Generally, Office 2013 works pretty similar to Office 2010, with an interface heavily reliant on the ribbons. Now, I’ve always been a fan of the ribbons, which I thought were a good idea in Office 2007 but really came into their own with Office 2010. It’s been six years since they debuted, so anyone that is still complaining about Ribbon UI should really get over it, especially now that Windows Explorer uses it as well. 

The aesthetic has been updated to match the Metro visual style that forms the basis of the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 UIs. This visual style has left me a bit cold in Windows 8 Desktop - I like the UI chrome in Windows 7, I feel it gives the interface some three-dimensionality and offers more natural interactions. But in Office, the chromeless aesthetic is awesome. I think it works really, really well in Word and PowerPoint especially, where the starkness and simplicity of the UI (particularly in the hidden command or hidden Ribbon modes) gives you a very blank slate to work from. It’s clean and pure in a very fundamental sense, with no visual distractions at all in the UI. 

I’ll also note that the refreshed interface has little to no effect on Excel, which has looked and felt exactly the same since I first used it in Office 97 as a five year old. It’s like the Porsche 911 - no matter what changes under the hood, externally it has looked the same for decades it seems like. Not that it’s a bad thing, since I love the 911 and love-hate Excel, but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless. 

Generally, it seems like the Office 2013 has a much stronger focus on the visual style of the content being created than I’ve noticed in previous editions of Office. There’s much more aesthetic polish, with rich templates that aren’t worthless like they have been in many previous editions of Office, nicely styled titles and headers, and many more document design capabilities. Until you use it, it’s really difficult to overstate how much cleaner documents that come out of Office 2013 look. It’s now much easier to create content that are visually pleasing - documents and presentations that just look good and are easy to read without needing to spend a ton of time on formatting. 

Microsoft is including two input modes: mouse (Office as we know and love it) and touch, which expands the size and spacing between menu options for a more finger-friendly interface without dumbing it down. Look closely at the below screenshot versus the one at the top of the page to get an idea of what I'm talking about. It’s decent to use, but obviously, creating content using the touchscreen keyboard is an outright pain, so this is more for navigation, minor editing, and formatting changes. You will obviously get more out of any office suite with a traditional keyboard and mouse setup, but the new Office at least has a more touch-centric UI as an option. 

Introduction and Setup A Quick Look at Office 2013
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  • quickbunnie - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    No outlook.

    If you don't use outlook and have only 1 computer, this round is a big value loss.
    If you do, Vivek's pricing value is valid.
  • Ant-Acid - Sunday, March 10, 2013 - link

    But it's not the same bundle. The old Home and Student is Word/Excel/Powerpoint/OneNote. The HP also has Publisher/Access/Outlook.

    Most Mum's and Dad's want Publisher as well so the new Office 365 HP is excellent value (Source: I retailed PC's from 2000-2010).

    In my house of 5 it is cheaper to subscribe for 10yrs than to purchase the included software outright, and you get the upgrades to the new versions free when the release with the subscription.
  • JediJeb - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - link

    MS just wants to switch everyone over to a rental model so they can maintain a constant revenue stream. For people like me we can function perfectly well running Office95 if only it would still load on newer machines. Honestly there is absolutely nothing the newer Office versions offer that I need above what the older versions offered.

    Another problem I would have switching to Office365 would be the need for constant internet access to make it operate. Even at work we often suffer from internet outages that can last all day, are we supposed to just shut down because our apps quit working?

    Microsoft hates the fact that I could purchase a piece of software and function perfectly well with it for 10 years, because that means they can not receive a constant stream of money. At work we just got rid of our last W95 machine a couple years ago, a W3.1 box a year before that and still have two running WinNT4, MS really hates us I am sure, but if they function as needed, why spend money?

    5-10 years is definitely not uncommon in many shops, especially if the budgets are tight.
  • mayankleoboy1 - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    No info on how well excel performs ? If it supports better multithreading, or uses more SSE4/SSE4.1/AVX instructions ? Are calculations faster ?
    Are image manipulation faster in powerpoint ?

    Also, how well does the UI use the GPU/Direct2D ? (which was supposed to be a big change in Win8. Remember "Everything accelerated" blog )
  • philosofool - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link


    It's office, dude. If you can run Vista or later, this will run just fine. You could wonder about performance, but for the vast majority of users, performance increases won't even be noticeable, much less valuable. I used to be able to slow excel down by making it compute three and four variable linear regressions on my pre-intel MacBook... Haven' had the slowness problem on any x86 processor I've used in the last decade though.
  • Parhel - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    I used to have to wait quite a while with Excel 2007 whenever I would do a VLOOKUP on a calculated value with a large dataset. There were ways around it, but it was never all that hard to choke Excel. I don't use it much anymore, so I can't speak to the newer versions.
  • Kevin G - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    I've been able to bring my Ivy Bridge Core i5 to its knees in Excel 2010 via using array formulas over medium sized data sets (~30,000 rows). This stuff if run through a good JIT compiler should only take moments. I'm confident that Excel has continually regressed in performance for the past 15 years.
  • MrEcho - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    Does the new Office 2013 or 365 offer real time collaboration like Google?
    For our company this is a huge thing for us, we love it and really use it.
    Yesterday we had 7 people working on the same spreadsheet, at the same time, no joke. And everything worked great. And the built in chat per document, very nice.
    If your not trying to write a Masters thesis, and want to do some basic work, MS Office is a bit over kill. I could never justify spending $100+ per seat to my CEO.
  • Freakie - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    Yes, if your company gets the Office 365 subscription with Lync then you can have up to 249 people all working on a single document, with video and voice chatting built in as well. It even brings the current speaker's video feed front and center (when someone talks, their video becomes the "main" video). You can also keep the same "Meeting" going while switching documents in and out; it is sort of a digital whiteboard. Lync is also an instant messaging system that allows you do contact everyone in your business and organize them like they would be in an Active Directory (Company, Department, Unit, Individual or however your company is organized) So you can instantly communicate with anyone in your company without using email/outlook and through any device as Lync is available on just about every mobile platform. It also integrates with your cell phone number and you can send/receive all of your text messages with Office 365 so when you are at your desk you can keep up with your mobile communications while still on one device (your computer)
  • steven75 - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - link

    You're aware gchat existed for years now along side Google Apps, right?

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