Universal Office Apps Available on Windows 10 Preview

Microsoft's next-generation, device-independent Office apps are now available to download by users of the Windows 10 Technical Preview.

Windows 10

Windows 10 testers have a new perk, Microsoft announced this week. Universal Office Apps are available to participants of the Windows Insider early access program.

Select universal Office apps are now available for download, announced Microsoft spokesperson Brandon LeBlanc in a Feb. 4 blog post. "Today, Office is making available their Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps for PCs and tablets running the latest build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview," he announced.

"If you're already on the Windows 10 Technical Preview, just search for them in the Windows Store Beta (the grey tile in the Start menu or on the taskbar)," instructed LeBlanc. Universal versions of Outlook and OneNote are also planned for Windows 10.

Some users who jumped on the news ran into problems obtaining the software, acknowledged Microsoft in a Feb. 4 update. "We're seeing some reports of issues accessing and downloading the apps. The team is working on a fix now. Please check back later," read a notice posted on the Office Blogs.

The current apps are aimed at PCs, laptops and tablets, revealed Julia White, general manager of Microsoft's Office Product Management team, in a statement. "In the coming weeks, we'll open up our preview for the same apps on phones and tablets running Windows 10," she said.

On Jan. 21, top Microsoft executives gathered for a Windows 10 press event at the company's Redmond, Wash., headquarters. Nestled among several demos of the operating system and a handful of surprise reveals, including Microsoft's Windows 10-powered HoloLens wearable headset, the company announced that it was readying universal Office apps. (The Office 2016 desktop suite is also in the works.)

"Office universal apps on Windows 10 offer a consistent, touch-first experience across phone, tablet and PC with new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook," stated Terry Myerson, head of Microsoft's Operating Systems group, in a statement at the time. "Designed from the ground up to run on Windows, you can easily create and edit Word documents, annotate slides in real-time with new inking features or easily present PowerPoint presentations, and with new touch-first controls in Excel you can create or update spreadsheets without a keyboard or mouse."

The new Office apps exemplify Microsoft's push toward a unified Windows software ecosystem. Beginning with last spring's release candidate (RC) of Visual Studio 2013 Update 2, developers can now code their apps once and target multiple Windows-powered devices, including smartphones, tablets, PCs and even the upcoming Surface Hub, Microsoft's massive whiteboard and video conferencing hardware solution that sports an 84-inch, 4K touch-screen display.

Universal office apps will be bundled with Windows 10 smartphones and mini-tablets (sub-8-inch), according to White. "These new Office apps will be preinstalled for free on phones and small tablets running Windows 10, and available to download from the Windows Store for other devices," she said in a Jan. 22 statement.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...