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Monday Microsoft announced the newest version of the company’s popular suite of Office software: Office 15.

“We are taking bold steps at Microsoft,” Ballmer said at the press conference in San Francisco. “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.”

Some of the new features of Office 15 include:

  • A new Metro interface is now touch-friendly, allowing you tap on your screen to make selections, as well as pinch and zoom to read documents and presentations.
  • The People Card, similar to that in Windows Phone, includes pictures, status updates, contact information and activity feeds from Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.
  • A cloud-based subscription service is tied to you rather than your computer. As updates are released during your subscription period, you’ll get them for free. Heavily tied to the cloud, Office saves documents by default to the cloud, allowing you to access your content while on the go on other devices such as your tablet and phone.

Office 15 will be included on ARM-based Windows 8 devices, including Microsoft’s self-branded Surface tablet. It will also be available as a standalone product, with pricing and availability yet to be announced.

The new Office comes in different flavors:

  • Office 365 Home Premium — designed for families and consumers. This service also includes an additional 20 GB of SkyDrive storage and 60 minutes of Skype world minutes per month.
  • Office 365 Small Business Premium — designed for small businesses. This service also includes business-grade email, shared calendars, website tools and HD web conferencing.
  • Office 365 ProPlus — designed for enterprise customers who want advanced business capabilities and the flexibility to deploy and manage in the cloud.

Office 15 will only work on Windows 7 and Windows 8, not on Windows XP or Windows Vista PCs.

Microsoft’s largest revenue source is from its business products, which includes Microsoft Office, with a market share of around 94%. Competing products have come along over the years, but none has managed to knock Microsoft off its perch.

A survey done by Mashable shows that in a popularity contest between Google Docs and Microsoft Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office wins.

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