But the "Metro-ization" of Office won't kill the desktop versions of the suite, Helm continued. "Absolutely, the desktop Office will continue for Intel-based systems," he said. "Microsoft isn't walking away from that. Think of Office as desktop plus tablets with Metro."
Helm expects that the next desktop Office will look similar to Office 2010.
Microsoft has said nothing about a release timetable, the design or features slated for the next-generation Office, but if the company follows past practice, it could ship a new version in 2012 alongside Windows 8 -- as it did with Office 2007 and Windows 7 -- or in 2013, three years after the debut of Office 2010.
Talk of metro-izing Office isn't coming out of the blue. In March, several websites, including WinRumors , published screenshots allegedly from an early build of Office that showed Metro elements in Outlook, the suite's email client.
On Wednesday, Ballmer said that Microsoft would give out more information on a Metro-style Office only when it's ready.
"When we have something that we want to talk about, we will," Ballmer said.
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