Microsoft looks at Office 2013 to drive sales

MICROSOFT last night unveiled a new version of Office, its flagship software suite, in an attempt to drive usage of its upcoming Windows 8 operating system and Surface tablets.

The technology giant’s chief executive Steve Ballmer, called it “the most ambitious release of Office we’ve ever done” at yesterday’s press conference in San Francisco.

The new version is the first to be designed for tablets as well as PCs, and was revealed weeks after Microsoft announced Surface, its competitor to Apple’s iPad.

The latest software, called Office 2013, will also store and edit documents online “in the cloud”, so that they are available on other computers, tablets and phones.

Office is Microsoft’s most profitable division, and dominates the business application market. Its success is seen as crucial to Microsoft’s plans for Surface and Windows 8.

The smaller of the two Surface models will run the Windows RT version of the operating system, which includes the touchscreen release of Office, while the desktop version will only run on Windows 7 and 8, meaning those running older software will have to upgrade.

Microsoft did not reveal Office 2013’s price or release date.