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Microsoft Reverals Office 2013, Launches Customer Preview

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 41 comments

As predicted, Microsoft has launched the Office 2013 Customer Preview.

Just as predicted, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer finally revealed Office 2013 on Monday during a press conference in San Francisco. The company also launched the Office 2013 Customer Preview which can be downloaded here.

As previously reported, this next release features an intuitive design that works with touch, stylus, mouse or keyboard inputs across Windows-based devices, including tablets. The suite is even highly sociable, adding services like Yammer and Skype. Want cloud support? Microsoft Office 2013 has that too.

“We are taking bold steps at Microsoft,” Ballmer said. "The new, modern Office will deliver unparalleled productivity and flexibility for both consumers and business customers. It is a cloud service and will fully light-up when paired with Windows 8."

First, the cloud. The new version of Office saves documents to SkyDrive by default so that content is accessible across multiple devices (desktop, phone, tablet). That also includes personalized settings such as the user's most recently used files, templates and even their custom dictionary. But with a subscription, customers can stream full-featured Office applications to an internet-connected Windows-based PC.

"The new Office is available as a cloud-based subscription service," the company said on Monday. "As subscribers, consumers automatically get future upgrades in addition to exciting cloud services including Skype world minutes and extra SkyDrive storage. Subscribers receive multiple installs for everyone in the family and across their devices."

On the social front, the new Office features built-in support for Yammer, a secure, private social network for businesses, and popular VoIP service Skype, the latter of which comes with 60 minutes of minutes with an Office subscription. Office users can also follow people, teams, documents and sites in SharePoint. As an example, they can view and embed pictures, videos and Office content in their activity feeds to stay current and update their colleagues.

The social aspect of Office also includes a People Card feature. "Have an integrated view of your contacts everywhere in Office. The People Card includes present information complete with pictures, status updates, contact info and activity feeds from Facebook and LinkedIn accounts," the company explained.

Now the big question: will the new Office work in Windows 7. Yes, but the suite is designed to work best in the company's upcoming Metro-themed Windows 8 OS. Included is Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access. OneNote and Lync represent the first new Windows 8 style applications for Office, and are designed to deliver touch-first experiences on a tablet. A new radial menu in OneNote makes it easy to access features with just a finger.

Naturally the new Office is focused on touch-based input, but the suite also supports "inking," or rather, using a stylus to create content, take notes and access features. "Hand write email responses and convert them automatically to text. Use your stylus as a laser pointer when presenting. Color your content and erase your mistakes with ease," Microsoft said.

As for the subscriptions, Ballmer discussed three new Office 365 subscription services. When available, each new subscription offer will include the new 2013 editions of the Office applications — Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access. Subscribers will also receive future rights to version upgrades as well as per-use rights across up to five PCs or Macs and mobile devices. Here are the three subscriptions:

Office 365 Home Premium
This version is designed for families and consumers. This service also includes an additional 20 GB of SkyDrive storage and 60 minutes of Skype world minutes per month.

Office 365 Small Business Premium
This version is designed for small businesses. This service also includes business-grade email, shared calendars, website tools and HD web conferencing.

Office 365 ProPlus
This version is designed for enterprise customers who want advanced business capabilities and the flexibility to deploy and manage in the cloud.

Currently the pricing and release date is unknown, but the company confirmed that Office Home and Student 2013 RT will be included in Windows RT. In the meantime, customers wanting to get an early taste of Office 2013 can download the Customer Preview here which offers Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote and Outlook.

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Top Comments
  • 17 Hide
    teh_chem , July 17, 2012 12:04 AM
    One word into the title and there's already a spell-check fail. C'mon, really?

    Anyhoo, the biggest thing would be getting a stable office suite on (affordable) tablets. University students have been asking for years if they should use a tablet for their school work (the answer always being "no" because office apps for tablets are buggy and crappy and not widely-supported). I'm interested to see how this plays out. :) 
Other Comments
  • 17 Hide
    teh_chem , July 17, 2012 12:04 AM
    One word into the title and there's already a spell-check fail. C'mon, really?

    Anyhoo, the biggest thing would be getting a stable office suite on (affordable) tablets. University students have been asking for years if they should use a tablet for their school work (the answer always being "no" because office apps for tablets are buggy and crappy and not widely-supported). I'm interested to see how this plays out. :) 
  • 2 Hide
    A Bad Day , July 17, 2012 12:07 AM
    *Looks at my Office XP*

    *Looks at Office 2013*

    *Looks at my Office XP*


    How time flies...
  • Display all 41 comments.
  • 5 Hide
    back_by_demand , July 17, 2012 12:10 AM
    Quote:
    Microsoft Reverals

    Holy Christ Kevin!!! Get a GRIP!!!
  • 0 Hide
    back_by_demand , July 17, 2012 12:12 AM
    Quote:
    Office 365 ProPlus

    Has all the componants of Small Business Premium, but also provides you with a fast acting caffeine boost that can relieve the symptoms of fatigue and tiredness and help you feel more awake.
  • 0 Hide
    math1337 , July 17, 2012 12:25 AM
    I'm really kind of meh about the cloud features. Office 2010 already had skydrive features, and I don't really want them mashed in my face, especially since I do a lot of typing on the go.

    I'm looking forward to the new readers and proper pdf support though.
  • 2 Hide
    livebriand , July 17, 2012 12:42 AM
    I like the simpler shadows in it, but the icons are butt-ugly, and I can't stand the white. (with no option to change it) Office 2010 looks beautiful in comparison...
  • 6 Hide
    JamesSneed , July 17, 2012 12:44 AM
    Quote:
    One word into the title and there's already a spell-check fail. C'mon, really?

    Anyhoo, the biggest thing would be getting a stable office suite on (affordable) tablets. University students have been asking for years if they should use a tablet for their school work (the answer always being "no" because office apps for tablets are buggy and crappy and not widely-supported). I'm interested to see how this plays out. :) 



    That is pretty damn funny. Office does have a spell checker maybe Toms should give it a shot.
  • 1 Hide
    andy_newton , July 17, 2012 12:53 AM
    No more ribbon?
  • 1 Hide
    alxianthelast , July 17, 2012 1:06 AM
    Office 365 installer and website warning: 32 bit and 64 versions don't get along.

    so.... don't combine them and just have the 64 bit version run by itself?! I'm confused.
  • 0 Hide
    glenricky , July 17, 2012 1:42 AM
    Too bad, it's best suited with windows 8, but it cannot be installed in windows 8 release or consumer preview, full version only :( 
  • 2 Hide
    blazorthon , July 17, 2012 1:42 AM
    john_4I'll stick with Libre Office and save some cash.


    I like Libre Office too, but there are situations where you might have to use MS Office, especially in business environments.
  • 1 Hide
    lradunovic77 , July 17, 2012 1:51 AM
    Who needs an option to share documents on Facebook? Really? Office 2013 is using Metro interface... insane. Looks like Windows 7 and Office 2010 will be only option for businesses. No Windows XP support and no Windows Vista Support. Meh...

    No thanks i will stick with Libre Office and Ubuntu.
  • -4 Hide
    lradunovic77 , July 17, 2012 1:52 AM
    Office 2013 just like Windows 8 is less than Windows 7 and Office 2010 because MS decided that same OS has to run across multiple platforms. What a stupid decision.
  • 0 Hide
    beardguy , July 17, 2012 2:05 AM
    This looks great. I bought office 2010 not that long ago, but I really hate the tabular interface, there's way too much shit going on and I find the interface clunky and confusing.

    Hopefully Office 2013 will be more streamlined and intuitive.
  • -1 Hide
    HenrikG , July 17, 2012 2:32 AM
    I hate how everything Microsoft has been doing lately is so damn "Fisher Price" looking.
  • 1 Hide
    CaedenV , July 17, 2012 2:46 AM
    beardguyThis looks great. I bought office 2010 not that long ago, but I really hate the tabular interface, there's way too much shit going on and I find the interface clunky and confusing. Hopefully Office 2013 will be more streamlined and intuitive.

    Welcome to the year 2007, the ribbon UI has been arround for over 5 years now. It is admittedly a bear to get use to, but once you get the hang of what they are trying to do it isn't terrible (especially if you use a combo of the ribbon and key commands). Still, Ive gotta say that I like the idea of going back to drop menus, as they really are the best.
    I'm going to give this a try over the next few days. But something tells me that I would rather stick with office I already own then be saddled with another subscription service. When Balmer said he wanted to move to a subscription based service for office (and windows) when he first got the job I thought it would be the end of Windows... thankfully it will only be the end of Office.

    Oh, and skydrive support?
    Seriously, download the skydrive application, right click on your 'my documents' icon, properties, move, and point it to a folder in the skydrive folder. Instant skydrive support for all of your documents. Better than flash drives, or emailing files to yourself, or CDs, and works for all of your computers and windows phones. I did the same thing for my desktop... it's a real lifesaver. Instant backup, simple file transfer to all your computers, and accessible by anything with an internet connection.... God help you if your Live ID is compromised though :p 
  • 0 Hide
    Shin-san , July 17, 2012 2:54 AM
    Good commercial, but I don't see much of a point in upgrading
  • 2 Hide
    CaedenV , July 17, 2012 3:02 AM
    ... while installing I was looking at task manager to see what it was up to. While 'cleaning up' (installing) it was pulling down 22Mbps... the only time I have ever seen anything close to that is when testing my connection, I have never seen real world use (for a single site/service) break 10-12Mbps before.
  • 2 Hide
    CaedenV , July 17, 2012 3:50 AM
    OK,
    so after playing with the new office I am proud to announce: nothing much has really changed... again
    In the commercial they have dropdown menus, but the ribbon UI is still king of the day. Word, Excel, and PPT are all essentially the same as they were in office 2007, whith the noted exception of social media outputs for Word, and a simi-inteligent auto fill feature in Excel (which could be more annoying than useful).
    I have not seen publisher sense OfficeXP, and it has changed a bit... but that is to be expected for such a horrible program that has had 10 years to change. Access has made a few changes for the better it seems (again, a program that needed improvement anyways). OneNote seems pretty well left alone.

    Outlook seems to be a disaster. It is downright hard to look at. Take this with a grain of salt however as I have always hated Outlook, and really hated that it forces you into a specific workflow... which is aparantly incompatible with my own. I do like the new features of Outlook, and it had no troubbles with my google and hotmail accts (obviously yahoo is not supported unless you pay for YMail... but that is no fault of MS). I also like the 'peak' idea, but do not like that they moved it all to the bottom of the screen making it feel more than ever like 4 disconnected programs tossed together (mail, calendar, people/contacts, and tasks). I find my eye unable to focus on the emails, and seperate where one begins and the next one ends. It just looks like a mess.

    For the whole suite:
    I generally like the new Metro/cosmo look for desktop, and if this is what we can expect Win8 desktop applications to look like then I am all for it, though I will miss Aero's wonderful transparent look. I do not understand why they have not moved the headers for the ribbonUI to the title bar. Sure, keep it where it is when on a portable device, but when full screen on a 27" monitor it makes for a lot of dead-space.... bright white glaring dead space. All of the application's face-lifts are nice with the exception of Outlook which is simply difficult to look at, even if it is easier to use. I like that programs take the whole boarder of the program space (no more 'Window' space on the edge). However, this now means that you cannot resize a window until it is actively selected. Great for a mobile device, but just one more step for desktop users. I also like that each program takes on the color of it's icon, which is a simple visual cue for what you are interacting with.

    Everything else though feels much the same as it has always been. I may upgrade in order to get newer versions of Access and Publisher, but otherwise it feels much the same as it has been for the last 5 years. Either way I will play with it for a bit and see if any 'must have' features surface.... but I find this unlikely.
  • 1 Hide
    DRosencraft , July 17, 2012 4:03 AM
    Interesting that in running it, Office 2013 doesn't actually run in Metro App form like IE does. I was expecting to be testing in the Metro UI, but it loads on the desktop. Go fig.

    Anyway, preliminary use so far, it does look a little bit different, but I am jumping over from Office 2007, so that was expected. I like the little "full screen mode" button at the top right. I think I'll use that a lot when I'm in word since it'll give me a bit extra text space on screen. Some pretty cool features are in there too, like keeping temporary copies of stuff you don't save on exit, and marking the last place you were when you closed a document. And while some people don't like the blocky design, I do like it. It's more industrial and utilitarian, but I like that look, which is why I guess m hair didn't catch on fire like other people when they saw Win8.

    Don't like the "bright" screen. In Office 2007 I had the color scheme switched to black. I really wish I could do that with 2013 because all that white is a little much - almost like staring at the sun. Almost pitched a fit when it looked like you couldn't use it without using SkyDrive. Luckily you don't have to, but I would definitely prefer if SkyDrive wasn't so emphasized. Yes, it's useful. Yes, I do have it. But I live in Florida, where at any time during the months of May through October, from midday to midnight, there is a likelihood that lightning will strike and knock out power at your for at least long enough to reset your router. Sometimes longer, and multiple times in one afternoon/evening. I would prefer it if while on my laptop I didn't have to wait for my internet to come on to switch between documents or save/load something else I'm working on, but that might just be me. I've also noticed that there is a little initial lag in the program showing what I type. It's really brief, like it takes an extra split second to start showing what I type. It's not a big deal, and I think I know why it's happening, but it's still a little annoying.
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