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New Microsoft Office designed for fingers, styluses, keyboards, and mice

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Social networking also will be highlighted. Users will be able to share documents on Facebook or LinkedIn and instantly connect with contacts on Skype while within the Outlook email program. And Microsoft is turning its SharePoint service into something of its own social network, allowing users to post messages, comment on others’ messages and share links or videos.

The new version of Office includes plenty of new and promising features, said Mike Silver, an analyst at Gartner, a technology research firm. But he added that it may struggle to catch on.

Microsoft is planning to end its support for Windows XP, the still widely used 10-year-old version of the operating system, in less than two years, noted Silver. Organizations that are still running XP are largely focused on moving their computers and users off of it, rather than worrying about upgrading to the latest version of Office, he said.

Spending time to evaluate the new version of the software suite “is time that a lot of organizations just don’t have,” said Silver. Office’s new features “may encourage them to upgrade, but it may not be right away,” he added.

Microsoft declined to say when the new Office will be available or how much it will cost.

The new Office will come in multiple versions and will go by multiple brand names. For example, the online version will maintain its “Office 365” moniker, while the retail version will go by Office 2013. The version of Office that will run on computers using chips designed by ARM won’t include the Outlook email program that’s included in other versions of the software. But at the news conference Monday, company representatives repeatedly referred to the software suits simply as “Office.”

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