Windows 10 as part of a flashy presentation on the future of the company’s home computing efforts. Now, Windows 10 Technical Preview users can download pre-release versions of the touch-friendly iterations of Word, Excel and PowerPoint that were announced at the event.

The Microsoft Office suite remains hugely popular for use in work and at home, despite increased competition in recent years from services like Google Docs. In keeping with Microsoft’s strategy of cross-platform equivalence with Windows 10, this version of its Office software attempts to deliver the same experience whether you’re working from your desktop or your mobile.

Members of the Windows Insider program will be able to test out early versions of the new Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps today. So long as they’re already running the preview build of Windows 10 released a couple of weeks ago, the new “universal” apps will be available to download from the Windows Store.

These touch-friendly apps take a slightly different approach from the standard Office package, with their focus on delivering a similar experience across different devices rather than offering as comprehensive a program as users might expect from their desktop-centric relation. Central to this is the simplification of the ‘Ribbon’ interface, with many of the tools you would expect to see on-screen at all times moving away from the default toolbar.

As with any change to such a widely used piece of software, it’s something that will turn off many users, even if it’s implemented with the best intentions. It’s obvious why these decisions have been made — to make parity between devices with differently sized screens easier — but whether it can offer the same functionality as the full desktop package remains to be seen.

However, Office purists needn’t be too worried about the future of the software. While these touch-friendly apps are a big focus of Microsoft’s Windows 10 push, they’re far from the be-all and end-all. The more traditional Office 2016 is still on track to launch in 2015.

While members of the Windows Insider program are entitled to an early peek at these new apps now, it won’t be too long before the rest of us get to test them out for ourselves. These touch-friendly Office apps are set to be released before the year is out, so expect to see plenty more on how the software is shaping up ahead of its launch.

Brad Jones
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Brad is an English-born writer currently splitting his time between Edinburgh and Pennsylvania. You can find him on Twitter…
Windows 11 has been causing problems with Intel graphics for months, and no one said a word
A Windows 11 device sits on a table.

If you're using Intel integrated graphics and you've been having some issues with DirectX apps, we may know the reason why -- outdated drivers paired with a recent Windows update.

According to Microsoft, a Windows 11 update may have caused some errors in Intel graphics. The update is not recent at all, so even if you haven't updated in the last few weeks, you may be affected.

Read more
Microsoft might put ChatGPT into Outlook, Word, and PowerPoint
Bibliography in Word on a desktop computer.

Microsoft is currently testing the GPT AI language that was developed by the technology brand OpenAI to potentially be used in its Office suite of products, including Word, Outlook, and PowerPoint.

OpenAI's intuitive technology products, including ChatGPT and Dall-E 2, have become internet sensations for their text- and image-generating prowess. Many have speculated about how ChatGPT can practically and morally be used. However, Microsoft is looking to use the company's AI models in a more functional manner. The company has already implemented a version of the OpenAI GPT text-generator model as an update to its autocomplete feature, according to The Information.

Read more
Update Windows now — Microsoft just fixed several dangerous exploits
Person sitting and using an HP computer with Windows 11.

Microsoft has just released a new patch, and this time around, the update comes with fixes for several dangerous and actively abused vulnerabilities and exploits in Windows.

A total of 68 vulnerabilities were addressed in the patch, many of them critical. Here's what was fixed and how to make sure your Windows device is up to date.

Read more