Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled the new version of Office at a press event in San Francisco, California today (16 July 2012), which is built to work with either touch, stylus, or mouse and keyboard input across any device running Windows.
Ballmer said that the new Office will run best on Windows 8, though it will run on other versions of Windows as well. On the desktop, however, Microsoft Office 2013 will not run on versions of the operating system older than Windows 7.
A Microsoft spokesperson explained that Office 2013’s optimisation for touch devices requires that it runs on Windows 7 or Windows 8.
Office “in the cloud”
Emphasis was placed on Office 2013’s cloud features, and Microsoft highlighted the following in the press statement that accompanied the the announcement:
- SkyDrive: Office saves documents to SkyDrive by default. Documents are also available offline and sync when reconnecting to the Internet.
- Roaming: Once signed in to Office, settings such as most recently used files, templates and the custom dictionary are available on any device. Office remembers where the user left off and brings them back to that spot in a single click.
- Office on Demand: With a subscription, users can access Office even when away from their PC by streaming applications to an Internet-connected Windows-based PC.
Office social features
Microsoft also showed a number of social features included in Office 2013:
- Yammer: Yammer offers a secure, private social network for businesses. Sign-up is free, and Yammer will also integrate with SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics.
- Social networking: Follow people, teams, documents and sites in SharePoint. View and embed pictures, videos and Office content in activity feeds.
- People Card: Office 2013 promises an integrated view of contacts everywhere in the productivity suite. The People Card includes presence information complete with pictures, status updates, contact information and activity feeds from Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.
- Skype: Skype is now bundled with Office. Integrate Skype contacts into Lync and call or instant message anyone on Skype.
Office 2013 will also offer the following features, Microsoft said:
- Digital note-taking. OneNote is able to take notes with touch, pen or keyboard, or use them together and switch back and forth.
- Reading and markup: Zoom in and out of content, stream videos within documents, view revision marks and use touch to turn pages. The Read Mode in Word promises to automatically adjusts for large and small screens.
- Meetings: PowerPoint features a new Presenter View. While presenting, users can zoom, mark up and navigate slides with touch and stylus. Lync includes multiparty HD video with presentations, shared OneNote notebooks and a virtual whiteboard for collaborative brainstorming.
New subscription options
Although the full lineup of offerings and pricing plans will be announced “this fall” (Sep-Nov 2012), Microsoft specifically mentioned three new Office 365 subscription services. When available, each new subscription will include the new 2013 editions of the Office applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access.
Microsoft said that subscribers will also receive upgrades to future versions of Office, as well as a license to use the software on up to five PCs or Macs, and mobile devices.
The three new editions will be the following:
- Office 365 Home Premium — “designed for families and consumers.” Includes an additional 20 GB of SkyDrive storage and 60 minutes of Skype world minutes per month.
- Office 365 Small Business Premium — “designed for small businesses.” Includes business-grade email, shared calendars, website tools and HD webconferencing.
- Office 365 ProPlus — “designed for enterprise customers who want advanced business capabilities and the flexibility to deploy and manage in the cloud.”
According to Microsoft, these new Office 365 subscriptions will be available in South Africa.
A version of Microsoft Office 2013 which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote , will be included on ARM-based Windows 8 devices (Windows RT), including the recently announced Microsoft Surface.
MyBroadband journalist Jan Vermeulen is a guest of Microsoft in San Francisco