One of the biggest questions surrounding Office 15 right now has to do with just how touch-friendly it will be on ARM devices. We know they aren’t producing a proper Windows 8 Metro App; Microsoft confirmed in an official Building Windows 8 blog post that this is the case, and that we will instead receive a mode of sorts that is “significantly architected” for touch.
ZDNet’s Mary-Jo Foley received a screenshot from a source — likely the same one that supplied The Verge with those Office 15 Technical Preview screenshots — revealing a button that seems to toggle a “touch mode”. According to Mary-Jo’s source, clicking the button in the build as of right now does nothing. It is, of course, an early build, so it’s likely that the touch mode still needs more time in the oven.
That being said, since we don’t know what it does exactly, it’s still hard to determine just how touch-friendly this mode will be. Perhaps, despite not having a proper Metro app, legacy Office will still pack a touch-friendly UI in its pockets, ready to perform metamorphosis on command. I think it’s safe to assume that this mode will be automatically enabled on a Windows on ARM device.
According to MJF’s sources, Microsoft hopes to RTM Office 15 by late 2012. Come the time around the beta, we can likely expect to get a better glimpse of the touch alter-ego in Office 15.