Microsoft released the preview version of Office 2013 less than a week ago. This new installment of the productivity suite has many of the same features as its previous versions, 2003, 2007, and 2010: Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, and Outlook. But there are other programs as well, and Microsoft has connected the Office Suite to the Azure Cloud.
In this review I’ll discuss the requirements for installation and the installation process. I’ll also discuss the contents of three of the Office 2013 suite programs, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and how the cloud-based Office 365 may change the way many users work with the suite. I’ll also talk about Windows 8 integration, and wrap up with a discussion about the impact that Office 2013 can have in business enterprises.
For Starters: The Requirements
Okay, let’s talk about the requirements for Office 2013. It will run on Windows 7 and Windows 8, on desktop PCs, notebooks, tablets, and mobile phones, or on Windows Server 2008 R2 or later. The Office 2013 family includes a large number of desktop apps as well as server products like Exchange and SharePoint. Office 2013 will not run on Windows XP or Vista; this means that more than half of all computers currently running Windows will need an upgrade first.
Office 2013 Preview Requirements
Computer and processor
1 gigahertz (Ghz) or faster x86- or x64-bit processor with SSE2 instruction set
1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32 bit); 2 gigabytes (GB) RAM (64 bit)
3.0 gigabytes (GB) available
Graphics hardware acceleration requires a DirectX10 graphics card and 1024 x 576 resolution
Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Server 2008 R2, or Windows Server 2012
Microsoft Internet Explorer 8, 9, or 10; Mozilla Firefox 10.x or a later version; Apple Safari 5; or Google Chrome 17.x.
3.5, 4.0, or 4.5
A touch-enabled device is required to use any multi-touch functionality.
Installation. So you decide to get Office 2013. Now what? First you must download and install the preview edition. You will be guided to the Windows Live ID screen, to get access. When you sign in you are given the option to download a Click-to-Run installer that handles the entire installation online. You must remain connected to the Internet until the installation is complete.
One new feature is that you can install Office 2013 on up to five PCs. The system allows you to deactivate the installed copy of Office from one or more devices so that you can install it on a new device. Once the installation is in place, you will see the suite appear on the start menu, in programs.
Roaming Apps, With the attention given to using Office on different devices, what if you want to use an app that is not installed, is that possible? A new feature, Roaming Apps, will allow you to use an individual app on a device where Office 2013 is not installed. First, sign in to your Microsoft Office account, open SkyDrive, and then open a document using the Office Web App. Click or tap File and then click or tap Edit to display the screen. But Roaming Apps is just one of the features, here are others.
The 2013 Office Suite
So what are the main differences between Office 2013 and 2010? Microsoft has moved Office to the cloud, just as it did with the Windows 8 operating system. What this means is that Office users can benefit from synchronization features to work with their own personal settings on all computers they sign in to.
The settings are stored in Microsoft’s cloud and synced automatically with SkyDrive, SharePoint and local drives Office is launched from.
This opens another interesting possibility, as you can continue to work on a document even if you switch computers, for instance after leaving work and going home.
Users who sign in to Office will automatically have Office select SkyDrive as the preferred save location for documents.
Word 2013. Here is what you get with Word. New templates and design tools help you put the finishing touch on documents, and you’ll find new and updated ways to share and work with others. There is an improved screen-reading experience. How? Well a new Read Mode Text reflows automatically in columns to make it easier to read. And Object Zoom allows you to view tables, charts, images, or online videos, a finger tap or mouse click in greater detail. When you’re done, another tap or click returns them to their original size.
Also, Word automatically bookmarks your last-visited spot. So if you step away, and return you can pick up where you left off– even if you are on a different PC or tablet.
Windows 8 Integration
As mentioned before, Office 2013 will only run on Windows 7, Windows 8, or Server 2008 R2 or later. Of especial importance is how this Office Suite will integrate with Windows 8. Microsoft has made a large commitment to the new operating system. This commitment comes from the fact that they are geared to change how Windows works with PCs.
The big move for Microsoft is not Metro, but touch. The touchscreen will change the character of user interaction. Sure at the beginning there will be resistance, but over time users will look at the touch technology as the best thing since sliced bread. Why? Because it will be more natural to use. The keyboard and mouse won’t disappear but they will have their use changed.
But there is another impact. The tablet. Microsoft has struggled for years to find a device that will compete with the iPad. They think Surface will be that device, because the tablet is self-contained. Meaning, that as the OS works on a device where the CPU will take full advantage of it, and then with Apps and the Office Suite 2013 or Office 365 integrated into the OS, there will be a high level of value built in since the hardware and OS will work in ways that have not occurred before.