Microsoft Office just made its official debut on Apple’s iPad, and Microsoft is now bringing that touch-based experience to Windows 8.1 desktop users. The Seattle software maker unveiled touch versions of its most popular Office apps for PC, creating a shared Office experience between your PC, tablet and Widows Phone.
Sporting a similar look to Office for iPad, this still in-progress desktop build of Office utilizes larger toolbars and icons for easy touch control. This updated Office retains Microsoft’s iconic “Ribbon” interface, though it’s far less busy and looks like it will keep users from tapping an undesired icon.
Microsoft only demoed PowerPoint at Build 2014, though we also saw app icons for new versions of Word and Excel. Key functions like “New Slide,” “Section” and “Layout” were presented prominently at the top left of the screen, and the app supports touch gestures like pinching to zoom.
These updated Windows 8.1 desktop apps are meant to be part of a shared experience, as Microsoft also unveiled universal Windows apps that will stretch across desktops, tablets and Windows Phones. This cohesion should allow you to, say, start up a Word doc on your desktop and finish it later on your Windows Phone without losing any formatting.
Microsoft didn’t announce a release date for this new version of Office, but chances are we’ll get our hands on it soon.