With the release of Microsoft’s Windows 8 a few months away, Microsoft has been announcing updates to their multitude of products. One of the biggest changes that is due is a new version of Microsoft Office. While the finished product most likely won’t be available until after the release of Windows 8, there is a technical preview – Office 15 – available. It’s expected that the retail release will be called Office 2013.
Here are the major changes you are going to see with Microsoft Office 2013:
With Office 2013, all of the major Office components have been updated to take advantage of the new layout in Windows 8. This means that the whole Office suite is now set up with a tablet friendly layout.
At this time, there are five different plans available for users who want to buy Office 2013.
- Office Web Apps. A free web based version of Office that is integrated with SkyDrive, Outlook.com and Facebook Messages.
- Office Home Premium. The consumer version that comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, OneNote and Publisher. This version can be installed on up to five computers at once, and comes with 20GB of storage space on SkyDrive.
- Office 365 Small Business Premium. Has the same programs as the consumer version, but instead of SkyDrive, uses Office 365. This version also has Exchange email, SharePoint and Lync.
- Office 365 Pro Plus. This plan has the same programs as Small Business as well as InfoPath.
- Office 365 Enterprise. Enterprise is the most complete plan, with all accounts being 365 Enterprise accounts and the full version of Exchange.
You’ll also be able to subscribe to Office, which will allow you to take your account anywhere and access/stream Office software and documents. Office will download/stream the program you need while you’re using it and then delete it afterwards. Almost every major program of Office has also been updated.
Word has been cleaned up a little and the ribbon at the top of the window (where all your editing options are) has been modified slightly to make it more useful. Laying out your documents has been made a lot easier with the ability to insert images directly from the Internet without having to download them first. You’ll also be able to adjust images more quickly due to enhanced alignment tools.
It’s obvious that Word 2013 has been designed for tablets by default, and the window is slightly taller but a lot wider. Some functions like Spell Check also take up a lot more space, which can make it tougher to edit/navigate documents. This could take some getting used to, but shouldn’t pose much of an issue for your employees.
PowerPoint shines with the new layout, with your project or presentation taking center stage with tools fading into the background. If you’re editing a presentation and you close the program, you’ll get a pop-up offering to take you directly to where you left off last time when you restart the program.
Embedding images and videos is a lot easier with the ability to search for media within PowerPoint and embed it directly, without having to mess with code and downloading images. Media also has easy formatting options which show up as a small box beside the media element.
There are also some great new presentation tools, including a preview of the next few slides that only you can see, the ability to zoom in/out on slides, and better ability to jump between slides.
Excel has also had a similar facelift, with the latest features aiming to help users with their spreadsheets. Select a range of cells and Excel will give you a Quick Analysis option which can suggest ideas about what you may want to do with that data. When creating a chart or graph, Excel will make a suggestion as to the most appropriate chart/graph for the data. With complex data that can be analysed using pivot tables, Excel will build the tables automatically. Editing of charts, tables and data has also been made easier.
Excel has been made to look more ‘alive’. If you make a change you will visually see the results (if you change data, the resulting chart will update). If you make an error, Excel will now give you detailed explanations about the error, not just the usual error code from previous versions.
Outlook has been updated to be more efficient too, and you’ll be able to view and reply to emails directly from the main screen, without having to open emails in a new window. Instead your emails open in a new pane that’s part of the main screen. You’ll also be able to quickly view all of your unread emails, by simply clicking Unread.
The address book has also received an overhaul, to bring it closer to the one on Windows Phone. It will try to put similar accounts together into one card and addresses can be more easily viewed.
There is a slight downside though, as notifications stack up on the right side of the window. If you’ve been away on vacation and return to 100s of emails, you’ll be flooded with notifications that take up a large portion of the screen. They do fade after a few seconds, but they could prove to be a nuisance.
There have been lots of changes made in Office 15, and no doubt more will be made before the retail release of Office 2013. You can sign up to preview Office 2013 here. While you can try it, we recommend that you don’t implement it as the new office suite in your office until the retail version is released. If you’re as excited as we are about Office 2013, and would like to learn more about implementing it after the release please contact us.