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Microsoft digs into 'natural interaction' technologies for touch-first Office

The company is looking at digital ink, voice commands, gestures and immersive capabilities to play a big role in that Office edition

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As it works on its much-anticipated version of Office for touch interfaces, Microsoft envisions building on what it calls "natural interaction" technologies like digital ink and voice recognition, according to a company official.

Today users can take notes and add comments on OneNote or a PowerPoint slide using a touch-enabled device with digital ink, and they can tap into speech recognition capabilities in Exchange to read transcripts of voice mail messages.

But Microsoft wants to go deeper into those technologies and others like gestures and large-scale immersive displays, said Sanjay Manchanda, Office product marketing director, in a presentation at the Microsoft Dynamics Convergence 2014 conference.

"It's not just about consumption. We think of productivity as the ability to create content, take action, and to do that you need other modes of natural interaction that can come into play: voice-activated commands and gestures are going to play a big role as we look at how productivity tools will evolve," he said.

"You'll see more from Microsoft working to deliver on those," he added.

Microsoft has been very tight-lipped about this "touch first" edition of Microsoft, which some critics feel is way overdue, given the massive popularity of iPads and Android tablets for personal and work use. Manchanda's comments offer a bit of insight into how Office for touch interfaces will be different from the traditional version designed to be used with a mouse and keyboard.

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.



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