Microsoft Unveils Office 2013 with new Metro StylingMicrosoft has made quite a big deal about its new Microsoft Office suite, holding a fair-sized press conference for the announcement. The new version, Office 2013--codenamed Office 15--does bring in a slew of modern features that previous versions lacked. But the real changes aren't in how you use the software, but how the software works.
First, the most obvious changes. The ribbon is here to stay, unfortunately, but at least now you can hide it with the click of a button. That works in all Office apps, by the way, from Outlook to Word. Word doesn't have too many new touch-oriented features, but it does include a nifty reading mode that lets you page through your document like an ebook.
Another interesting feature is that you can now embed web video in your documents, and have them appear as if they were in the document itself. Finally, Word now has full PDF support. While previous versions did handle PDF's to a degree, the process has been made simpler.
The other programs largely saw the same incremental-style changes, maintaining the mouse-and-keyboard-based interaction. But Outlook and Powerpoint both saw major overhauls, making them touch-oriented and simple to use on a device without a keyboard or mouse, like, say, a Windows RT ARM tablet.
But the biggest change for Office 2013 is the move to a cloud-powered environment. Microsoft is touting the ability to create a document on your desktop and then edit it on your (Windows) phone, as long as you have an internet connection. The cloud keeps the document in-sync across the different devices without having to fiddle with transferring the file back and forth. You can even access a personalized version of Office on any machine with the same version--assuming that you have saved your personalizations to the cloud and that the computer has an internet connection.
Basically Microsoft is trying to combine the ubiquity of something like Google Docs with the software model it knows and loves. You can edit documents locally on the Office installed on your machine, but then stream a fully-featured Office client to any other Windows machine supported--as long as you have a Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium Subscription. This subscription isn't required, but it really is a major bit of value-added over Google's cloud-based offerings.
One last bit of news: Office 2013 won't support Windows XP or Vista. But then, if you are still on one of those, well, you probably wouldn't want this upgrade anyways.