Today brings the news that Microsoft Office 15 is now in Technical Preview (also known as private beta).
There is little news about what is in it other than this:
With Office 15, for the first time ever, we will simultaneously update our cloud services, servers, and mobile and PC clients for Office, Office 365, Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Project, and Visio.
So what would you like to see in Office 15? Here are a few things on my wish list:
- Properly integrate SharePoint (and therefore Office 365) with Windows so that you can use it easily without ever opening a web browser. That might mean fixing SharePoint WorkSpace or doing something better, like Explorer integration without the various hassles associated with WebDAV.
- Fix Outlook, or better still replace it. I hear many complaints about Outlook, either concerning its performance, or else one of its many annoyances such as how hard it is to reply to an email while quoting sections of the original message – astonishing, when you consider the maturity of the product.
- Improve cross-platform support. Office on the Mac is poor compared to the Windows version, particularly in terms of performance. It is also time Microsoft came out with apps for iOS and Android for touch-friendly document editing.
- Update the user interface for touch control as far as possible. This will be critical for Windows 8 tablets, especially on ARM.
- Improve structured document editing in Word. Styles are hard to use, so are bullets and numbering. I tend not to use the paragraph numbering in Word because it is so fiddly and annoying.
The problem is that Office is a huge and intricate bag of legacy. The work Microsoft did in replacing the menus with ribbon toolbars was admirable in its way, and potentially more touch-friendly, but if you scratch the surface much is unchanged underneath. All the old commands remain.