Microsoft recently announced the newest addition to its family of office products called Office 2013. At the moment, it is being made available as a “Consumer Preview” and can be downloaded for free (see: Office 2013 screenshot tour). I took a shot at downloading the preview and would like to share my thoughts on it so far.
Ease of Download and Installation
I found the download and installation process to be extremely easy. Pictured below, you can see what the Consumer Preview website looks like when you go to download it. All you have to do is click sign up and it will take you through the steps. Office 2013 is all designed around the Microsoft ID so you will have to use an existing login like your Hotmail account, or create a new one to get the download. Keep in mind that only users with Windows 7 and Windows 8 can download Office 2013. The installation was really quick. I was up and using Word in less than 10 minutes.
The user interface is visually stunning. I give them credit for not veering too far away from the ribbon interface that we’re all used to, but they did incorporate the Metro UI look which will be the standard in all of Microsoft’s Windows 8 products. Pictured below, you can see what the Excel 2013 window looks like. If you look in the top right corner you will see your online Microsoft profile, an ever present reminder that with Office 2013 you are always connected. You can also put Office 2013 in “Touch Mode” to optimize it for use with tablets and touch screen PC’s.
Features and Functionality
I have a decent PC, but it certainly isn’t cutting edge. I am running a Windows 7 OS with an Intel i5 processor. That being said, I find Office 2013 to be extremely responsive. For instance, when I clicked Microsoft Publisher 2013, it took 3 seconds to be up and running on my screen. That was the first time too! Whatever they did to take the bloat out of the startup experience, it’s a good thing.
As far as features go, there are a few new ones worth mentioning, and I think they are good additions to the Office family. The first one I will mention is Microsoft Word’s ability to open and edit PDF files. This works very well. If you look at the screenshot below, you will see that my PDF resume shows up as an available document in the Word dialog box. I was able to open and edit a PDF with ease. It was as smooth as silk.
Excel 2013 sports a new feature called “Flash Fill” which I think is really useful. If you look below, you can see an example where someone wanted to split first and last names. In column B they began typing a first name then hit ctrl+E and the “Flash Fill” Feature knows the pattern that you want all of the first names from column A. This is a very useful feature and will save time.
The last thing I want to mention is the availability of the cloud. All of your files can follow you around if you take advantage of Microsoft’s Skydrive with Office 2013. You can use Office 2013 with up to 5 different devices. This also means that you can access all your files from those devices by saving them to you Skydrive. It really shows up just like any other folder would in your Office programs. Saving to it is a breeze.
Everything that I have seen of Microsoft Office 2013 so far is a 5 star rating in my opinion. However, because they have only made this available to Windows 7 and 8 users, I am rating it with 4 stars. I am sure there may be technical reasons behind this decision, but I suspect that it is mostly a financial one. Office 2013 is worth the look and if you’re still using 2003, then I would definitely recommend it for the features and the speed. Keep checking back with us because I will be adding tutorials very soon so you can see more of the great features this new Office 2013 provides. You may also want to read some of the other great articles which go into more detail about the new features of Office 2013 at http://techie-buzz.com/tag/office-2013/.