Perhaps the most interesting and tantalizing (yes, I am using this word for Office!) aspect of the press conference was the seamlessness of the user experience across devices, input mode (touch, stylus, mouse, and keyboard), media, software programs, web-based conferencing, and with easy user interfaces that are dynamic and visually appealing. Yes, this is "The Modern Office" and Microsoft, running on the slew of Windows 8 supporting devices, are re-engaging the fight with Apple for coolness and ease, or at least that is what it felt like while watching today's press conference.
As Ballmer underscored, Office 15, is a "no compromise" experience to run MS Office on all of your devices. He elaborated that The Modern Office on Windows 8 is a fluid user interface with the ability to switch from touch to mouse or stylus modes: "We had a lot of work to do to get the cost down, but it transforms the way your work. […] I have everything roaming through the cloud with me … it is almost a visceral response you have when you see the new generation of Office working in these new ways and in these new scenarios."
This new, dynamic user experience for Office 15 is exactly what Microsoft and the device OEMs are hoping will recharge demand. There is no hiding the intent to create an "over-the-shoulder" jealousy moment in which users will see others working in The Modern Office, and will want to have that same experience. For semi, there's no doubt that today's announcement holds great anticipation. This is a very sleek and well architected experience that intelligently meshes the latest software and hardware into a fluid and smart device canvas for users. Just as the rumors were beginning to build that Windows 8 might not provide the refresh momentum that is typically hoped for by the hardware and software industry alike, Microsoft upped the ante and just gave business and home users compelling reasons to adopt new devices, the new Windows 8, leverage cloud computing, and to be ready for Office 15.
With Windows 8 due out in October, and Office 15 due out sometime after, most likely in early 2013, the 2H12 market demand cycle may have just received a nice boost for new device sales, whether smartphones, tablet PCs, Ultrabooks, laptops, or desktops. Time will still tell, but if today's presentation delivers as promised, the hottest device markets will not abate anytime soon. Ballmer energetically characterized the design and development process for Office 2013 as "the most exciting, fun, productive year, that any of us have had."