Office 2013: The most compelling new features

Microsoft released their Office 2013 suite publicly on January 29, 2013. The suite can be localized into 33 languages and contains several compelling new features for information workers and IT professionals. Let’s investigate some of these new marquee Office 2013 features!

Timothy Warner By Timothy Warner - Fri, February 1, 2013 - 2 comments

Timothy Warner is a Windows systems administrator, software developer, author, and technical trainer based in Nashville, TN.

What’s new and what’s changed in Office 2013?

Microsoft Office 2013 is available in 32-bit, 64-bit, and ARM versions. To the latter point, the Windows RT version of Office 2013 is targeted at Windows RT-based tablet devices. Component applications for this special Office 2013 edition include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

The formal name for the RT-enabled Office 2013 version is Office 2013 Home & Student RT.

When you use Office 2013 RT, you’ll want to enable the new Touch Mode. This option spreads out the Office user interface elements to facilitate finger or stylus input.

When you enable Touch Mode, the feature is instantly enabled for all installed Office 2013 apps

When you enable Touch Mode, the feature is instantly enabled for all installed Office 2013 apps

Word 2013 also offers a neat Read Mode that displays your document in an eReader-like interface. This option should prove to be especially useful for Windows RT tablet device users.

Office 2013 new features - Read Mode in Word 2013

Read Mode in Word 2013

Office 2013 features a highly “cloud-based” focus, and uses your Microsoft SkyDrive account as its default save location. This should come as good news to SkyDrive users. However, I’m a Dropbox subscriber and there seems to be no way to add Dropbox as a linked save location. As you can see in the following screenshot, Microsoft SharePoint 365 is the other built-in save location for Office 2013 files.

Office 2013 new features - The Save As dialog box in PowerPoint 2013

The Save As dialog box in PowerPoint 2013

A second cloud-based feature in Office 2013 is the ability to sync your app settings across devices. This synchronization feature is hinged to the Microsoft Account; by linking your Microsoft Account to your Office 2013 installation or subscription, you not only connect to your SkyDrive data repositories as previously discussed, but your app preferences “follow you” from device to device.

Office 2013 settings synchronization is linked to your Microsoft Account

Office 2013 settings synchronization is linked to your Microsoft Account

Given Microsoft’s own development and promotion of the XML Paper Specification (XPS) file format, I was pleasantly surprised to observe that we can now create and edit Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files directly from within an Office 2013 application.

We can open and edit PDF files in Office 2013

We can open and edit PDF files in Office 2013

Microsoft replaced the Backstage view in Office 2010 with a redesigned Start Screen. The redesign manages to present the user with more options but, at least as I’m personally concerned, in an easier-to-navigate way. I like it!

The revamped Office 2013 Start Screen

The revamped Office 2013 Start Screen

The Office 2013 release runs concurrently with integration/upsell possibilities with Office 365. As you probably know, Office 365 is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that enables individuals and organizations to use the following Office 2013 suite applications by using nothing more than a compatible Web browser:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • OneNote
  • Outlook
  • Access
  • Publisher

Editing a document in Office 365 Word Web App

Editing a document in Office 365 Word Web App

Thus, organizations who use Microsoft Office need to determine whether purchasing licenses for Office 2013 desktop applications or leveraging a cloud-based Office 365 subscription platform makes the most sense for them.

In deeply distressing news to me, Microsoft Office Picture Manager has been removed from the Office 2013 suite. I understand that Microsoft wants us to use the Photo Gallery app in their free Windows Essentials suite. I get that, I truly do. However, I have grown accustomed to using the Office Picture Manager in my own image editing and management workflow.

Microsoft offsets the loss of Office Picture Manager by including support for online image repositories, such as Office.com, Bing.com, and Flickr.

Inserting online images into a PowerPoint 2013 document

Inserting online images into a PowerPoint 2013 document

Conclusion

The boxed Office 2013 edition lineup is as follows:

  • Office 2013 Home & Student: Licensed for retail, but not commercial, use. Includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote
  • Office 2013 Home & Business: Licensed for commercial use. Includes Outlook in addition to the core apps found in the Home & Student edition
  • Office 2013 Standard: Uses volume licensing model only. Includes Publisher in addition to the apps included in the Home & Business edition
  • Office 2013 Professional: Licensed for retail or commercial use. Includes Access in addition to the apps included in the Standard edition
  • Office 2013 Professional Plus: Uses volume licensing model only. Includes Lync and InfoPath to the apps included in the Professional edition

Have you, like me, always found it a bit odd that Microsoft Visio has never been included in an Office edition?

At any rate, I hope that you found this blog post informative. To be sure, Office 2013 includes several more new features that I don’t cover here. To that end, I will leave you with some hand-picked online resources to help you get up to speed with more detail concerning what’s new and what’s changed in Office 2013.

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2 Comments- Leave a Reply

  1. Ron says:

    Since you want MS Office Picture Manager, I have good news for you. You can get a free copy of the 2007 version by downloading the free SharePoint 2007 installer. It contains MODI and Picture Manager.

    USE MS SHAREPOINT FOR WORKFLOW DEVELOPMENT – MODI
    http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx SharePoint 2010

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/982760 – Install MODI 2007 for use with Microsoft Office 2010

    Download SharePoint Designer 2007
    Note: 2007 version is Free and includes MODI. 2010 version does NOT include it

    The “Boxed 2013 editions” are not licensed for “retail” use, Home and Student is licensed for personal, non-commercial use and the other bundles are licensed for commercial or business use. They are sold under a “retail” license. However, in 2013 the “retail” license terms were improved to allow install on only 1 computer, PERIOD. That means they no longer may be transferred to new computers! This is equivalent to the Pre-2013 “OEM”/”PKC”/”MLK” license terms.

    “Reading View” is NOT new! It has been tweaked a little.

    One feature that no published articles have mentioned is that Excel has returned to SDI, each spreadsheet automatically opens in it’s own application window. No tricks required.

    I agree, it is annoying that MS markets Visio under the Office brand without including even in the highest end bundle. The Visio company was bought in 2000, they have had enough time and versions to integrate it with the rest of Office.

    TIP: a minor pet peeve many people have mentioned is that the tab titles are all UPPER CASE. Annoying! Well, there is a simple fix. Go into Customize Ribbon, select a tab name, click on the rename button and add a space to the end of the tab name. That’s it. When the app reads it, it displays as it did in 2010/2007.

  2. I was also displeased at first when I noticed that Picture Manager was removed from Office 2013. However, then I discovered that Paint in Windows 8 is better than Picture Manager.

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