First Look: Microsoft Office 2013 Preview
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First Look: Microsoft Office 2013 Preview

Steve Ballmer Office 2013Just when Google seemed to have Office computing in the cloud sewed up along comes Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer with the latest version of the company’s franchise Office suite of applications.

Office 2013 Preview  features an intuitive design that works beautifully with touch, stylus, mouse or keyboard across new Windows devices, including tablets. The new Office is social and unlocks modern scenarios in reading, note-taking, meetings and communications and will be delivered to subscribers through a cloud service that is always up to date. “We are taking bold steps at Microsoft,” Ballmer said at the press conference in San Francisco. “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.”

While the Preview is supposed to work best with Windows 8 especially on a touch device, I decided to install it on Windows 7. Bad news if you have an earlier version of Windows..the Preview will only install on Windows 7 or 8. It was a pretty simple process at I had to sign in to my Microsoft account and chose to install the Home Premium preview..the whole process took about 5 minutes, I have a very fast internet connection but, this install was way faster than the cloud installation of the previous version and it was installed alongside my existing Office 2010 Installation.

On first look you will..we’ll start with will see a clean new look that offers a list of previously opened documents on the left and a choice of templates..most often used ones will automatically float to the top..the look is pretty much the same in Access, Excel, PowerPoint and Publisher.

Once you open a document you will notice the interface is vaguely reminiscent of Office 10..the (dreaded for some) ribbon..I have no issue with still there but is easily dismissed leaving a clean all white interface. The download script offered themes but I have yet to find a way to install them after installing the no theme version. The appropriate ribbon reappears when you click on the menu can choose to keep it or let it disappear when you are done with it.

Word screen

Powerpoint has a cool new feature called Presenter View. The slide show is presented normally on the main screen i.e. projector and the presenters screen shows the existing slide, the nextt slide, any notes and access to important tools..including a laser pointer that you can move around the screen..I found it a really good addition.

The other products also fun new features:  Excel will offer a choice of suggested pivot tables for your data..complete with previews. Without ever leaving the Outlook window, address recognition in the Bing app for Outlook helps you quickly find where you’re going and there’s more in this Microsoft video.

Office 2013 is much more tightly integrated with the internet. With Office 2013, user can save their files directly to Sky Drive, edit their files which are stored in Microsoft’s servers and even use the full-fledged Office suite on a computer on which the program is not installed using Office On Demand feature that stores a user’s personal settings into cloud.
This means that you can access Office 2013 and your documents in a cyber cafe even if the program is not installed locally on the computer. It is a neat feature and may prove to be immensely useful. Though it requires buying Office 365 and will not work if you only have Office 2013.

Ultimately, Microsoft’s approach to Office 2013 is the same as its approach to Windows 8. You want touch and cloud? No problem. Prefer to work locally on the classic desktop? That’s fine too.  Microsoft isn’t yet talking about price, or when we’ll see these new Office apps. We do know that the Windows RT version of Office will be included when the Surface tablet ships, which Microsoft said would be when Windows 8 is generally available so sometime around October – but those could be preview versions of the apps, and Office 2013 itself may not be launching until (as the name suggests) early 2013.

It is worth giving the preview a is free and will install alongside your existing version of Office. If you do try it out..let me know what you think.

Bob Benedetti

Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal

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