While a core group at Redmond have been working tirelessly on Windows 8 another group has been hard at work on Microsoft’s next Office version, Office 2013. Today the customer preview was released to the general public and you can test it out by visiting the Office Customer Preview site. You will need a free Microsoft account if you don’t already have one.
The biggest change users will notice is the updated interface that is less “flashy” than those of the past and more akin to the “flat” style used in Microsoft’s Windows 8. The other big news is Office 2013’s ability to accept touch input. In fact, Windows 8 on ARM platforms will ship with Word 2013, Excel 2013, PowerPoint 2013, and OneNote 2013. All Office 2013 applications also have the ability to go full screen by hiding the ribbon interface, which will be a boon for tablet users with touch screens.
Of note is all Office 2013 applications will be desktop applications in Windows 8. This means they will not operate within the new Windows 8 Metro Start Menu, but within the Windows 8 desktop environment.
Other Changes in Office 2013
1. SkyDrive integragion (cloud storage)
2. Keyboard, mouse, and touch control allows the Office suite to be used across multiple platforms (computer, laptop, tablet, mobile)
3. Subscription services in addition to the normal “installed” programs
4. Third-party integration with services such as Facebook, Flickr, Yammer, and Skype
5. Integrated Bing search
6. Roaming capability which will allow you access to your files, templates, etc across multiple devices
7. Both Lync and OneNote have a native user interface built specifically for the Metro interface
8. Streamlined reply function in Outlook
9. Removal of support for Windows XP and Windows Vista
Overall, nothing truly fantastic, but more of a general revamp and update. There are screenshots below, but you should download the Office 2013 Customer Preview and have a look for yourself!