Microsoft’s latest version of Office features a sleek appearance that correlates with Windows 8, functional improvements, and the ability to store documents online. Office 2013, or “the New Office,” has been available as a consumer preview for public download since mid-July. It’s now being offered as part of an Office 365 subscription, or you can purchase the desktop software on its own (click HERE to purchase Microsoft Office 2013 now).
There are several significant changes to the New Office that we think make it worth upgrading from Office 2010. To begin with, the look is greatly simplified to mimic the tiles on the Windows 8 start screen. This redesign is intended to reduce visual “clutter” in your workspace so that you can more easily focus on your tasks. In addition, each application has a new color coded start screen that has more options to choose from.
If you’re using SkyDrive or SharePoint to save documents online, you’ll be pleased with the seamless integration to these cloud-based services. If you use SkyDrive, the account details appear in the top left corner of all the Office 2013 application and start screens. You can choose to save to your local disk, but the default will be to save to either your SkyDrive or SharePoint folders. What’s nice about using these cloud-based services with Office 2013, is that you’ll be able to access your documents from any device at any time if you have Office on your PC, tablet, or as a WebApp. Even if you open the file on a new device while you’re working, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint will save the last version you worked on, so you can pick up right where you left off.
There are some great new features to use with Touchscreen PCs or devices. Word has a new Read Mode, which will open a document in reading view and allow you to scroll through the document by swiping horizontally with your finger. If you’ve got a desktop PC with touchscreen monitor, you’ll have the option to change back to traditional page navigation mode. There is a Touch Mode button on the Quick Access Toolbar to the right of the program logo of each application. When activated, the ribbon toolbar spreads its icons apart to make them easier to access with your fingers.
Word has a couple exciting new features. One is the PDF editing capability. In the past, you couldn’t edit PDFs in Word unless they were Doc or DocX format. The new Word opens PDF files and makes them editable immediately, with the option to save as a PDF or DocX file. PDF files opened in Word will retain their format, which allows users to quickly and easily edit them. It will also be possible to embed and view videos inside of Word so that you can create more interactive documents.
Power Point has added some more intuitive ways to format images, shapes and other objects. Now users just need to right-click an image and choose Format Picture to open the new Format Picture task pane, which offers a selection of formatting options. The task pane can stay open as you work, so that it’s visible, but not in the way.
Making charts in Excel is now much easier in Office 2013, thanks to the Recommended Charts feature. Just select the data to chart and click Insert>Recommended Chart to see the options such as line, bar, and pie charts. Excel will recommend the best options for the data selected. Once you’ve selected and created your chart, small icons appear outside the top right hand corner that will allow you to easily modify chart elements, styles, color, and data.
Now you can greatly expand your graphics options in Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher, and Outlook. In addition to inserting images from your PC, you can also access images within the Office Clipart collection online, via a Bing search, or from your own SkyDrive or Flickr account. (To access your Flickr account, you must first need to authorize Office to connect to it.)