You may have already heard about the brand new, and currently free, release of Office 2013 (also codenamed Office 15). If not, now you have! And better yet, it’s available to anyone to download and try. So why should you upgrade to the new Office from your previous version which you have finally become familiar with?
Well, for starters, if you’re coming from Office 2010 or even 2007, the changes are quite subtle. Another reason to use Office 2013 is that it’s free. Free! Well, for now anyways. Eventually Microsoft will cut the cord, just like they did with Office 2010 Beta, but you might as well use it while you can! If you do use it, don’t forget to check out our free Office 2013 guide!
Another reason is to familiarize yourself ahead of time if you plan on getting it, which after using its much-improved interface, you definitely will want to. And even if you don’t plan on buying it, you get to use some pretty neat features.
To download the new Office 2013, go to the primary Office 2013 Preview page and click Try. Pick a version – it will likely be Home Premium Preview – and follow the download process. If you are going to install it right away, I offer this one piece of advice: Don’t cancel the installation for one reason or another. Go through with it. I will explain more later about my experience. The installation process is pretty straightforward and it pretty much takes care of it all by itself, with the exception of a “Continue” button here and there. The main part is entering the product key. Once you’ve installed it, you may be prompted to enter the key right away. If you do not, you can go to “Account” (second option to the bottom on the left side) and you will see where to enter your key there. And you’re all set!
Major Changes And New Features
Although Office 2013 resembles Office 2010 quite a bit, there have been some excellent improvements.
Obviously Office 2007 was the version that took a big leap to the new interface, which some people liked and some not so much. However, Office 2010 and 2013 both have done a fantastic job of beautifying the ribbon-style menu and really made it easy to use. You can certainly see the Windows 8 look (previously called Metro and other things) manifested in Office 2013 with it’s clean, modern look.
Although it’s not necessarily a new feature, the ability to customize the ribbon is quite nice. If you often feel overwhelmed by the amount of options, you can choose to hide them by going to File > Options > Customize Ribbon.
Unfortunately the background color cannot be adjusted like in previous versions of Office. I really liked the ability to turn the color to a darker theme to make it easier on my eyes. Frankly, this is really the only complaint I have about the entire program – it is just too bright. If you aren’t digging the default clouds, you can change them to a different “theme” by going to Account and choosing which background you’d prefer.
Something else that stood out to me was the overall smoothness of the program, even the cursor glides from one character to the next as you type. It makes you feel as if you’re gliding through the document.
Into The Cloud With SkyDrive
Office 2013 allows you to save and open documents directly to and from SkyDrive – quite a game changer since Microsoft has the leading office suite and with cloud storage tightly integrated, it could blow the other services out of the water to where not even Dropbox or Google Drive (the two most similar services) could compete.
Of course you can easily share documents from Office too. First the process includes uploading to SkyDrive and then choosing the contact you’d like to share the file with. Even if they don’t have Office, they can edit and/or view the document in Microsoft Web Apps. Other options are emailing, presenting it online or publishing it as a blog post.
A Quick Mention Of My Installation Process
If you remember, earlier I said how I ran into a bit of an issue during the installation process. I am not exactly sure what happened, but I kept getting an error and the only way I can explain it was that after I had started the installation process, I realized I didn’t want to mess with it at that point and canceled it, and that is what caused this to happen. Complete removal of the installed files wouldn’t even fix the issue and all I had to go off was this:
After desperate measures, I found a link through a Google search, which helped me find an alternative download on Microsoft of Office 2013 Preview. Again, I can’t explain why it happened, nor if it has happened to others. But I will say this: go through with the installation all the way. Don’t change your mind part of the way into it and decide to do it later once you’ve already started the process. I think if you do this, you shouldn’t run into the issue that I did.
Overall, I really like the new release. Of course there are a few quirks and complaints, as always, but that is always the case with technology. The great thing is that Microsoft is making huge strides to improve an already great program. With cloud integration, a clean, user-friendly interface and added menu function, Office 2013 is a fantastic contender to all other office suites, free or not, on the market. Once again it has set the bar high, leaving other programs only wishing they could reach it.
But perhaps you aren’t a big Office fan though. What should you do? Well, I definitely would suggest giving Office 2013 a try, since it’s free. If you still decide that you don’t like it, you can check out the best, free alternatives to Microsoft Office.
What do you think of the new Office? Can you see yourself using the cloud more and more now with the tight integration? Do you think there was anything that should have been included in Office 2013 that Microsoft “forgot”?