Microsoft is touting the social, connected and tactile features of the next version of its desktop publishing software, Microsoft Office 2013.
The new Office is designed to work on desktop PCs as well as on tablets running the company's Windows 8 operating system. The software has been enhanced with social and cloud features and supports touch (but not as well as it should says Ars Technica), stylus, mouse and keyboard input.
"We are taking bold steps at Microsoft," Ballmer said at the press conference in San Francisco on July 16. "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."
Office 2013 has been redesigned to incorporate elements of Microsoft's Windows 8 Metro design aesthetic -- OneNote and Lync are the first two apps to get the full "touch-first" Windows 8 Metro-look experience -- and automatically saves documents in the cloud with SkyDrive.
Like Apple's iWork desktop processing apps and iCloud combination, Office and SkyDrive users will be able to start creating documents on one device and pick up where they left off on another.
There's a new social side to Office too. Microsoft Office 2013 comes with Skype integration, and the company has already started to work on features from its recent Yammer business social network acquisition.
While Microsoft has yet to announce the full Office lineup and pricing plans, it has made a "consumer preview" version of Office available as a free download. Customers that want to try the new software while it is in its last phase of development can download a preview version of Office 2013 from office.com/preview.