This week the folks at Microsoft have introduced Office 2013 to the universe, complete with a cloud-connected user experience that takes the central word processing and document experience into the future. You'll be asked to work with SkyDrive as well as the full Office 365 package to store your files online at all times right out of the box - you don't have to, but the process you're working with here essentially says, "why not?"
This version of Microsoft's Office takes the aesthetics into the modern world, complete with flat graphics and texture-less interfaces all around. You've got some slightly more touch-friendly bits and pieces here and there as well, but overall you'll find this experience just as or more user-friendly for all machines than its ever been before. Office 2013 is made for any kind of computer, but a keyboard and a mouse will still allow you to do your work fastest.
If you do plan on working with Office 365 for a full set of cloud functionalities, you'll be tossing down $100 USD per year. If it's worth that amount to have all of your documents in the cloud ready for editing anywhere, collaborating with colleagues anywhere, and getting software updates without thinking about them, then have at it! This amount of cash also essentially makes your Office experience a remote one, allowing you to work with documents in what's essentially a full standard user experience in a browser whenever you like.
But there's the point at which you'll be deciding whether you want a full official Office work environment or if you're all about Google Docs. We're expecting that businesses across the board will be switching over to Office 365 sooner than later to make their end-user experience as smooth as possible. Office documents edited in the cloud are completely compatible with Office 2013 applications offline, this making the start-to-finish experience easy for all users.
Beyond Office 365's online experience, your Office 2013 setup is extremely similar to past iterations of Office, with the biggest changes coming in the way you're able to interact with the individual apps. There are new standard layouts in PowerPoint, OneNote is now working virtually with SkyDrive, and again, all of the interfaces are made with slightly larger buttons than past iterations so you're able to easily work with your touchscreen computer. Office 2013 may not be limited to Windows 8, but it's certainly been designed with Windows 8 touch machines in mind first and foremost.
Outlook 2013 has taken the better points of the re-boot of Outlook.com from 2012 and make it into an email program worth using on the desktop. You'll find that in-line replies to contacts, quick previews of emails with mouse hovers, and instant connections to all of your Microsoft account contacts make for an extremely enticing alternative to whatever other desktop email solution you're using now.
Access 2013 is an app that most users will likely never touch - but if you're all about desktop asset tracking, creating custom web apps and home databases, and project management in general, you'll be good to go. This is the new premiere tool for making your asset tracking a reality. Excel, Word, and PowerPoint continue to be the name-brand heroes of their own fields of course, only seeing improvements in this newest iteration of the Office suite.
The bottom line is that this upgrade is necessary for everyone who is at the top of their field in Office-centric workplaces and you'll certainly want to consider adding the extra $100 a year to be fully cloud connected if you're an on-the-go editor. If you're an average everyday Office user, you'll also want to consider the $140 USD for the standard version of Office 2013 for a full upgrade - it's just a whole lot prettier.
You can purchase Office 2013 from Microsoft right this minute and download the whole suite in no time at all - it took us around 10 minutes from start to finish - real deal! Have a peek at the timeline below to see additional insight on the Office 2013 suite and Office 365 as well, and be sure to ask any questions you may have about the software below as this is a Live Review!