SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft unveiled a new version of its widely used, lucrative suite of word processing, spreadsheet and email programs, one designed for tablet computers and Internet-based storage in mind.
Similar to an upcoming redesign of Microsoft’s Windows operating system, the new Office suite will respond to touch as well as commands delivered on a computer keyboard or mouse.
The addition of touch-based controls will enable Office to extend its franchise into the rapidly growing tablet market. Apple dominates that market with the iPad.
“This is the most ambitious release of Office that we have ever done,” CEO Steve Ballmer said.
A preview version of the new suite is available online at http://office.com/preview. A release date and price will be announced this fall.
Features in the new Office include:
•Inkling, which lets you use a stylus to write on a device’s screen. Handwritten notes are converted automatically to text.
•Integration with Yammer, a social network for businesses, and with Skype, a video chat service.
•Bing Maps will be part of the new Outlook email program. If there’s an address in an email, just tap on it to get directions.
•A “reading” mode on Word will make it easier to read word-processing documents on a tablet or e-reader. That mode will make the document look more like a book page.
You can also embed video into Word documents, or share a document directly on Facebook.