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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  • tzhu07 - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    If your employer or academic institution is part of Microsoft's Home Use Program, you can get Office Professional Plus 2013 for only $10.

    I used my old University of Washington email account "" and it went through. Seriously great deal on a pro-grade suite.
  • Friendly0Fire - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    Wow, thanks for the heads-up, this is definitely better than *any* other deal I've seen.
  • poohbear - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    "Or, alternatively, you could pay a student to get you an Office 365 University serial number on the cheap."

    isn't that against the end user agreement? Ultimately if you're really trying to save money and don't care about the end user agreement, then you can just pay someone $20 on the internet for Office 2013, but you don't include that in your article, just the "pay a student $79". lol
  • Taft12 - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    I've found the same on DT as well. Anti-piracy sentiment, but plenty of appetite for abusing discounts individuals shouldn't qualify for. Theres no ethical difference.
  • BrokenCrayons - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    I agree with this comment. Seeing an article that promotes violating the EULA of a software suite is a bit alarming. I'd encourage a few edits that remove the bits that discuss getting Office 365 at a cost a customer may not be entitled to pay.
  • jamyryals - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    Agree 100%. There are free options to choose from if you don't want to pay for Office products. should not encourage, endorse, or detail how to commit fraud.
  • andrewaggb - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    yeah, I agree - lets not encourage fraudulent behavior. You've said it yourself, microsoft should probably adjust the pricing for home premium. That's the real issue.
  • Bat123Man - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    Going back as far as StarOffice, although I never really did much more than play around with that product. But when OpenOffice was made available, I jumped on board. Haven't used an MS Office prog since. I now have all 4 of my kids using OpenOffice, and they think it is great. I have asked many industry friends if I am missing out on anything by forgoing MS Office products, but have yet to come up with a compelling reason to switch to a paid suite.

  • guidryp - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    I guess there really is a sucker born every minute if people are really signing up to RENT MS Office for a $100/year.
  • colonelpepper - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    exactly. only a microsoft shill would defend this idea.

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