Whether talking about the constellation in the night sky or the sign of the zodiac, the word "Gemini" is synonymous with twins. It's no coincidence that Gemini is reportedly the code name for an upcoming Microsoft Office build that could be the twin project to Windows Blue. Together, the two efforts represent a complete shift in the way Microsoft develops and rolls out software.
According to Mary Jo Foley, a respected authority on Microsoft with reliable inside sources, Gemini will be released initially this fall alongside Windows Blue, with new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.
For Office, Gemini could have multiple meanings. It could even be an altogether new Microsoft Office suite, a fraternal twin to the existing Office 2013. Perhaps instead of replacing Office 2013, Gemini will be a suite of Office MX apps designed for the Windows 8 Modern interface, following in the style of the current OneNote MX.
What does Microsoft have in store for Office Gemini? Here are four things Redmond should consider:
1. 'Office MX'
The leaked Windows Blue code indicates that Microsoft has no intention of backsliding on its commitment to its Modern interface, and supports the theory that the desktop mode will fade away over time. With that in mind, expect Gemini to be built to run in the Windows 8 Modern interface rather than switching to desktop mode.
Microsoft Office runs on Windows 8, but in desktop mode as opposed to as a native Windows 8 app. It makes sense for Office Gemini to be designed for Windows 8 in the style of OneNote MX, built primarily for touch input within the Windows 8 Modern UI.
Bringing all of the core tools from Microsoft Office to the Modern UI is significant and necessary to get businesses and consumers to switch and start spending more time in the new interface, rather than just skipping over Windows 8's Modern screen in order to essentially run Windows 7 in desktop mode.
2. 'Outlook MX'
According to Mary Jo Foley's sources, Gemini lacks Outlook. That would be a mistake. Outlook should be included in Gemini, as it's a crucial part of Microsoft Office, particularly for businesses. The core functions of Outlook--email, calendar, and contacts--are handled in Windows 8 by its Mail, Calendar, and People apps. Those apps have their strengths, but they don't integrate as fully with Exchange or work as seamlessly as Outlook does.
3. Radial menu
The radial formatting menu in OneNote MX is genius. Microsoft took all of the formatting and features you'd normally find in a menu bar, and put them all under a single button. When you tap the button, it becomes a circle with different options to choose from and drill down into.
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