In the article on Windows 8, I already mentioned that in order to demonstrate the viability of Metro for something other than Facebook and Twitter, Microsoft should come up with a Metro interface for Microsoft Office – one that doesn’t leave out 90% of Office’s features. Well, Microsoft has hinted that they are, indeed, working on Metro Office. In addition, it turns out Microsoft isn’t entirely sure to how to address the issue if legacy applications on ARM.
As far as Metro goes, it does seem to have a stigma: it’s a tablet interface, not suited for real work. At worst, some consider it to be nothing but a toy when it comes to desktop/laptop computing. Personally, I belong in the camp that Metro is, indeed, a toy for desktop/laptop computing – no window management pretty much seals that deal for me.
Still, a good way for Microsoft to make sure Metro can do more than just be good at Twitter and Facebook is to Metrofy Microsoft Office. The reasoning here is that if they can create a compelling Metro interface for what is surely the most complicated piece of software most users ever have to deal with, then Metro is ready for real work.
In my eyes, Metro Office should not be a cut-down version of the real thing. Microsoft expects us to use Metro on our desktops and laptops, and as such, Metro applications should be at least just as capable as current, traditional software. A cut-down Metro interface for Office just for tablets is fine – but for desktop/laptop Windows 8 users, we’re going to need more than that.
While Microsoft hasn’t yet confirmed just how feature-rich Metro Office is going to be, they did confirm they’re working on it – just like I said back in July. “You ought to expect that we are rethinking and working hard on what it would mean to do Office Metro style,” Steve Ballmer told a Wall Street analyst.
Another story currently unfolding regarding Windows 8 concerns its support for the ARM architecture. The question is – how will Windows 8/ARM deal with legacy applications coded for x86? Microsoft already stated virtualisation (like Apple’s Rosetta) was out of the question, but what about recompiling? Will the old stack be included and/or open for development at all on the ARM version?
This Is My Next’s Joanna Stern posed this question to Microsoft executive Mike Anguilo, and he basically said that even Microsoft itself hasn’t been able to answer this question yet. “Porting things and whether we open native desktop development are either decisions that are either not made or not announced yet,” he said.
I think the problem here is that with Windows available for ARM, ARM laptops will become easier to market. Not allowing any form of legacy applications on tablets is one thing, but the situation gets murkier when you talk about laptops. A laptop running Windows is a laptop running Windows, whether it’s got an x86 or an ARM chip. Sure, we geeks may care about that stuff, but normal people will just see a laptop. And that laptop needs to run Awesome Garden Designer Pro 2003.
This is something Microsoft needs to address, but how, I honestly don’t know.