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We are a week out from the release of Office 2016, which promises to bring more cloud integration than ever. Twenty five years ago however, users could only dream of features such as online collaboration, office messaging, and more. Despite lacking many of the advanced features we see today however, Office has always been a powerful productivity suite.

If you have ever looked at an .xlsx spreadsheet or opened a .docx file, you probably did so using the appropriate Office application at least once. Though many alternatives can be used, Office still remains one of the most popular online and offline solutions. Today, we dive into the history of Redmond’s long-running productivity suite.

Microsoft Office 1.0

November 19, 1990

New Programs  
  • Word 1.1
  • Excel 2.0
  • PowerPoint 2.0

The first ever release for Windows. Why weren’t they all 1.0 versions? Because Microsoft synchronized the Windows version numbers with the Mac version numbers. Excel was originally released for the Macintosh as Multiplan in 1982. PowerPoint was initially released on the Mac as Presenter by Forethought, Inc. and purchased by Microsoft for $14 million.

Microsoft Office 3.0

August 30, 1995

New Programs  
  • Mail

Originally released as Office 3.0, it was later rebranded as Office 92 for the CD-ROM release. Because Microsoft decided to skip Office 2.0, it was the second major release. Mail was an e-mail client that was eventually replaced by Outlook.

Microsoft Office 4.3

June 2, 1994

New Programs  
  • Access 2.0 (Pro only)

Editions: Standard and Professional

Office 4.3 was the last 16-bit version and also the last to support the Windows 3.xx operating system. At this point, every program included in the Office suite still had different version numbers. For example, Word was at version 6.0 while Excel was at 5.0 and PowerPoint was at 4.0. After Office 4.3, every program within the Office suite would share the same version number.

A separate version for Windows NT called Office for NT 4.2 was released a month later. It included Microsoft Office Manager, which was the precursor to the Office Shortcut Bar.

Microsoft Office 95


August 30, 1995

New Programs  
  • Schedule+ 7.0
  • Binder 7.0
  • Bookshelf 7.0 (CD-ROM only)

Editions: Standard and Professional

Developed for Windows 95, the upgrade to 32 bits allowed for increased performance and richer visuals. Because of that upgrade, Office 95 could not be installed onto Windows 3.xx, which was 16 bit. One upgrade that many users enjoyed was the addition of the Office Shortcut Bar (Previously available with Office for NT 4.2 as Office Manager), which served as a second taskbar for your operating system specifically for Office programs.

A full installation of Office 95 required 88 MB of disk space, which is a far cry from the 4.5 GB required today. Excel 95 included a Doom-like game where you could see the developers’ picture as an Easter egg, titled Hall of Tortured Souls.

Microsoft Office 97


December 30, 1997

New Programs Removed Programs
  • Outlook 97
  • Outlook 98
  • Publisher 97
  • Publisher 98
  • Photo Editor 3.0
  • Small Business Financial Manager 98
  • Developer Tools and SDK
  • Schedule+ 7.0
  • Binder 7.0
  • Bookshelf 7.0

Editions: Standard, Small Business, Small Business 2.0, Professional, and Developer

Office 97 greatly increased the amount of included software and the number of bundles available. While previously there were two editions, Office 97 had five: Standard, Professional, Small Business, Small Business 2.0, and Developer. At the core were still Word and Excel, with Outlook being a new addition. PowerPoint was unavailable with the Small Business editions. The Shortcut Bar returned from Office 95, but it would be removed from future versions of Office. The much maligned Office Assistant (AKA Clippy) made its debut in Office 97.

Office 97 was available on a single CD-ROM or as 44 3 ½ (1.44MB) floppy disks. It received two service pack updates, with end of support in 2002.

Microsoft Office 2000


June 7, 1999

New Programs Removed Programs
  • Small Business Tools
  • PhotoDraw 2000
  • FrontPage 2000
  • Small Business Financial Manager 98
  • Photo Editor 3.0

Editions: Standard, Small Business, Professional, Premium, and Developer

Containing more programs than ever across five editions, Office 2000 was the last version to support Windows 95. It was not susceptible to the Y2K bug and had three service packs issued through its support history. All editions came with Word, Excel, and Outlook. PowerPoint came with four of the five editions, missing only from Small Business.

There were four programs that fell under the Office umbrella but were not included in any of the editions. There were Visio 2000, Project 2000, MapPoint 2000, and Vizact 2000.

Microsoft Office XP


May 31, 2001

New Programs Removed Programs
  • SharePoint Team Services
  • Small Business Tools
  • PhotoDraw

Editions: Home, Standard, Standard (Upgrade only), Office Plus!, Small Business, Professional, Professional Special (Upgrade only), Professional with Publisher, Professional with FrontPage, and Developer

The number of editions expanded yet again with Office XP, which now offered either full or upgrade packages. Word, Excel, and Outlook still made up the core package across all editions. It included Office Assistant, though it was no longer enabled by default. Despite being branded as XP, it did not require Windows XP to be installed. It would be a good thing, as Windows XP was not launched until August of that year.

Microsoft Office 2003


November 17, 2003

New Programs Removed Programs
  • InfoPath (Only available on volume edition of Professional)
  • SharePoint Team Services
  • Developer Tools and SDK
  • FrontPage 2003 (Sold separately)

Editions: Basic, Student and Teacher, Standard, Small Business, Professional

Thankfully, the number of different editions was scaled down from Office 2000. Office 2003 supported only NT-based operating systems such as Windows XP or Windows 2000. Non-NT operating systems such as Windows 98 or Windows ME were not supported. Visually, it was more interesting because it introduced XP-style icons.

Two important programs introduced in this generation were InfoPath and OneNote, though OneNote was not included in any edition and InfoPath was only included in volume editions of Professional. FrontPage, Visio, and Project were not included in any edition of Office and were only available separately.

Microsoft Office 2007


January 30, 2007

New Programs
  • Accounting Express
  • Groove
  • Communicator
  • Enterprise Content Manager

Editions: Basic, Home and Student, Standard, Small Business, Professional, Professional Plus, Ultimate, Enterprise

Office 2007 featured more editions, but across a wider price range as to make it more affordable for more users. The core package now included PointPoint once again in addition to Outlook. It introduced Office Groove, which was later renamed to SharePoint Workspace and replaced by OneDrive. For businesses, the Office Customization tool allowed for customized installations of Office to be deployed by replacing the default install wizard.

This version of Office introduced the Office ribbon, officially named the Fluent User Interface, which received mixed reviews from users. It removed some of the customizability of the sold menu system, but at the same time was more efficient and intuitive. From Office 95 to Office 2003, the user interface had more or less stayed the same. One of the most important changes however, was it that introduced the Office Open XML formats: xlsx, docx, pptx, and more.

Microsoft Office 2010


June 15, 2010

New Programs
  • SharePoint Workspace (Formerly Groove)
  • SharePoint Designer
  • Lync (Formerly Communicator)

Editions: Starter, Office Online, Personal, Home and Student, Home and Business, Standard, Professional, Professional Plus

This version of Office featured many visual tweaks, such as the removal of the Office button—though the Ribbon-style interface stayed. There were a number of new programs, such as the office communication tool Lync. Groove was renamed to SharePoint Workspace. Again, there were many different editions to cater to as wide an audience as possible.

Office Web Apps made their debut with Office 2010. They are free web versions designed to work in internet browsers and function similar to their offline versions.

Microsoft Office 2013


January 29, 2013

Removed Programs
  •  SharePoint Designer (Sold separately)

Editions: Office RT, Home & Student, Home & Business, Standard, Professional, Professional Plus, and more

There are 12 different editions for Office 2013, including the ones listed above. Office 2013 introduced the Office 365 program, which provides subscribers with access to the latest version of Office programs under a pricing plan. Compared to previous versions of Office, 2013 relies much more on cloud integration. For example, users can save directly to their OneDrive accounts from within a program rather than having to save to their physical drives and then upload.

Remove features include SharePoint Workspace, basic offline help documentation, and various other changes to individual programs. Visually, the ribbon and animations look flatter compared to Office 2010.

Microsoft Office 2016

September 22, 2015

Continuing the trend started by Office 2013, this newest update promises even greater cloud integration. In terms of visuals, Office 2016’s user interface will remain relatively unchanged from Office 2013, with the flat-looking ribbon and animations returning.

Here’s what we know so far in regards to Office 2016.

  • It is designed to work with Windows 10.
  • There will be a Home & Student edition.
  • It will be free to smartphone and tablet users.
  • It will be more touchscreen-friendly.
  • There is an Insights feature in Word that allows you to look up selected text with Bing.

If you are interested in previewing Office 2016, Microsoft has offered the 32-bit version for download.

In the meantime, what are you most looking forward to in the new version? Let us know in the comments.

Microsoft Office through the Years - HardBoiled
Article Name
Microsoft Office through the Years - HardBoiled
We take a look at Microsoft Office through the years, examining what has been added and what has been removed. We also see what's new with Office 2016.
Wallace Chu

Author Wallace Chu

A self-professed tech hipster that loves computers and music. Uses an iPhone ironically.

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