Microsoft Office 2013 is by no means a revolutionary update to the venerable office suite but this is the first version of Microsoft Office that is serious about cloud integration and having a touch friendly interface.
SkyDrive will be the back bone of Microsoft Office 2013. Settings, documents, templates, and even custom user dictionaries will all be synced to the cloud so that you have a consistent Office experience on whatever device, wherever you are.
There are also new social features shown in Microsoft Office 2013 including automatic picture importing from services like Facebook and Flickr. Easier sharing also brings along easier collaboration. Users can now hold a multi-person video conference while editing a single document.
Let's take a deeper look at the specific programs that come in Microsoft Office 2013.
Microsoft kept the ribbon interface (love it or hate it) in PowerPoint 2013, but it is now hidden by default on the Window RT version of Microsoft Office 2013. You can bring up the ribbon with a tap of a button. The ribbon can also be hidden on the desktop version with a simple double click.
PowerPoint will also feature full stylus support to make giving presentations easier. Users can annotate their slides instantly. There's also a great new feature where the presenter can have notes on his or her screen but only have the main slide open on the audience's screen.
Outlook 2013 is receiving a Metro-styled interface as well, but with lots of new functionality too. First of all, Aero Peek, a feature that was first introduced in Windows 7, makes its way into Outlook. With Aero Peek, users can now quickly hover over their Contacts, Calendar, or Tasks and have a fully manipulable pop up display.
One of the more impressive features that was built into Outlook 2013 is its ability to intelligently suggest events and appointments. Outlook will detect when someone wants to create an appointment by looking for locations, time, and specific keywords. This makes adding events to your calendar much easier.
Last but not least, Microsoft also announced powerful developer tools to create plugins for Outlook. They demoed a fully interactive Bing map within a body of an email, without having to jump into a browser.
Word 2013 didn't receive as much of an overhaul, but Microsoft worked hard on polishing it up. Settings, defaults, templates and user dictionaries will all be synced between each version of Word so you'll have one unified user experience with Word on every one of your devices. There's a new reading mode that formats your documents to be touch friendly like pages of a book. Videos from YouTube can now be embedded directly within documents.
OneNote has always been an excellent note taking app and this latest version is no different. Users can import pictures, video, and annotate all of these things within the application. Microsoft demoed its new "radial menu" for touch friendly editing. Hold down and a circular menu will pop up. Drag your finger to whatever option you want and let go. This interface is intuitive and powerful, letting users change fonts, colors, and formatting within seconds. Unfortunately, this touch menu has only been featured in the OneNote MX preview application.
Microsoft finally acknowledged how complicated Excel is for the average user. Excel 2013 is still going to be a powerful tool for data analysis, but Microsoft has made an effort to simplify processes across the application. Users now have access to menus that preform "quick analysis" for their data, simply by selecting an option from a menu. Excel looks at the data and offers the best solution for presenting or organizing it.
While Microsoft Office 2013 received some nice updates, there was nothing revolutionary that was announced. Microsoft played the catch-up game with Microsoft Office 2013, giving its office suite many features its competitors like Google Drive and Apple Mail have had for a while.
Microsoft Office 2013 creates a nice ecosystem for those already using their office suite but it may not be enough to woo users from other services or applications that are free. Microsoft also announced that Microsoft Office 2013 will only be compatible with Windows 7 and Windows 8. XP and Vista users will be left out in the cold.
Overall, Microsoft Office 2013 offers some huge improvements over its previous versions with great cloud and touch features but this may not be enough for it to say as the king of office suites.