Microsoft stops development of touch-friendly Office apps

Touching Microsoft Surface laptop

Microsoft has frozen development of its touch-optimized Office apps. The company stopped developing new features for Windows 10 Mobile last year, and according to The Verge, it has now put its lightweight finger-friendly apps on ice as well.

If you're currently using the lightweight editions of Word, PowerPoint and Excel on your touchscreen device, don't be too alarmed – Microsoft isn't developing new features for them, but it's still supporting them and releasing security updates.

“We are currently prioritizing development for the iOS and Android versions of our apps; and on Windows, we are prioritizing Win32 and web versions of our apps,” a spokesperson said.

Changing priorities

This news – although disappointing – isn't a surprise following Microsoft's announcement earlier this year that it would be cutting back its internal app development teams to focus on making its web browser, Edge, a viable competitor to Chrome and Firefox.

The company is also changing the focus of its Microsoft Store, bulking out its selection of with PWAs (Progressive Web Apps). These are essentially websites that run outside of a browser, and have two major advantages over regular Windows apps.

Firstly, they don't need any platform-specific code, so developers can create just one web app that runs across multiple platforms, and secondly, they are hosted on the developer's own server, so they can be updated directly without a new version being pushed to the app store.

If you want to keep up with the latest Office features, Microsoft recently updated its Office 365 Personal subscription plan to make it a more tempting proposition. You can now install Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook on all your devices – both desktop and mobile – and stay logged into them simultaneously. 

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)