Microsoft Office 2013 Review

Well, it’s been three years since Windows has had an Office update, and in that time, Microsoft has apparently taken a good hard look at their competition and made some changes to both the user interface as well as the loading screen.  Not only that, but Microsoft Office is now able to save directly to the Windows Live Skydrive.

Now you may be asking “What on earth is all this? Skydrive?

User Interface? It’s just too much change!”  Well never fear, today we are going to break down Office 2013 into simple English and show you some of the amazing features this suite will offer (free download from to try it out on your own)

Let’s start with some basic marketing material.  Below is Microsoft’s preview of Office 2013, showing some of the many features:

Alright, so now that you’ve seen just a bit from Microsoft, but not too much about the ACTUAL product, here’s what we’ve got:  Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Excel, and OneNote, all Preview-able.

Note:  We are working on creating an add-in for PowerPoint 2013 which will work the same as PowerPoint 2007 and 2010.

Let’s start with PowerPoint, as that is our program of choice:

PowerPoint 2013

This program now opens up very similarly to Keynote (Apple’s competition to PowerPoint) with available templates at your fingertips, showing that Microsoft is aware of their competition and is willing to go head to head, at least digitally.

Once opened, PowerPoint’s display is similar to that of 2010 and 2007 in that it still uses a ribbon, but the tabs we’ve grown to know and love have been streamlined so they don’ stand out from the rest of the ribbon nearly as much.   If you are wondering “What happens when I want to format text or a picture? Do I still get that “super tab” above the normal layer of tabs?” The answer to that is Yes You Do.  Actually, now that the whole background is white, those formatting super tabs are easier than ever to see.  So Drawing: Format, Picture:Format, Video:Format are all going to pop up in their various colors to get your attention.

Next, let’s take a look at the menu, as this changes for EVERY version of PowerPoint that comes out.

Alright, so this guy is MUCH different, it actually feels more like an internet-based version of PowerPoint, something like Google Docs or OpenOffice almost.  That however, is where the similarities end.  This still has all the features of our normal PowerPoint Menu, just in a very practical layout.  Now with the ability to “Share” with people, you can invite people, get a hyperlink code to distribute, post it on your social network, e-mail it, present it online, or publish your slides.  This is a separate option from your standard Save and Save As features, and shows how Microsoft is becoming more aware of how many of us are on various clouds and dropboxes and use them on a daily basis.

Next up we have the Export feature.  Think of this like a more permanent copy that is being shared, rather than a link for others.  You can create a video right from the Export screen (allows you to determine what kind of quality you want, whether to use recorded timings and narrations, and how long to spend on each slide).  This feature also allows the creation of Packaged presentations, PDF/XPS documents, and handouts.  What is slick about the handouts is that it will automatically put the slides and notes into a Word document, allow you to edit and format, and will AUTOMATICALLY update slides in the handout as the actual PowerPoint presentation is being changed (that’s right folks, automatically update your handouts for class as you type in additional info into your presentation.)

Finally, we have the “Account” option.  Microsoft really got this one right, as it is not intuitive (to say the least) on the older versions to  use “Help” or “PowerPoint Options” to find out what version of PowerPoint you have.  In this new version however, all that guess work is gone.  Clicking on Account will gain you access to your background preference (similar to Google Chrome or Internet Explorer preferences), connected services (including your SkyDrive and My Office account), and what kind of product you have.  The most practical feature of all however, is the Update Options button.  Make it easy to update your PowerPoint at the push of a button, see what version you’re using, and best yet, explanations of all the the various features in this menu.

Now we’ll be moving on to what Microsoft has paired up with their Office 2013 suite, the Skydrive.  The Skydrive (no it is not skynet!) has existed for the last couple years or so, but in my opinion has been drastically underutilized.  Like Google Docs, you couldn’t automatically make it update from Word, you had to go into the online program, type, and save.  Microsoft has taken that problem off the table however now with the ability to attach your skydrive to your computer, and save directly to it from your machine.  So as you’re working on a project at home, using all the amazing features of PowerPoint, Word etc.  and click “Save” , you can now have it save directly to your Skydrive.  So now if you have to run out the door and don’t have time to e-mail the file to yourself (let’s face it, we’ve all done it), couldn’t find your thumb drive (it’s in the couch cushion, I promise) and didn’t have time to burn a DVD, it’s not a problem.  Simply save it out to the Skydrive while you work on it, do a little CTRL+S and tada!  You are updated, you are mobile, and you are epic!  Beyond these simple features of Skynet (er…I mean Skydrive) there are many other possibilities, which will be discussed in a future post.

In the meantime, give the download a shot, and click the smiley face in the upper right corner of your screen while in PowerPoint or Word, you’ll be sending Microsoft your opinion of the product (yes you get a frowny face option as well).  Happy presenting!


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