What Office for Windows RT won't deliver

Due by February, Office 2013 for RT tablets will omit macros, some email capabilities, data models, and support for some older media types

Microsoft has revealed what Office capabilities won't be included in the Windows RT version of the office 2013 suite. Windows RT is a version of Windows 8 that runs on devices (mainly tablets) that use ARM processors rather than Intel processors. Windows RT provides the Metro portion of Windows 8 and a custom version of Office 2013; it does not run standard Windows software.

Microsoft expects Windows Office RT to ship by February, but Windows RT PCs that begin shipping in October will have a preview version of Office Home & Student 2013 RT that will be replaced via download with a full version via Windows Update download once the version for the user's language becomes available. Depending on the language version, final Office RT downloads could become available as soon as November, with all becoming available by February.

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Office RT will include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, and has been designed to provide what Microsoft calls "a complete Office experience" while also being optimized for tablet touchscreens and low battery consumption. This version of the productivity suite was built from the same code base as the versions of Office for PCs running x86 and x64 chips from Intel and AMD, so it includes "the vast majority" of the features available in Office Home & Student 2013 for PCs, according to Microsoft.

Absent features include macros, add-ins, and features that rely on ActiveX controls or third-party code, as well as legacy features such as the ability to play older media formats in PowerPoint RT and edit equations written in Equation Editor 3.0, used in older versions of Office.

Also not included are some email sending features, because Windows RT doesn't use Outlook or other desktop mail applications. Users can send Office content with the OS's native mail application.

In Excel RT, it's not possible to create a data model, although pivot tables, query tables and pivot charts work. Users can't record narrations in PowerPoint RT.

With OneNote RT, users can't search embedded audio/video files, record audio/video notes, nor import from an attached scanner, although it's possible to insert audio/video notes and scanned images from another program, according to Microsoft.

To prolong battery life, Microsoft designed Office for Windows RT in a way that reduces the number of times it "wakes up" the CPU, especially when the user isn't actively interacting with the device. The suite also takes advantage of the battery friendly features of the devices' ARM System on a Chip processors.

To use memory efficiently, Office for Windows RT makes conservative use of temporary information caching, releasing them when the system isn't being actively used.

Because most Windows RT tablets will have solid state disk (SSD) drives, which tend not to offer as much storage space as their counterparts in Intel and AMD-based PCs, Microsoft decided to make some templates and clip art available online and to delete from the drive language packs that the user doesn't configure for use.

Like Windows RT and Windows 8, Office RT is also aware when the device is connected to the Internet via a cellular network, and supports generating alerts about issues like data limits and roaming costs.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for the IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.