Microsoft has just released a preview version of Office 15 (or Office 2013) which can be used on Windows 7 and the Windows 8 preview release. With this new version of Office, Microsoft is moving to the cloud. The software can be installed on multiple devices and documents always go with you as they are stored in the cloud by default. Speaking of tablets, the entire interface is more touch-screen friendly now, but applications like Word and Excel aren’t very different from current versions. We’ve had a quick look and tried Word 2013, here are our finds…
Make sure you have a Windows ID if you want to install Office 2013. The download only worked for us on Windows 8 (using IE10) and we had to login. Once logged in we could download a small file (487Kb) that started the installation. On the account page we could see that the Office 365 Home Premium Preview account we got is good for installation on 5 devices and of course we received space to save our documents on Microsoft Skydrive. Interestingly, the software reported that while it wasn’t 100% installed, it could be used, and indeed it worked, while installation finished 10 minutes later.
After the installation all individual Office 2013 applications become available on the Metro Start screen. Nothing was added to the desktop, so the only way to fire up Word 2013 was trough Metro.
While Word 2013 isn’t Metro, it is. Microsoft has clearly taken the approach of getting us slowly used to its new GUI. Most of Word looks like its previous version, but when opening a file or creating a new document, you get Metro right in your face. For the rest, you’ll get the ribbon like you’re used too and very consistent in all Office 2013 applications is your name in the right corner remembering that you’re connected to the cloud. Also consistently available is a button next to the usual minimize, close and resize button to go fullscreen.
Feature wise there is too much for a quick look to see any differences with previous Word versions but the major features we’ve seen is that it’s easier to add videos and the ability to edit PDF files. We’ve also tried the Webapps feature of Office and inserted the Merriam Webster dictionary app. While the installation of the app was more complex than expected, the app worked as expected. When selecting a word in the document, the app gave us details on the word in a sidebar on the right of the screen. Currently there is a small selection of free apps available.
Saving a document is by default in the cloud, but it’s also possible to store files on the local computer. Speaking of the cloud, updates are also distributed this way and will install automatically.
More information on Office 2013 can be found in the Microsoft press release. We thought we’d give you a quick insight on one of the most used Office applications, Word and we have mixed feelings. Our general conclusion would be that Microsoft seems to be quietly sneaking Metro in, while the ribbon is mainly still there, they changed its looks a bit and introduced a new style, more close to Metro. Metro isn’t really visible, until you want to open a file or create a new document. We guess this is how the general public will get acquainted with Metro, step by step and only the future will tell how much more of Metro we’ll see in future Office versions.
Moving to the cloud seems an obvious one, as tablets become more important, people switch between laptops and desktops and are more mobile in general. The ease of having all files available from one place, everywhere you go, is a pleasing thought, but only when your internet connection is reliable and when Microsoft will have no major Skydrive outages.
Is it worth buying? If you’re fine with the current versions there is not much of an incentive to upgrade, but about the same goes for an upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8. The major changes when moving to the newer versions seems a difference in the overall design, if that’s an improvement, that’s debatable.