Preview Of A Preview: Microsoft Office 2013 At A Glance

Aaron Couch 24-09-2012

office 2013You 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 Microsoft Office 2013: The Unofficial Guide If you're considering an upgrade to Office 2013, or you've just paid for the package and want to make the best of it, this Microsoft Office 2013 Guide is for you. Read More !

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 [No Longer Available]. 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. microsoft office 2013The 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.


office 2013 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.


microsoft office 2013 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.

microsoft office 2013 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.

ms office 2013

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.

ms office 2013

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.

ms office 2013


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:

office 2013 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 The 7 Best Free Microsoft Office Alternatives Microsoft Office is the king of office suites, but that doesn't mean it's the right one for you. Here are some other office suites you might like better! Read More .


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”?

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  1. Chad
    October 5, 2012 at 7:52 am

    I know that this is a "preview," but generally we use previews to decide what to watch/buy/work with. If this preview is a reflection of the final product, then I'd rather chisel my documents into stone.

    The interface is fine. The changes are fine. The abject lack of stability? Horrifying. I've tried this on an existing Windows 7 install, an upgraded Windows 8 install, and a fresh Windows 8 install, and in each instance Office 2013 was crash and error prone. Given this preview, I can't see spending the money for the experience of losing work and documents.

    Yes, I am aware that using a preview means risk. But on the other hand, the preview is meant to convince me to buy later. This has done the opposite.

  2. Sumaiya
    September 30, 2012 at 11:45 am

    i would love to try it

  3. Scott MacDonald
    September 26, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    I don't know why, but I can't not get updated software. I just love trying new things, so I can't wait for this download to finish.

    • Aaron Couch
      October 1, 2012 at 2:43 am

      I'm the same way Scott! Thanks for reading!

  4. Deekshith Allamaneni
    September 26, 2012 at 4:27 am

    I still hate this Ribbon UI. Ubuntu's approach of "Heads On Display" is a much more refined idea to access menus.

  5. Kshitij Verma
    September 25, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    We all can now see a great change in microsoft. Previously, their products used to be a necessity, but not a desire of the consumer. Now after more than a decade, they have changed the logo, did a full interface overhaul of most of the products like the windows phone 7, the new outlook and now this. Usually companies change slowly and gradually, but microsoft in my opinion has just jumped right to it. Now their products being slightly more desirable than before, they are now slightly uneasy to use for the people who have been using microsoft's products for years (take me for example). But I don't have to worry, because after change, I adapt. Humans adapt.
    So may i request people to stop cursing the new microsoft interface design, adapt to the change, move on and get a life .

  6. Pavels Ostrovskis
    September 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Is this preview version reliable and made free only for marketing reasons? Have you run into any stability issues while testing it? I've had some bad experience with betas, and even a single crash or freeze while working on an important document can create a lot of headache for me.

    Sorry if there'll be a double post, it seems I had some weird problems with logging in. Clearing cookies have solved it though.

    • Aaron Couch
      October 1, 2012 at 2:43 am

      I haven't run into any crashing issues or loss of work while testing. Of course any pre-release like this is kind of for marketing purposes to get the word out. But hey it's free right? There aren't any drawbacks in trying it, so why not?

  7. Yashodhan Bhatt
    September 25, 2012 at 8:39 am

    Good to try...lets see what microsoft has in store for us this time...

  8. nichoclon
    September 25, 2012 at 7:46 am

    looks nice. cant wait to try.

  9. Scott
    September 25, 2012 at 2:08 am

    This is a Trial version of the Office 15 software and yes that is "free", but trials expire and then you have to buy. I see nothing on the that indicates it's free foever. This should not be confused with freeware see pricing info here -

    • Aaron Couch
      October 1, 2012 at 2:38 am

      Scott, I believe I make that quite clear in the introduction that this is only free for a short time. Although this isn't "trial." As it is, it's free, until Microft ends the time allocated for it to work. But in no time will you ever be prompted to upgrade by MS, which is what I think of when I think of trial software.

      Thanks for commenting!

  10. venkatp16
    September 25, 2012 at 1:24 am

    You mean we no need to buy this??

  11. Carolyn
    September 24, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    It would be good to own this!

  12. idogcow
    September 24, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    From their FAQ page: "It isn’t possible to install on a PC running Windows XP or Vista."

    Well, that's that.

  13. Ramjot Singh
    September 24, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    One thing which author forgot to write u can use Office while it is being installed(downloaded and installed). Which to me is a great a feature.

    • Douglas Mutay
      November 8, 2012 at 3:22 pm

      Really!? Wow! yes, that's definitively a great feature!

  14. Fritz
    September 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    If I don't want to keep it after the preview, will my computer revert to my previous version of Office (Office 2010, which I already purchased)? I couldn't find out that information on the preview page.

    • Lee
      September 24, 2012 at 9:57 pm

      I think it will probably just prompt you to buy the new version.
      However, if you already purchased Office 2010, you should be able to just install it with the disk. If you downloaded it, see if you can re-download it on MS's site, or use *other means* and then use your key to activate (which is completely legal as far as I know).

      • Fritz
        September 25, 2012 at 4:10 pm

        Thanks, Lee. I went to the Preview page, clicked on Learn More, and then on FAQ. The Preview installs alongside your current Office version and you can use both. When the Preview ends, you can still read or print what you created with the Preview version, but you can't edit any of it or create new files with it. No need for any re-installations.

        • Aaron Couch
          October 1, 2012 at 2:40 am

          So your question was answered Fritz? Thanks for the further explanation!

      • Aaron Couch
        October 1, 2012 at 2:40 am

        Thanks for helping answer this Lee.

  15. Joel Lee
    September 24, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    I expect a lot of outcry concerning the interface change, but what can you do. People hate change, but I think it's nice. Looks like it would be easy to learn.

    • Aaron Couch
      October 1, 2012 at 2:41 am

      I'd say so. It's pretty white, but I do like the clean look and the ribbon interface is much simpler to learn.