Office 2013: a pleasant surprise

Office 2013: a pleasant surprise

Summary: After a week of using Office 2013 we're pleasantly surprised. The changes Microsoft has made to support Windows 8 — and specifically Windows 8 tablets — are logical, and they work well with more traditional ways of using Office.

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The rest
The other members of the Office suite all get a revamp in Office 2013. Some, like Access and InfoPath, seem less relevant now the tools for Metro application development are built into Windows 8, but still get updates for the Metro world. Updates include new Metro templates for Access' web application development tools. Publisher adds improved mail-merge tools, so you can use it to create personalised mailings and documents; you can also convert entire documents into JPEG format to simplify printing.

A new Office for a new Microsoft
Microsoft is making a series of big bets with its 2012 releases. The most obvious is Metro, but more significant are the changes Microsoft is making to its licensing. You'll still be able to buy Office 2013 as a standalone product, but it's also going to be available as a download, purchased as a subscription alongside a new consumer and small business version of the Office 365 cloud service. It will also take advantage of the SkyDrive cloud synchronisation tools built into Windows 8 — and available as a download for phones, tablets and devices running desktop OSs.

The new Office 365 partner licensing terms introduced at this year's Worldwide Partner Conference will make these changes more acceptable to the channel, with Office now able to give partners recurring revenue. SaaS (Software as a Service) has made subscription software more palatable to businesses, and by bundling Office with its cloud services Microsoft has made it more likely that they will take advantage of Office 2013's subscription terms. Consumer acceptance is another question, and one we'll watch with interest.

Microsoft Office 2013
Office 2013 includes a new extensions model, which lets you add HTML5 and JavaScript applications to your documents — extensions that will run in Office, or in Office Web Apps.

Cloud integration goes right to the heart of Office, with files saved automatically to both your machine and Microsoft's cloud services (SkyDrive for consumers and SharePoint Online for business users). There's something surprisingly liberating about knowing that you can access your files anywhere — and with Office On Demand, even with your usual tools. The cloud is also at the heart of Office's collaboration features, which build on the tools introduced in Office 2010 to make collaboration much easier to use, for both co-editing and for asynchronous document collaboration.

We were initially sceptical about the chromeless Metro look-and-feel, especially on our Windows 7 test system. However we found that collapsing the ribbon gave us plenty of screen real estate for our documents — especially when using a full screen. The plain white colour scheme also minimises distractions, leaving you to focus on your content.

After a week of using Office 2013 we're pleasantly surprised. The changes Microsoft has made to support Windows 8 — and specifically Windows 8 tablets — are logical, and they work well with more traditional ways of using Office. The result is a design that makes it easy to focus on work, rather than drowning in extraneous information. Office is first and foremost a productivity suite, and Office 2013 looks set to make users more productive without requiring them to learn new ways of working, even on new kinds of devices. That's a win in anyone's book.

Topics: Reviews, Apps, Cloud, Enterprise Software, Microsoft

Simon Bisson

About Simon Bisson

Simon Bisson is a freelance technology journalist. He specialises in architecture and enterprise IT. He ran one of the UK's first national ISPs and moved to writing around the time of the collapse of the first dotcom boom. He still writes code.

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12 comments
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  • Great work by the Microsoft Office team !

    It is just an awesome product, already a great product and now this team has made it way way better, touch friendly, productive. This has success written all over it !
    Kudos !
    ninjacut
  • A great product

    Its just an awesome product
    the pdf integration is Awesome
    A just grabbed a Full installer from the link given here
    http://windows8consumer.in/blog/index.php/2012/07/16/download-office-2013-preview-today/
    And it flowed like a cake
    samrockz
  • A great product

    Its just an awesome product
    the pdf integration is Awesome
    A just grabbed a Full installer from the link given here

    http://windows8consumer.in/blog/index.php/2012/07/16/download-office-2013-preview-today/

    And it flowed like a cake
    samrockz
  • OK do I have to have an office product to try this?

    I have Office 2010 but I do not want to replace it. I could load this on my test bed laptop that has Office 2010 already on it, and is running Windows 8 already. I did a factory restore disk set like I do with all new systems and did images, and then swapped the original drive out with a new 128 GB SSD M-4 and loaded the factory on that, and then 8 as an upgrade clean install. I have already gone way over my allowed activations with Office 2010 because of loading it on all the versions of Windows 8 from developer's on, and before that on my desktop, and two notebooks the old and the new, and my netbook. ( I have a three computer license. So now I have to call every time I load it on one of my currently owned three systems which I sell and replace every 12-18 months.

    So for all of you much younger and try it all in all flavors techs, perhaps you can tell me if it can be loaded alone, as an upgrade only, and will it stand alone with an installation of Office 2010 already on the machine.

    I am, all for doing the learning curve like for Windows 8 on a free preview with state of the art machines. I just don't want to get into the mess that Outlook can create with another version on the same machine as in the past.
    Thanks
    AreV
    • Re:

      No, no previous installation necessary.
      G'Dammit!
  • THERE IS NO EFFIN WAY I CAN USE A FORCED FULL SCREEN APP!

    If the Office uses the Windows 8 full-screen "tablet" design, there is no way I am going to install Windows 8 and use the new Office. If I can't open multiple windows and if each app is expanded to a full window, there is no way I can replicate my workflow using multiple windows with drag and drop/cut and paste.
    120529-000107
    • Re: caps lock much?

      Stop spreading FUD. It's written in Win32 not WinRT. Moreover, it's free to test out, give it a shot before spewing out negative crap. Also, caps lock bro.
      G'Dammit!
  • Office 2013 is a desktop app

    which means it runs in desktop mode just like Office 2010 runs in Windows 7... You can open as many windows as you want and resize them, just like in Windows 7...

    You can even replicate your workflow using multiple windows with drag and drop/cut and paste.
    Bill Reilly
  • office 2013

    Only thing that I do not like is Business Contact Manager does not work with it also I really do not like the colours available but that is minor.
    Fairly nice other than those small rubs.
    robbiejfergusson@...
  • Second post by Simon

    both feel like Microsoft ads, all fluff and no filler.

    I would love to have seen WHY I would want to move off of Office 2010 to this new version. (and know the metro look would NOT be a real reason).

    I cant wait for the next AD....or um blog post.
    JeveSobs
    • At least one killer new Word feature: PDF Reflow!

      If it works, PDF Reflow will be a huge new convenience. Excerpting content from PDFs is currently a hit-and-usually-miss affair. My wife works in a publishing role that involves a lot of this, and it's a source of serious frustration. PDF Reflow could make it a snap!
      scH4MMER
  • buy office 2013 professional with Genuine License-key from officebfh.com

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    Colorfully Moon