Microsoft is introducing the next version of Office in tandem with Windows 8. There are some significant changes from previous versions, pricing structure being the largest. The new Office 2013 is not Office 365, first released in 2011.
However, Microsoft is attempting to combine the two together as much as possible.
Difference between Office 365 and Office 2013
Office 2013 works on the traditional single-user license for a one-time payment. You can install it locally on your computer, and you own it once you pay. Office 365 comes as an ongoing monthly or yearly payment. The programs stream to your computers and mobile devices from a cloud-based server, and it includes email and document storage through SkyDrive.
- Office Home and Student 2013: $139.99 – Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote
- Office Home and Business 2013: $219.99 – Includes the above plus Outlook
- Office Professional 2013: $399.99 – Adds Access and Publisher
A New Pricing Structure
While those may be the listed prices for Office 2013, it’s not yet available for single-user purchase.
One thing is clear. Microsoft wants to move users to a monthly payment model as quickly as possible. Currently, Office 2013 is slated to replace Office 2010 for certain packages of the monthly payment model. The line between the two is blurring.
It appears that eventually monthly payment plans will replace one-time purchases. The benefit is that you won’t need to invest such a large amount of money upfront. Instead, Office comes more as a service that you can access and sync across multiple devices. For Office 365, prices range from $4 to $20 dollars a month for each user.
Microsoft is not just competing with Apple but other free versions of open-source software, such as OpenOffice. This new payment structure removes the high barrier to using the software and makes it more competitive with other options.
If you stop paying, then theoretically, you would lose access to the software. It’s not yet clear what happens, and Microsoft hasn’t taken a strong position on how flexible they will be enforcing payment. If previous versions are any indication, then it may come in the form of nag screens and reminders instead of outright loss of service.
So, it’s a trade off. You don’t really own the software, but you no longer need to shell out the large upfront cost.
Office 2013 Features & Benefits
Cloud storage makes it easier to collaborate across multiple computers and platforms. Share documents in group projects with easier access from multiple locations. Your team members can access documents from all their devices, including smartphones and tablet PCs.
Along with Windows 8, Microsoft introduces the Metro theme, a new style for buttons and features. Basically, you’ll notice the controls are now white and take a backseat to the content you create.
This should allow you to concentrate on your work and not the gadgets and features. One nice thing about the Metro theme is that many of the buttons are located in the same places. While the look won’t distract you, you won’t have to hunt to figure out how to do things you already know. This means your previous habits stay with you more smoothly as you migrate to the new Office 2013. Ultimately, you should get more done in less time.
Rich Media – Videos, Pictures & Text
The internet is evolving toward rich media, a mixture of words, pictures and video. Google places higher relevancy on this type of content, and Microsoft is stepping in tune with the trend. Now, your Office documents make it easier for you to include images and video alongside other information.
Office 2013 Highlights: Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook
It seems Microsoft has been listening, and you’ll find that they’ve addressed issues that have annoyed you for a while.
Here are some of the highlights:
PDF Reflow : This feature is long overdue in coming. You can finally open a PDF document and work with it as a Word document. All the text, pictures, tables and other elements remain in the same places and can be re-organized and saved.
Read Mode : To fit with the new goal of eliminating distractions, Word includes the new Read Mode. When you open a document in Word, you’ll find it easier to stay focused. The controls vanish and the content takes center stage. It includes a dictionary to look up words on the fly and a Bing search box.
Object Zoom : To make it easier for tablet users, the new Object Zoom allows you to quickly move into pictures, videos, tables and charts. Simply tap the object to zoom in and tap again to zoom out.
Present Online : This feature allows you to make presentations online even if the other person doesn’t have Microsoft Office. You simply send them a link, and they can follow along with a web browser.
Flash Fill Kiss formulas and macros goodbye, and say hello to Flash Fill. This new feature is the current buzz among Excel power users. From just one keyboard shortcut (CTRL+E), it learns your first move and fills in the rest of the data in the same way.
For example, let’s say you have a list of first and last names together. If you simply type the first name in the neighboring cell and hit CTRL+E, it will extract all the first names from the entire list. Likewise, it can automatically join two lists into one.
Remember how confusing it was to try to work with date formats? That’s no longer a problem. Flash fill can extract the day, month and year just how you want it without having to use the format option anymore. The new feature also handles combining or separating text and numbers automatically.
No longer do you have to struggle to get what you want. Flash Fill finally makes it easy to organize your data quickly.
Recommended Charts : You also save time setting up charts and graphs. Excel will recommend the most appropriate charts and graphs and fill in the data for you.
Start Screen : One of the problems for PowerPoint users has been a variation of writer’s block. It’s tough to get started quickly. Now, the new start screen sets you off in the right direction. You get a collection of powerpoint slides, and variants that make it easy to set the context of your presentation quickly.
Slide Zoom : PowerPoint also now works better with tablet PCs. You can quickly zoom in on content and highlight it for your audience.
Presenter View : While not new, you needed at least two monitors to use Presenter View in the past. Now, you can use it across all devices. Presenter view displays your current slide, your notes and the upcoming slide for smooth topic transitions.
Peeks : You won’t have to access a separate menu or window to see information about your schedule, appointments or email contacts. You’ll keep your work flowing smoothly without getting distracted.
So, those are the major highlights of the new Office.
What do you think of Office 2013?
Are you looking forward to the new Office 2013? Do you like Microsoft’s move towards the lower monthly payment, or would you rather pay the full price and own the software outright? Leave your comments below.