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Will I be able to run Office 2012? – thoughts on Outlook 15 and minimum requirements –

Tags: new Outlook · next office version · office 2012 minimum requirements · outlook 15 system requirements

My, time sure flies doesn’t it? It seems like only last month we were preparing for Outlook 2010 and both its new goodies (and quirks), and now we’re already looking at leaked versions of Microsoft’s newest implementation, Office 15 (or 2012). This week we’ll try to make some guesses about what the new version of Outlook will bring to the table and how it will change our work style.

First of all, let me begin by restating that I’m “guesstimating” here, since no official info regarding compatibility, availability and so on has been issued by Microsoft.*

*There was, however, a post on Chris Green’s MSDN blog which put the release date of RTM Office 2012 for Monday, July 2, 2012.Then again, Office 2012 should launch a year after Windows 8, which is yet to be available.

Earlier this year a Russian site ( got its hands on build 15.0.2703.1000 (Milestone 2) and tested it out a little – even with the frequent crashes (it was a pre-alpha version after all), they were pleasantly surprised by the new version and especially by Outlook 2012. But first…

Minimum System Requirements for Office 15 (Outlook 2012)

As you may know, Microsoft has dropped support for the mainstream versions of Windows XP as of 2009 (extended support still exists up until 2014 – [source]), so now you’re left with either a Vista installation (ugh!) or the choice OS of the moment, ever on the red carpet, Windows 7. All 3 come in both 32-bit and 64-bit flavors, for all your computing requirements. With this in mind, I believe that Office 2012 will still be supported under XP – there are quite a few users that are using this OS and it would be bad business for Microsoft to just disregard so many loyal customers (PCs were still sold with XP preinstalled about an year ago – [source]). Office 2012 will surely be available on the 32-bit platform, since a 64-bit/128-bit exclusive OS will not exist until Windows 9.

Now, if you’re wondering about the minimum hardware requirements, then I’ve got some good news! If your PC can run Office 2010 (or 2007 for that matter, since their requirements are the same – [source]), then you’re all set for the newer version!

Keep in mind that as we speak, Microsoft is busy developing Windows 8, which alongside a new (or rather, improved) User Interface (the so-called Metro UI), will include many new and exciting additions and bridge the gap between mobile and desktop versions of its OS – all these on the same requirements that are currently in use for Win 7. I want to stress that when dealing with MS products, there are two types of computers:

  1. Older PCs, with 500-1000 MHz CPUs, 256/512/1024 Mb of RAM memory, hard-drives of around 20 Gb that run Windows XP;
  2. Newer PCs, with at least 1000 MHz CPUs, 1024 Mb or more RAM and larger hard-drives (40 Gb and up) that run Windows 7.


So, as long as Office 2012 (and respectively, Word, Excel, Outlook and so on) will be able to run under XP, it will have to make do with:

CPU: at least 500 MHz;

RAM memory: 256/512;

HDD space: 3,5 Gb;

OS: Windows XP (32-bit and 64-bit), Windows Vista (32-bit and 64-bit), Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit), Windows 8 (32-bit and 64-bit) and all versions of Windows Server up to 2003 (32-bit and 64-bit).


Of course, just as with Office 2010, if you have only 256 Mb of RAM memory you won’t be able to use Outlook Instant Search, for grammar and contextual spelling you will need at least 1 Gb of RAM and a dedicated graphics card with at least 64 Mb of memory for the “pretty graphics”.

Worst case scenario: the minimum RAM requirement gets bumped to 512 Mb and hard-drive space is increased by a few hundred megabytes (maybe reaching 4 Gb).Of course, this all depends on compatibility with XP – even worse scenario: if it’s dropped then we’ll be looking at much higher requirements.

What will Office 2012 (and especially Outlook 2012/Outlook 15) bring to the table?

One of the most visible changes is its redesigned look. Notice I didn’t say UI? That’s because the change from Office 2010 to 2012 will be relatively painless, unlike the one from 2003 to 2007, and even more so, from 2003 straight to 2010. If you’ve ever worked with Office 2010 then you’ll be glad to know all the buttons are where you expect them to be and all the options and menus are relatively the same. What is changed, though, is the visual appearance, Microsoft deciding to standardize to Metro UI, dropping all the glassy-glossy effects from Vista and 7 and adopting a “flatter”, matte look and different window transition effects (here’s a sneak peek at Word 2012 – YouTube). Is this better? Well, it depends on personal taste – I find it refreshing, but if you’ve never been bothered by transparencies you’ll barely notice it.

Regarding the UI, while the look and feel remains basically the same (so no more disgruntled users that can’t find the features they’re looking for), Metro UI will allow for dynamic application interfaces. This basically means that you will be able to change the layout easily to better suit your tastes, all the while allowing applications to update their presented features based on what you’re doing at one time or another (you will be able to create highly customized interfaces, suited to your exact needs).

At the beginning I stated that the Russian reviewer was pleased with the new version of Outlook. That is because, for the time being, Outlook has received the most changes – for example: better access to email, calendar and contacts. If you’re constantly dealing with schedules and tasks, then note that this interface also received a significant upgrade, both in user-friendliness and control options.

The new Office 2012 will include:

  1. Microsoft Word 2012
  2. Microsoft Excel 2012
  3. Microsoft Outlook 2012
  4. Microsoft PowerPoint 2012
  5. Microsoft OneNote 2012
  6. Microsoft Access 2012
  7. Microsoft InfoPath 2012
  8. Microsoft Publisher 2012
  9. Microsoft Project 2012
  10. Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2012
  11. Microsoft SharePoint Workspace 2012
  12. Microsoft Visio 2012

Even with its host of quirks and critics, Microsoft Office is the standard business toolset and also a mature, well developed and indispensable companion. It’s now over 15 years from its launch, so you won’t find many mind-blowing changes in the next version – after all, once it was done right (2003) changes were minimal and consisted more in visual tweaks than hardcore revisions (that’s why 2003 is still actively used today). Even so, I’m anxious to see how Office 2012 will be received, what aces Microsoft has up its sleeve and also how the migration to cloud-based computing (and Office Live) will be dealt with.

If you have any inside tips, questions or suggestions then please leave a comment or send an email to – we’re always glad to receive feedback from our readers! Also, if you would like to make your dealings with Outlook easier and more efficient just have a look at one of our Outlook add-ins here – we’re sure you’ll find something to your liking!

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1 comment

  • FN · November 28, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Great to know that I won’t have to change my PC to run Office 2012.

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