Microsoft retools Office for touch screen, web use

The revamped Office boasts touch controls, just like the redesigned version of Windows that Microsoft released three months ago.

Microsoft is aiming its redesigned Office software at the growing number of people who expect their favorite applications to be at their fingertips, wherever there’s an internet connection.

In an attempt to extend a lucrative franchise beyond personal computers, the world’s biggest software maker is selling a retooled version of Office as an online subscription service to consumers for the first time. It’s a departure from Microsoft’s traditional approach of granting permission to install Office on solitary machines for a one-time fee.

The Jan. 29 release comes six months after Microsoft previewed the new-look Office, which includes popular word processing, spreadsheets, and eMail programs.

“This is a fundamental shift in our business that began a several years ago,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer wrote in a blog post.

The revamped Office boasts touch controls, just like the redesigned version of the Windows operating system that Microsoft released three months ago. The company, which is based in Redmond, Wash., is trying to ensure that its products retain their appeal at a time when people increasingly rely on mobile devices instead of personal computers.

To tap into that trend, Microsoft is promoting Office 2013 as a program tailored for use over the internet. All information is automatically stored in Microsoft’s data centers, allowing for access to the same material on multiple devices. The content also can be stored on the hard drives of devices.

But Microsoft still isn’t trying to get Office on the largest number of devices possible. Office 2013 doesn’t include an option that works on Apple’s iPhone and iPad or smart phones and tablet computers running the Android software made by Google Inc. That leaves out the majority of smart phones and tablets sold in the past two years.

(Next page: More details about the latest Office software)

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