By Vamien McKalin | Jul 23, 2012 09:39 AM EDT
Recently, Microsoft made available Office 2013 Consumer Preview to everyone who is willing to take the plunge. After days of using what could amount to be Microsoft's best Office suite yet, we are ready give our first impression. The differences here compared to Office 2010 are plenty, but not so much as to confuse users, and that is a good thing because not many people like change, especially if change is very drastic.
The new Office this time around is very tablet-friendly, this due in part to Microsoft's push with Windows 8 and the Metro UI in the tablet space. We are running this bad boy on a Dell Inspiron Duo, a Netbook with the ability to transform into a tablet on the fly.
Look and Feel
The most notable change about Office 2013 is its new look and feel. Everything feels Metro-like, proving that Microsoft is hell-bent on bringing the Metro UI to all its products, and it is something we dig since most of us here are big fans of the Metro user interface. For those who hate the Ribbon menu that made its debut in Office 2007, you won't be too happy to find out it is the center part of the menu interface in Office 2013.
At the top right corner of any of the Office apps, you will find your name and an image of yourself at all time. This is because Office 2013 is linked directly with your LIVE account, something many users might not be too happy with since a LIVE account from our understanding, is needed to use Office 2013.
Touchy Feely Mode
Do you love to touch? Like to feel things, don't you? Then you'll be right at home with the new Office from Microsoft. Every app in the suite has the option to turn on Touch Mode; this can be done by clicking on the small arrow at the top of the screen, the one you use to customize the menu. Clicking the touch switch will widen the menu for a more finger-friendly experience, and that is as far as it goes. Yes there are a few touch gestures, but these do not require Touch Mode to be turned on for them to work.
When you fire up Word for the first time, and every time after for that matter, you will be greeted with a new page instead of a blank document. The right hand menu will show a few templates inclusive of the blank document template you want so badly. On the left, however, lies the recently edited documents.
We like how it is easier than ever now to add online video to a Word document. In previous versions, adding a video from YouTube was a serious pain the groin, We also like what Microsoft calls - Tracking Changes. Whenever you open a previously edited document, tracking changes will bring you back to where you were before. Neat isn't it?
PowerPoint 2013 looks more stylish here. However, there aren't many new features to talk about here. The best bit here is the new presenter view; this takes a lot of the trouble out of presenting, especially when doing so in front of a large audience. When a projector is plugged in, you are no longer required to do any form of basic set up, which makes presenting seamless and that much easier.
As you might have expected, there are more animated transitions, but that's it for the new PowerPoint, which is a little bit disappointing to say the least.
Just like PowerPoint, there is really not much to talk about with Excel. The main new feature is called Flash Fill; a feature which aims to predict what should go where in any given blank cell. The more you use it, the better it gets at predicting stuff. We don't see many users using much of Flash Fill, but it could be useful for when there is a lot of work to be done.
Another feature in Excel is Timeline Slicer; this allows the user to filter data from a specific time period. Neat, as it has the potential to be one of the most used features in Excel.
We doubt many folks who use Office play around too much with Outlook, but for the ones who do, you'll enjoy the version in Office 2013. Unlike other versions of Office, many options aren't visible here, which could be a problem for the hardcore Office user. On the top of the calendar, a weather bar shows the weather of where you are located, not very useful but hey, not a bad idea to have the weather plastered on everything nowadays.
Microsoft added something new to Outlook called Peeks. This allow users to do things like calendar appointments, to-do items and information about their contacts. You can even check your schedule by mousing over the Calendar without having to launch it directly, and that's a very good thing.
For the social junkies, you all will be happy to know that Outlook can be linked with Facebook and LinkedIn, so all your contacts will be carried over to the People Pane. Sadly, linking with Twitter is lacking, we hope Microsoft does something about this before launch.
OneNote is Microsoft's note taking app for those with bad memory, heh heh, we're just kidding. Anyway, this version of OneNote will have a Metro standalone version when Office 2013 launches. Auto save and regular note taking has improved, and there is also integration with other apps such as Outlook and Word.
Yes, Microsoft Office 2013 is more integrated to the cloud than previous versions. SkyDrive integration is more though out, this is evident in the less time it takes to get to the upload to SkyDrive section and the fact that when saving, SkyDrive is the default spot and not the C: drive.
There is even an option to hook into Facebook and Flickr to add photos in Word, something that couldn't be done before in previous versions of Office.
Wrap it up
Nothing much excites us in Office 2013. Probably the most compelling is the way Microsoft integrates Office with the Cloud. We found the Consumer Preview easy and painless to use, sometimes we come across some slowdowns now and again, but not so much to have us ripping our hairs out.
The year 2012 is the year Microsoft shows how serious it is about the cloud and hitting the competition hard. Everything the company announced this year appears to be on the right track. Now it is all left down to consumers and how they will react.
Want to try it out? Let's help you out with the Office 2013 download and installation.
© 2013 Mobile & Apps All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.