BY | February 5, 2013

Merely a week before its next generation Surface Pro tablet release date, Microsoft has launched its Office 2013 and Office 365 in the market

Microsoft is on a dream run of sorts, launching the next generation Windows software almost back to back. After Windows 8 for computers and tablets, Windows Phone 8 for smartphones, Microsoft recently unveiled its latest software suite of Office, Microsoft Office 2013.

Office is Microsoft’s flagship software offering document processing applications. The Office series includes popular programs such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Access, Outlook and others.

Though much was expected from the Office 2013 update, the release has got mixed response from users and tech bloggers alike. “We are taking bold steps at Microsoft,” Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft said at the launch of the Customer Preview version of the software. The new Office is fully compatible with touch, stylus, mouse or keyboard across any of the devices Microsoft Office is available for, which includes tablets as well.

Office 2013 sports a redesigned interface with cloud support added to the applications suite. Many see the addition of cloud support as a Microsoft tactic to push its SkyDrive cloud storage service along with the software. The cloud backup allows the documents to be accessed from anywhere in the world, with ease. The cloud integration allows for cross platform access to the documents as well, that is a document saved from the PC can be viewed on the tablet without the need to transfer the file. A Microsoft account is required for the service.

Microsoft Office 2013 has a cleaner looking interface which brings more sharpness to the area of work. The toning down of appearance can be a cue from Microsoft’s design strategy with Windows 8, which goes for the minimalistic approach. The white playground is the first version of Office to support touch interface. Swipe your finger to flip the page, pinch to zoom in the documents. With a stylus support, notes can be made, convert handwriting to text, or use the stylus as a laser pointer during presentations.

Office 2013 also goes the app way in this iteration. The Office suite includes OneNote and Lync which are two applications based on Windows 8 design. Office will also have Skype integrated into the applications, which will give a user 60 minutes of world minutes free every month. The Skype contacts can be added to Lync to contact anyone on Skype.

The new Office also has some other interesting set of features which includes Reading Mode, which leaves only the text on the screen. It allows an easy way to navigate through pages by automatically adjusting large and small screens, making it easier for a user to read. Presenter View in the PowerPoint shows all the necessary details related to the presentation, such as current and upcoming slides, presentation time, speaker notes etc. Lync will provide multi-party HD videos with presentation and virtual whiteboard for collaborative brainstorming.

The latest Office works on the familiar model of the previous versions making it much easier to adapt and get used to.

There’s also a Flash Fill feature in Excel which automatically analyses the data and predicts values for empty cells which it fills with just a click of the Flash Fill button.

The Outlook service has also seen an improvement by integration with popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The integrated feature would allow a user to send messages to their social media contacts directly from Outlook.

The Office 2013 also offers an annual paid subscription of its cloud-based software suite called Office 365. The web-based service faces competition from other free software suites such as Google Docs, which offers cloud-based office applications without any charge.

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