Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has unveiled customer preview of Office 15 and made it available for download. Office 15 is the next version of Office and will be launched in 2013. Office 15 embodies all that Microsoft is focusing on with Windows 8. It has been optimized for touch-based usage and includes social integration.
With Office 15, Microsoft is also focusing more on Office 365, the cloud-based version of its productivity suite. Microsoft Office competes primarily with Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Docs, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iWork and open-source alternatives like Open Office and Libre Office. Office 15 is one of Microsoft’s most ambitious undertakings to date and ties everything together – the cloud and the mobile versions – and adds a social layer on top enabled by Skype and Yammer, two of its recent acquisitions. 
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Office 15 comes with full-touch support, which makes it fully compatible with Windows 8 devices including tablets and notebooks. It also offers stylus support for more detailed and precise input capabilities. It will be bundled with all Windows RT devices.
Office 15 comes integrated with SkyDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage solution, and enables users to carry their files and settings around with personalized sign-ins powered by SkyDrive.
Office on Demand enables users to access Office apps over the Internet, presumably powered by Office 365. Office will also be sold as a subscription-based service, which will bundle Office 365, Skype, SkyDrive and other cloud-based services in a single package.
Microsoft is also trying to make the Office experience as social as possible to compete with the likes of Salesforce.com and Google Docs. It will be integrated with Yammer and SharePoint, and will include information and details from Facebook and LinkedIn. Additional collaboration features will be enabled through the Skype integration.
We expect Office 365 to be one of Microsoft’s most crucial releases. Along with Windows 8, which launches later this year, Office 15 could seal Microsoft’s long-term fate in coming quarters.
Office is Microsoft’s most valuable business, and accounts for nearly 35% of its overall value. We currently have a $40 Trefis price estimate for Microsoft, which stands nearly 30% above its current market price.Notes: