Microsoft unveils new version of Office software

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Kirk Koenigbauer speaks at a Microsoft event in San Francisco.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Kirk Koenigbauer speaks at a Microsoft event in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft Corp. on Monday unveiled a new version of Office, its cash-cow suite of applications. It has been redesigned to take advantage of several of the biggest trends in technology, including touch-based devices, social networking, and cloud computing.

At a press event, Steven Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive officer, demonstrated the new software, describing it as "the most ambitious release of Microsoft Office that we've ever done." Microsoft posted a preview version ( of the new Office, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other applications, on the Web.

Microsoft isn't saying when the new version of Office will go on sale or what the price will be. Those details are to come in the fall.

While Office can run on traditional computers with mice and keyboards, Microsoft also designed the product so that it can be used on touch-screen devices to compose documents, take notes, and work on spreadsheets. It also will allow use of a stylus to enter data.

The programs will store documents online through Microsoft's SkyDrive service by default, meaning users will have to change settings to store documents on their own computer. The programs will also remember settings, including where a user left off in a document, as users change locations. The Internet-based services approach is one Google Inc. has been promoting with its own suite of similar programs.

Microsoft said it has also integrated the Yammer corporate social networking service into the new Office. Microsoft agreed to acquire Yammer in June for $1.2 billion in an effort to better compete with other companies that supply social networking tools for businesses.

Office accounted for nearly 60 percent of Microsoft's operating profits in its most recent quarter.