Office 2013 Preview: A Guide to the Improvements MadeBANGALORE, INDIA: Microsoft announced the customer preview of the upcoming Microsoft Office 2013 at an event in San Francisco
With Office 2013, Microsoft is eyeing to kill several birds with one stone. Deep integration with the Cloud and taking advantage of the features provided by Windows 8 are behind most of the changes that you will see in Office 2013. According to a press release, Office 2013, as speculated earlier, will work well with touch as well as mouse-and-keyboard. It will also have solid social networking features.
Office 2013 and Windows 8: Better together
Inking: Use of a stylus will allow users to produce documents using handwriting recognition and OCR, communicate with each other and control presentations, all in a familiar manner of using the pencil and eraser to undo mistakes.
OneNote and Lync: As expected, are said to draw heavily from Windows 8 since they are optimized for touch using features such as a radial menu (in OneNote).
Built-into Windows RT: The Home and Student RT edition of Office 2013 will be pre-installed on WoA devices, including Microsoft's very own Surface.
Ascending in the air
SkyDrive - Users of Office Web Apps would be familiar with Skydrive, since that is where Office Web Apps stores documents. Thus, Office 2013 combined with Skydrive will deliver a ubiqituous experience across devices. Office on Windows Phone already supports offline editing and syncing for SkyDrive - Office 2013 will have this too.
Office on Demand - This is meant to be a paid enhancement to the free Office Web Apps, where subscribers can make use of Office applications without any loss of functionality (unlike what is currently available with Office Web Apps) using any Internet-connected Windows-based PC.
New subscription services - Office 2013 will be available as a Cloud-based subscription service. Subscribers also benefit from automatic future upgrades as well as services such as 60 Skype world minutes every month and extra 20 Gbs of SkyDrive storage. Subscribers receive multiple installs for everyone in the family and across their devices. For instance, when you download Office 2013's preview right now, you get 5 allowed installs.
Also read: SMEs not to get immediate benefits
Contacts, Communication, Collaboration
Yammer: Along with Skype mentioned above, Microsoft more recently acquired Yammer too, which is known in the enterprise to deliver a secure, private social network for free, out-of-the-box. Yammer can be integrated with other business software such as SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics.
Social updates: News about people, teams, documents and sites are easy to acces in SharePoint. You can make use of image and video sharing as well as the sharing of Office documents itself.
People Card. Taken to be one of the most positive aspects about Windows Phone, Office 2013 will offer a one-stop-shop view about the people who matter to you, including presence and contact information as well as corresponding updates and activity from Facebook and LinkedIn.
Changing with the times
Reading and markup: The Reading mode of Word now adapts automatically to the screen size, supporting well-known touch gestures such as zoom, page flip, etc.
Meetings: PowerPoint 2013 will have a new `Presenter View' that privately shows your current and upcoming slides, presentation time, and speaker notes at a glance. Lync 2013 will have multiparty HD video, similar to Google+ Hangouts, with presentations, shared OneNote notebooks and a virtual whiteboard for collaborative brainstorming.
Super-sized touch-enabled displays: It is now possible to have a more engaging and immersive experience of conducting meetings, presentations and lessons, both face-to-face as well as online, with multitouch and stylus-enabled displays from Perceptive Pixel, another company which Microsoft bought recently.
More details about features and pricing are expected to be announced after a few months. However, as far as Cloud subscriptions are concerned, the following editions are planned:
· Office 365 Home Premium - For families and consumers.
· Office 365 Small Business Premium - For SMEs. This adds business-grade email, shared calendars, website tools and HD web conferencing.
· Office 365 ProPlus - For enterprises. This offers the flexibility to deploy and manage in the Cloud.
You can obtain the customer preview right now from office.com/preview. Please note that a Windows Live ID is needed to sign up for the preview.
Does it run on Win XP or Vista?
Microsoft launched a new blog titled `Office Next` a few days before the press event. In the introductory post on this blog, PJ Hough, Corporate Vice President of Program Management, Microsoft Office Division, states that the new blog is meant for discussing the improvements that their engineers make, the designs they choose and the data and feedback that inform their decisions. Hough also shares some of the feedback that was received from those who participated in the technical preview.
It is confirmed now that the Office 15 preview does not run on Windows XP as well as Windows Vista and hence is available only on Windows 7 and 8. This is being seen as a step in the direction to encourage existing desktop users to migrate to Windows 7 (and 8, when it is released).
The Office division of Microsoft generated a revenue exceeding USD 22.2 billion out of nearly USD 70 billion of Microsoft as a whole in 2011, which is the highest for any division within Microsoft. Hence, Office 2013 carries critical importance to Microsoft as a whole.
What tasks do you think will become easier/harder using touch screen devices? Did you try the preview? If so, how was your experience? Let us know!