SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) unveiled a new version of its widely used, lucrative suite of word processing, spreadsheet and email programs, one designed specifically with tablet computers and Internet-based storage in mind.
“We are taking bold steps at Microsoft,” Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said at an event today in San Francisco. “The new, modern Office will deliver unparalleled productivity and flexibility for both consumers and business customers. It is a cloud service and will fully light-up when paired with Windows 8.”
Revenue in Microsoft’s business division, the company’s largest, increased 6.4 percent to $17.7 billion in the nine months ended March 31. Microsoft is trying to sell customers Web-based versions of its Word, Excel and e-mail programs and add social features to its marquee software suite to stave off competition from Google Inc. and Jive Software Inc.
Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, has said it will provide versions of Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint available on its upcoming Windows RT operating system, which will be released in late October and is designed for tablet computers to rival Apple Inc.’s iPad.
A test version of the programs was shared with select partners and customers starting in January.
The company updated its online corporate-software offerings a year ago to include a full Web-based version of Office 2010.
Microsoft agreed last month to buy corporate social-network operator Yammer Inc. for $1.2 billion to help it woo businesses with Facebook-like tools that enable employees to collaborate in the workplace. Microsoft plans to add Yammer’s tools to its Office and SharePoint software for businesses.
Microsoft said the new Office was designed as a service first, so the programs can run easily on multiple devices connected to the Internet.
The programs will store documents online through Microsoft’s SkyDrive service by default, meaning users will have to change settings to store documents on their own computer. The programs will also remember settings, including where you last left off in a document, as you move locations. The Internet-based services approach is one Google has been promoting with its own suite of similar programs.
“This is the most ambitious release of Office that we have ever done,” CEO Steve Ballmer said Monday in unveiling the new Office in San Francisco.
A preview version of the new Office suite is being made available online at http://office.com/preview. Microsoft Corp. isn’t saying when it will go on sale or what the price will be. Those details will come in the fall.
Other features in the new Office include:
- Inkling, which lets you use a stylus to write on a device’s screen. Handwritten notes are converted automatically to text.
- Integration with Yammer, a social network for businesses, and with Skype, a video chat service. Microsoft agreed last month to buy Yammer for $1.2 billion, while Microsoft spent $8.5 billion to buy Skype last year.
- Bing Maps will be part of the new Outlook email program. If there’s an address in an email, just tap on it to get directions.
- A “reading” mode on Word will make it easier to read word-processing documents on a tablet or e-reader. That mode will make the document look more like a book page. You can also embed video into Word documents, or share a document directly on Facebook.
(The AP and Bloomberg contributed to this report.)