With the 3 year milestone since Office 2010 was released being just around the corner, Microsoft have made available the customer preview of Office 2013. It is free for you to download on up to five different computers.
With Office 2013, Microsoft are focusing on the cloud, mobile devices and touchscreens.
The ribbon is still with us, although it looks flatter, but there is now the option to hide it, thereby maximising the workspace for smaller display screens. The familiar swiping and pinch-to-zoom commands of touchscreens are also there as well.
To use Office 2013, you need to sign in with your Windows Live account. This enables Office to use the cloud to synchronise and keep your documents up to date, regardless of which computer you use (providing there is internet access).
Office 2013 First Glance
The new ribbon seems the same as far as functionality goes. However, the whole user interface looks much flatter.
Here is a sample screenshot from PowerPoint 2013:
.. and here’s a similar image for Word 2013:
The removal of the 3D look to the ribbon and the commands therein moves the interface’s appearance closer to that of a web application, and further away from that of a desktop application. With the emphasis being on the cloud, maybe that’s a deliberate move.
Because you sign in using your Windows Live account, you get to see your profile picture in the top right corner of the workspce. I haven’t yet found a way of using Office 2013 without signing in this way, and find it a pain that they force me to sign in! It makes you wonder whether Microsoft are targeting software pirates with this new signing in requirement.
I haven’t seen much new functionality either. If most of the new features are related to Office use on touchscreen devices, and the use of the cloud behind the scenes, must users will not be aware of any new functionality.