Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Microsoft Unveils Office 2013 Customer Preview

During a live press event yesterday in San Francisco Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage to introduce the company's latest office productivity suite, Office 13. The new Office suite has been reworked adding in several new features, cloud integration and a new touch friendly interface that will make it more compatible with Windows 8 and touch-screen tablets.

For those of you eager to get your hands on the new software you won't have to wait. Microsoft has posted a Customer Preview of Office 2013 for download here. Office 13 has dumped support for most of Microsoft's older operating systems so you'll need to be running Windows 7 or the Release Preview of Windows 8 in order to install it. You will notice the Customer Preview runs a preview of Office 365 Home Premium Preview. In the end, you're still able to use the newly announced features, but have to go through Office 365 to do so.

Office 2013 New Features:

The latest update to the Microsoft Office Suite brings several new features. Some you'll notice right off, some you might not. Some of them I really like, some I really not sure about!

Office 13 Gets A New Look: Right off you'll notice a slight different user interface. It is markedly different like the change from previous version but it is a tad different. The ribbon look remains, though the text and the icons inside it are a bit larger and are spaced farther apart. This change should make it easier for navigation on touchscreen displays.

Office goes to the Cloud: You'll see more cloud integration as Office 13 saves documents to SkyDrive by default, so your content is always available across your tablet, PC and phone. Your documents are also available offline and sync when you reconnect. This alos allows for roaming profiles. So once you are signed in to Office, your personalized settings, including your most recently used files, templates and even your custom dictionary, roam with you across virtually all of your devices. Office even remembers where you last left off and brings you right back to that spot in a single click.

Office on Demand: With a subscription, you can access Office even when you are away from your PC by streaming full-featured applications to an Internet-connected Windows-based PC. New subscription services. The new Office is also available as a cloud-based subscription service. As subscribers, consumers automatically get future upgrades in addition to exciting cloud services including Skype world minutes and extra SkyDrive storage. Subscribers receive multiple installs for everyone in the family and across their devices.

Touch Integration: Office 13 adds much better support for touch based devices. The software has better support and responds to touch much better than previous version. You can use it on a tablet or touchscreen device as naturally with your fingers as you would a keyboard and mouse. Swipe your finger across the screen or pinch and zoom to read your documents and presentations. Author new content and access features with the touch of a finger. You can even use a new feature called Inking. This allows you to use a stylus to create content, take notes and access features. You can handwrite email responses and convert them automatically to text. Use your stylus as a laser pointer when presenting or a a paint brush to color your content and erase your mistakes.

New Windows 8 applications: OneNote and Lync represent the first new Windows 8 style applications for Office. These applications are designed to deliver touch-first experiences on a tablet. A new radial menu in OneNote makes it easy to access features with your finger. Included in Windows RT. Office Home and Student 2013 RT, which contains new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote applications, will be included on ARM-based Windows 8 devices, including Microsoft Surface.

Office 13 Gets Social: The new Office comes with Skype. When you subscribe, you get 60 minutes of Skype world minutes every month. Integrate Skype contacts into Lync and call or instant message anyone on Skype. There is also Yammer integration. Yammer delivers a secure, private social network for businesses. You can sign up for free and begin using social networking instantly. Yammer offers integration with SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics.

For more details on the new features in Office 13 read the full Microsoft press release. You can download the Office 2013 Preview now or for the more traditional installer you can download the Office 2013 MSI (you'll need to register for the download) and for more details checkout the Office Customer Preview FAQ. Microsoft has also created the Office Next Blog, which will likely highlight details of the upcoming release as well as features and how-to's for getting the most out of your software.

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