New Office suite to feature touch controls, Web storage

New versions of Microsoft’s word processing, spreadsheet and email programs will sport touch-based controls and emphasize Internet storage to reflect an industrywide shift away from the company’s strengths in desktop and laptop computers.

The new offerings appear designed to help Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft retain an important source of revenue as more people access documents from mobile devices. The new Office suite also reflects the fact that people tend to work from multiple computers.

Like an upcoming redesign of Microsoft’s Windows operating system, the new Office will respond to touch as well as commands delivered on a computer keyboard or mouse.

The addition of touch-based controls will enable Office to extend its franchise into the booming tablet computer market. Apple dominates that market with the iPad, though Microsoft has plans to compete with its own tablet, called Surface.

The Internet-based services approach is one Google has been promoting with its own suite of similar programs, threatening Microsoft’s dominance.

Gas prices in Maine rise to 10 cents above U.S. average

Gas prices in Maine are bucking the national trend and rising rapidly.

Price-monitoring website MaineGasPrices.com said Monday that the retail price of a gallon of gas in Maine has risen nearly 7 cents in the past week to an average of $3.52.

The national average during the same time did not budge and remains at $3.42 per gallon.

The good news is that prices in Maine remain nearly 27 cents per gallon lower than at this time last year.

A company analyst said he expects national prices to follow the Maine trend and rise in the coming weeks.

— From news service reports