Yesterday, Microsoft introduced the latest version of their popular Office suite of productivity applications. Office 2013 ushers in a new era of productivity computing for both Microsoft and the world. The new version of Office brings a subscription model, cloud integration, touch improvements and a new Metro-styled look.
New Look and Feel
Trying to figure out which change is the most drastic is a challenge. On one hand Microsoft completely revamped the UI. Improving touch input and flattening out the user interface, Microsoft created apps which now closely resemble the full screen Metro apps found in Windows 8, which is the point. The new Office apps take their cue from the Zune PC software, which Windows Phone users currently use to update, manage, download and upload their media to Windows Phone devices. The infamous ribbon UI is still present in the new version of Office, but can be hidden and is hidden by default.
Microsoft has also updated the icons for Office 2013. The new icons are flatter and more consistent with the metro style and theme in their new products.
Cloud Integration is Seamless
One could also argue that the new SkyDrive integration is the biggest change to Office. Office 2013 uses your SkyDrive or SharePoint accounts to store your documents. This way you’re always using the most up-to-date document and can access it from anywhere as long as you possess an internet connection. SkyDrive storage works just as a local drive does. When you first install and setup Office 2013, you will login with your Microsoft Account credentials and SkyDrive will be enabled by default. Of course, the user can change these defaults if they wish.
New Cloud-Based Delivery Method
Keeping with the cloud theme, I would submit that the greatest change in Office 2013 is the new delivery system for Office apps. The new system effectively streams a copy of Office to your computer, keeping all of your documents and settings intact. This ability would, for example, allow a user to log into their Office apps on a friend’s computer and continue working on a document that they started at home on their personal computer. The new system installs in minutes and is pretty impressive if I say so myself.
There are a ton of new and interesting features coming in the next version of Microsoft Office and this post is just the tip of the iceberg, so tune into the official Office Next blog for tons of news and information on the coming software.
Don’t take my word for it though. Microsoft is offering a public preview of their new suite of productivity apps for users to try for themselves. You can try Office 2013 for free here.