Office 2013: A closer look

Office 2013: A closer look

Summary: Microsoft has officially unveiled the consumer preview of Office 2013. The new edition has a dramatically different look and feel, as well as tight connections to cloud-based services. Here's what you'll find inside.

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  • A new name for a time-tested technology

    Much of what’s in Office 2013 is familiar technology. The software component that syncs local files with their cloud counterparts at SkyDrive Pro is actually an updated version of Groove. Old-timers will remember Groove as the groundbreaking product that Ray Ozzie brought to Microsoft. 

  • Sign in to Office to save and sync

    Signing in with an Office 365 account unlocks access to online files and shared sites. It also syncs settings (including recent documents and bookmarks) between computers. So you can begin editing a document on one computer, exit, and sign in on another PC to pick up where you left off.

  • Open files from just about anywhere

    Click File and then click Open in any Office app to reach this tab, which shows online files (SkyDrive and SharePoint) and local storage, as well as recently opened files.

Topics: Software, Cloud, Enterprise Software, Microsoft

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27 comments
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  • Large, but never really has what you want . . .

    "and a selection of templates (drawn from Microsoft’s large online collection) on the right."

    Large, yes, but never really has what you want -_-.
    CobraA1
  • Large, but never really has what you want . . .

    "and a selection of templates (drawn from Microsoft’s large online collection) on the right."

    Large, yes, but never really has what you want -_-.
    CobraA1
    • So make your own

      If you don't find that any of the thousands of Office templates available don't meet your special needs, then make your own, either by modifying one of your own documents or by modifying the template that best meets your needs.

      Then, use it yourself privately. Or, if you believe there is at least one other person in the world who shares your special needs for that template, publish it on Office.com.

      But, above all, don't whine and don't spread misinformation!
      Ian Easson
  • @Ed

    Great overview of the key new features of Office 15. Look forward to a more thorough review as the product solidifies.
    bitcrazed
    • New features I hadn't even thought of!

      I don't want features just for the sake of it. But this next version of Office gets a lot of the basics right.
      Bookmarks and Where You Left Off have been long overdue in Word and Powerpoint, since Excel does this by default (you look at the last screen you were looking at when you exited). Nobody else does it, but it would still be useful.
      In Excel, selecting appropriate charts based on analysis of the data is fantastic! So many people use the wrong chart type, and whilst MS isn't responsible for finding the right chart type, at least by seeing a filtered selection (instead of the whole lot of charts), it will get people to think for themselves a little more.
      I'm a convert.
      BUT - when you wrap text in Excel, does it make the whole row extra high, or does it only make visible rows extra high (compare with the Mac Sheet, which always fits as many rows onto the screen as it can)
      HugoM
  • Nice so far

    Nice so far, good to see a preview of the next version of Office.

    ZDNet *still* needs a better photo gallery, though. Sigh. It's a royal pain.
    CobraA1
    • Feedback heard loud and clear

      I'm passing along the feedback and adding my own.
      Ed Bott
    • Ditto

      Pain in the a*ss
      Ian Easson
  • I do not want my data in the Cloud.

    I do not believe the Cloud is as safe as my own hard drive. Several years ago I was forced by USWest/Qwest/CenturyLink to use MSN as my ISP. The six months I remained on it was a nightmare. When Microsoft (MSN is Microsoft.) mailservers go down, incoming mail is bounced. Subscription lists unsubscribe you. Your friends think you are no longer on the Internet. All your mail during the outage is lost. Microsoft helps you even less with your problems today. They expect other users who have varying degrees of expertise to do the work a paid support staff should be doing. Many lurk on those "answer" boards and ridicule people. Don't tell me it is too expensive to provide a paid staff. You can quickly disprove that line of thought by observing what Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison and others like them have accumulated over the years. Some of that money should have been used to support their products. What makes you think the Cloud will be any different?
    rwjustus
  • So ugly!

    Is that new chromeless/Metro look supposed to be good looking? It's so ugly, I don't like the new look direction MS is going in.

    But it ain't too bad, MS change look philosophy every 3-5 years, so it'll change again by the time of next Windows and Office releases, I'll just skip these versions.

    They may say Aero desktop is "cheezy", then I like "cheezy".
    lepoete73
    • Agreed. Metro just does not scale.

      On a tiny phone screen with high pixel density, Metro's "lack of chrome" philosophy makes sense and works well.

      On a large laptop/desktop display though, it just unfinished, as if this an early alpha. Everything is just a SEA of white.

      Chrome is *necessary* in some aspects to separate user input sections from control elements. Mashing them all together in some misguided corporate attempt at "cohesion" means that yes, they'll all share the same design philosophy and work the same, but at the cost of usability depending upon your device and screen. Cripes, I get eye strain looking at the pics when they're not even full screen.

      Tailor the GUI to the form factor. Oh well, MS at least continues it's tradition of having absolutely no clue with regards to aesthetics.
      Nitz_Walsh
      • I agree

        It's also extremely hard to read. Ten minutes on this thing and my eyes ache.
        vlandau@...
    • Ugly

      I keep going back to play with the Release Preview of Win8 trying to like it. I keep looking at the Metro-ized screen shots of Office 2013 trying to like it. I just can't. Something keeps creating this nasty headache every time I look at it.

      That's OK ... Win7, Office 2003 and VS 2008 work fine for everything I'm doing. I'm going to continue to get my money's worth out of 'em!

      Sorry MS ... I just can't follow you this time. :-/
      Max Peck
      • Same here

        I'm trying and trying (currently trying Windows 8 Release Preview and Office 15) and I can't get my head around it. And I'm told that the current Windows 8 desktop still has a lot of Aero which is not going to be there comes the final release.

        At least Microsoft should let us choose theme for older look, like when XP came out you could still use a Windows 2000/98 theme, how about a Windows Vista/7 theme for Windows 8?
        lepoete73
  • Let's hear it for maximum eyestrain!

    I don't see how removing GUI elements like Chrome improves ease of use. The toolbars and tabs in Office 2013 look undistinguished and cluttered. Visual cues are reduced to a minimum. You now have to read everything - on a glaring white background. It looks to me like Windows and OS X are on the same track to reduce usability. As if staring at a computer screen for hours on end weren't already challenging enough, interface design now seems calculated to make it even more difficult. It makes you wonder if there's not a secret cabal between Redmond and Cupertino to make things as simple and ugly as possible. Though it's probably just synergy of some sort, the results are equally distasteful in my opinion. As a visually challenged individual I notice these things, perhaps more than most. But that doesn't mean I will be the only one affected by all that whiteness. You may not notice the extra eyestrain immediately, but that doesn't mean it isn't there. Ease of use has apparently become a lost art, abandoned in the effort to change things for the sake of change alone.

    Operationally the new Office may be excellent. Functionally it takes several steps backwards. Indeed, I don't remember any version of Office that was harder to use, visually. I hope everyone who must use this new Office suite has eye care coverage in their health insurance. They're going to need it. And good disability benefits as well when their work incapacitates them. Clearly the overpaid executives who dictate such design standards don't actually use the products they mandate their engineers create. Which is SOP for bad product design.
    thewhitedog
    • And what about that all CAPS titles

      All CAPS makes things harder to read, as if someone was shouting the command to you (remember chat room rules: CAPS means shouting!).
      lepoete73
  • I couldn't agree with thewhitedog more.

    Doesn't Microsoft and Apple realize people are required to stare at these badly designed screens for hours on end when your job requires constant computer interface? Things are not getting better in any camp. Cult or Microsoft seem to be competeing in arriving at the most difficult format to start at for any extended length of time.
    TUFOP
    • It's a feature

      "Cult or Microsoft seem to be competeing in arriving at the most difficult format to start at for any extended length of time."

      It's better for us. It makes us stop every 15 minutes to rest our eyes. :)
      harvey_rabbit
      • Wish I could

        Not everyone's got the luxury to take a break every 15 minutes.
        lepoete73
    • Apple?

      While Apple goes a little nuts with their skeuomorphic designs at times, no way should their name by brought up alongside MS when viewing this monstrosity.

      Apple at least understands that design paradigms need to be different for wildly different form factors, and they understand fit and finish - so even if some of their consumer apps can be a little "busy", they get the details right (fonts, shadows, consistency if icons, etc).

      The small screen of phones with Metro works because you need that space for content, but also a text-heavy design is far more palatable when the DPI is high and the text rendering is good, which it is on Windows phone. It looks *clean*.

      Here, the massive amount of whitespace, and the fact you're viewing these on a much lower DPI screen than a phone really makes the jagged text rendering stand out. It's amplified by the fact that due to (once again) Win8 making a desperate ploy for the tablet market, Cleartype is now gone, so text rendering is actually worse in Win8 (cleartype was removed because when oriented vertically on tablets it is more susceptible to colour fringing).

      I like the animation in Office 13 very much, but holy moses so many other design elements are a huge step backwards.

      And for those of you who are about to shout "It's a preview! It's not done yet!" - this has barely changed since the Feb technical preview, and the same defence of Win8 was given, when it too barely changed in appearance from DP->CP->RP.

      This what MS thinks actually looks good. This is why for a company that wants to play in the consumer space, you need executives at the top you really *care* about design. Does anyone get the sense Ballmer has any knowledge or skill in this area at all? Really?
      Nitz_Walsh