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Microsoft previews Office for Windows 10 phones and small tablets

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Microsoft previewed its work on Office for Windows 10 today, giving a first look at how the productivity suite will look on phones and small tablets. It's a significant departure from what Word, Powerpoint, and Excel currently look like on Windows Phone — but that's actually a good thing. The new apps look a lot more like their desktop counterparts, just streamlined to make more sense for a small, touchscreen device. "They're going to deliver a consistent, highly rich, and complete Office experience," Microsoft's Joe Belfiore said. His demo of the new apps was brief, but the emphasis was on these being fully capable counterparts to Office on the desktop.

Office will be included "in box" with Windows 10

This new version of Office is going to be included on Windows 10 for phones and small tablets. Microsoft has increasingly been making Office free to use — that's true of its Office suites on iOS and Android as well — so it's nice but unsurprising to see that continue here, too. That's also why this update has been a long time coming: Microsoft has had smart new versions of Office available on iOS and Android for a little while now, while Windows users have been left hanging. Obviously, the wait continues until this is actually released, but it sounds like the wait is almost over.

As for Office on the desktop, Microsoft previewed a version of Office that's been redesigned for large touchscreens last April. It didn't provide an update on that today, but it sounds as though it will be included with Windows 10 on desktops and large touchscreen devices as part of one big universal app. That too has been long awaited. Despite Microsoft's focus on touchscreens for the last few years, only now is it starting to bring out versions of Office that are specifically designed for touch. Getting these new versions out there will be a big deal for Microsoft: it'll mean that its productivity suite can finally be used productively on new devices.

Check out our Windows 10 event live blog for more!