Buyers of computers running Windows RT, the Windows 8 version for ARM-based devices, will receive at no additional cost a version of Office that will become available in multiple languages between November and January.
The devices, expected to be mostly tablets, that being to ship in late October will include a preview version of Office Home & Student 2013 RT, which will be replaced via download with a full-featured version via Windows Update download once the version for the user's language becomes available.
Office Home & Student 2013 RT will only run in Windows RT machines and will not be sold as a stand-alone product, Microsoft said on Thursday in a blog post in which it detailed the particulars of this Office version.
The Office version for Windows RT will include Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, and has been designed to provide what Microsoft calls "a complete Office experience" while also being optimized for tablet touchscreens and low battery consumption.
This version of the productivity suite was built from the same code base as the versions of Office for computers running x86 and x64 chips from Intel and AMD. Office for Windows RT includes "the vast majority" of the features available in Office Home & Student 2013 for PCs, according to Microsoft.
It offers a "full Office feature-set and fidelity and service parity," including the ability to save files to the SkyDrive online storage service and synchronizing application settings via the cloud among different devices.
Some of the absent features include macros, add-ins, and features that rely on ActiveX controls or third-party code, as well as legacy features such as the ability to play older media formats in PowerPoint and edit equations written in Equation Editor 3.0, used in older versions of Office.
Also not included are some email sending features, because Windows RT doesn't use Outlook or other desktop mail applications. Users can send Office content with the OS's native mail application.
In Excel, it's not possible to create a Data Model, although PivotTables, QueryTables and Pivot Charts work. Users can't record narrations in PowerPoint.
With OneNote, users can't search embedded audio/video files, record audio/video notes, nor import from an attached scanner, although it's possible to insert audio/video notes and scanned images from another program, according to Microsoft.
To prolong battery life, Microsoft designed Office for Windows RT in a way that reduces the number of times it "wakes up" the CPU, especially when the user isn't actively interacting with the device. The suite also takes advantage of the battery friendly features of the devices' ARM System on a Chip processors.
To use memory efficiently, Office for Windows RT makes conservative use of temporary information caching, releasing them when the system isn't being actively used.
Since most Windows RT tablets will have Solid State Disk drives, which tend not to offer as much storage space as their counterparts in Intel and AMD-based PCs, Microsoft decided to make some templates and clip art available online, and to delete from the drive language packs that the user doesn't configure for use.
Like Windows RT, the Office version for this OS is also aware when the device is connected to the Internet via a cellular network, and supports generating alerts about issues like data limits and roaming costs.
Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.