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Microsoft appears to be mulling a dedicated Office key for keyboards

Laptop with Office 365

Laptop with Office 365 (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft may be mulling adding support for a dedicated Office key on keyboards.
  • The key would operate much like the Windows key does today, offering shortcuts and key combinations for Office apps.
  • The concept was spotted in a survey form asking users for feedback related to the Office key.

Keyboards have had a dedicated Windows key for decades, and now it looks like Microsoft is at least considering adding one for Office. In a feedback form spotted by prolific Microsoft leaker WalkingCat, Microsoft is soliciting responses from users who have experimented with keyboards that have an Office key. The form even includes a concept image of what the key may look like if it ever sees the light of day outside of Microsoft.

It's likely this is part of an internal test at Microsoft, and the form gives us only a little bit of insight into the key's functions. The first question asks if users have tried a keyboard with an Office key with the Windows 10 May 2019 Update before moving on to ask if they have tried each shortcut available (Office key + O, T, W, X, P, D, N, Y, and L). We have no clue as to what each shortcut does, but the form asks for input on what additional shortcuts should be considered, such as an "Office key + S" shortcut that would share a document.

Finally, the form finishes things off by asking whether users would like to see a dedicated Office key make its way to laptops as well.

That's not much to go off of at the moment, but it's an interesting idea. Office is one of the most widely used software suites out there, so it wouldn't be a complete surprise to see it get its own key and shortcuts. However, it would require keyboards and laptop makers to dedicate more space to yet another key.

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Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to daniel.thorp-lancaster@futurenet.com.

29 Comments
  • Oh goodie, another dedicated key that I will never use.
  • Come on, I still use my Windows key daily, although it is just the left one. I can't see hitting an Office button though.
  • I don't, but then again I also never use the start menu, so that's probably why.
  • The funny part is I just hit it to start typing my app.
  • Same here, I don't look in folder for anything anymore. Just hit the windows key and start typing.
  • Not going to lie, I had no idea the windows key activated the search bar, as it brings up the start menu when I press it, which I always thought was seperate from the search box. Consider me a convert.
  • The Windows key has many functions beyond simply opening up the Start menu.
  • I use Windows+L multiple times per day to lock my work station, Windows +Q is awesome for searching, Windows+R when launching many things. Not sure why you don't use the windows key. An office key seems excessive though. I'd never use it to launch an office program and I can't think of anything else it's used for.
  • I use win, menu, ctrl, alt, win, shift, pgDn, pdUp, home, end, 2 keys combined, 3 keys combined, 4 keys combined...
    Except Unreal, Adobe stuffs, it allows me to operate Windows, Office, File Explorer, Edge, Visual Studio, etc without a pointing device. More efficient this way tbh. btw, I wish swiftkey can support ctrl, alt shift bases swipe typping / shortcuts...
  • Not going to lie, I never really considered the likes of ctrl, alt etc as "dedicated" keys, even though they clearly are. I also never really considered the benefits of Windows key shortcuts, that's my bad.
  • Well, most people described my "skills" as magic. Things keeps happening onscreen but no one know how I I did it.
    Esp when I sometimes need to "region type / copy / cut / paste". e.g. type aple and hit space. How do you auto-correct it?
    1. drag you mouse all the way across the screen then click, move, click, move click?
    2. left, menu, enter. I can prob write a book tbh...
  • I think it would make sense to make another modifier key rather then a dedicated office one. I dont want a key on my keyboard that just works for office. The current Windows key makes sense, since its essentially an OS key, and allows you to access OS features no matter what app is open.
  • Presumably Office key + O, W, X, and P are for Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. D might be Delve, T might be Teams, N might be OneNote, Y might be Yammer and L might be Lens. Publisher, Access and a few others out in the cold by default.
  • I think D could be OneDrive. I don't think L is Lens (make little sense for PC / Keyboard), maybe something new, or something like a launcher.
    Considering the WXP combination, I agree at least most of them should be the shortcut to open Office app.
  • This could very well be a touch keyboard key as well as a physical one. It is much easier to edit the keyboard layout when it's not tied to a choice. If this is a touch keyboard, then the using is free to switch to and from it. That said, I could personally use such a key for at least OneNote, OneDrive, Word and Excel.
    That would save me 4-5 seconds of hitting the Windows- + S key, type out one of the above and hit Enter.
  • I don't know if you are aware of this, but you can also set your own shortcut keys. Go to properties for the exe file and there is a shortcut path. Add a letter there (say W for Word), and you can then use Ctrl+Alt+Letter to launch the program. Added bonus is it can be used with most programs, not just Microsoft ones (IIRC).
  • I wasn't aware of this. However, I just tried this with Word, and it looks like you have to add the executable as a shortcut first. If you use the source, there is no tab named "shortcut" ¹ :) ¹ Source: https://tek.io/2vPomRY (seach for "Right click") Thank you! ヾ(•ω•`)o
  • I remember sometime ago they looked at an office menu, we ended up with the PeopleHub instead but I think the idea had merit. It's particularly interesting if you work in a BYOD environment. I use a single machine for business and pleasure and would actually like a dedicated menu I could access all my teams contact, project files from. In that scenario I can see the purpose of an Office key.
  • Check out the office app it's like and office 365 hub on your PC. I think that's what the office hub on the taskbar finally morphed into.
  • Need an emoji key not an office key
  • win + . = emoji key
  • lol, totally never knew that. I will use this just because (until I forget about it next week)
  • I'm fine with this, but I'd prioritize getting back the menu key on all laptop keyboards. I use that constantly when editing text, but many laptops have dropped it to save space. You can duplicate the function with Shift-F10, but that's a lot slower than just hitting the key next to right Ctrl.
  • I'm with you on this one. Raise your hand, grab the mouse, drag the cursor from across the screen to perform a right click? Menu key is a lotta closer to reach when you are typing.
  • And, as expected, they don't want to hear from consumers...you can only login to comment if you're an enterprise user. I'll vote this stupid idea down HARD.
  • To be fair, the standard user is a whiney little B.
  • Unless they make Office come preinstalled in all their OS variants they shouldn't put it on there. Perhaps what they could consider is a e-ink button that would grab the favicon of whatever application or program you decided to...program for that button. 🤷‍♂️
  • I never understood why Android could have lots of great built-in physical keyboard shortcuts for launching apps but not Windows (at least not by default) even though Windows has the Windows key plus the menu key. Why do I have shortcuts for toggling autorotate, but not one for launching Mail or Edge? Why not expand on the possible range of shortcuts? Or allow customization natively, like in KDE?
  • Traditionally it was because Windows was configurable. You can add a shortcut to any application in its properties. That has gone away with 'Store' apps, but just Windows button and start typing the name sort of substitutes for that. You can still add shortcuts to 'x86' applications. The reality is/was Windows was like making pizza for a million. No matter what you did, you'd make some happy and irritate others, so options were the way. Android, built for phones had a different set of requirements to meet, and the brainchild of a small group. What they thought was needed was what it got. Shortcuts make a lot of sense with limited UI space, and initially limited configurability. Yes, it is super configurable now, but back in the day, every option took space and added complexity, so built in functionality was the way to go.