The New Office 2013

One of Directions Training’s Microsoft Applications Instructors wanted you to know…

Microsoft Office 2013 is coming! OK – It’s out there and available, but it hasn’t yet hit the desktops of most users. Naturally, companies are inclined to be cautious about jumping on a new technology or application version.

I have, and probably you have, heard many reasons why Office 2013 is the greatest thing since sliced pumpernickel. But what I have wondered is the consensus of opinion as to what are the really hot features that make it so sexy?

I decided to check out what people are saying. The Internet is afloat with blogs and articles featuring the top features of the new Office, according to the opinion of the author. So why not do a bit of Compare and Combine?  Here is a table with the Top Ten Office 2013 features according to 3 reliable sources (Edited a bit for length. They do tend to rattle on a bit.)

PCWorld TechRepublic Microsoft Store
1. Modern Style Interface  

In keeping with the “Modern” (previously called “Metro”) style interface that you’ll see in Windows 8, Office 2013 is getting a new look. Gone are the multiple shades of color that decorated the older interface, as well as the shadows and shading that suggested three dimensions.

1. The new spell checker  

My favorite new feature in Office 2013 is without a doubt the spell checker. Office has had a good spell checker for quite some time, but the new version is far better. In addition to offering suggestions for misspelled words, the new spell checker also offers dictionary definitions for its suggestions.

1. Office on multiple devices  

Install Office on up to 5 PCs or Macs and on select mobile devices.

2. Start Screens  

Each app supports a new color-coded start screen—blue for Word, green for Excel, orange for PowerPoint, green for Publisher. Like the other applications’ start screens, the one for Word displays a list of recent documents.

2. Outlook Weather  

Okay, maybe this one is kind of gimmicky, but I love the fact that Outlook 2013 displays the weather forecast on the calendar. I travel a lot and it is nice to be able to see the weather for the city I am about to visit.

2. Personalized experience  

Applications, custom settings, and documents are accessible when you need them.

3. SkyDrive Integration  

Office 2013 is designed to integrate with the cloud—with SkyDrive and SharePoint, in particular. That’s good news if you prefer to save your work online for anywhere-access, though most small businesses and individuals still save files locally.

3. Overhauled comments feature  

I’m just going to say it. I have never liked Office’s comments feature. In past versions of Office, it was sometimes difficult to tell who was making a comment and replying to a comment was often problematic. Thankfully, Microsoft has rebuilt the comment feature.

3. Office on demand  

Even if you’re away from your PC, stream a full-featured Office application to any Internet-connected PC.

4. Syncing Across Devices  

When you save your Office documents online, they’ll be available to you (and others) from any device at any time, via Office 2013 on a PC or tablet, or via the WebApps.

4. Parallel installation capability  

Previous versions of Microsoft Office don’t support parallel installations. If you want to install a new version, you have to get rid of the old version. However, you can now install Office 2013 alongside a previous version.

4. Skype world minutes  

Stay in touch with 60 minutes of Skype calls each month to phones in 40+ countries.

5. Touchscreen use  

Some new Office 2013 features are designed to make working with a touchscreen easier. The new Read Mode in Word opens a document in reading view, which lets you scroll through the document by swiping horizontally with your finger.

5. Support for online content  

Office has long offered the ability to insert content such as pictures and video into documents. Although these capabilities still exist in Office 2013, Microsoft has added some new options. Office 2013 lets you insert online content such as online pictures and online video.

5. Easy annual subscription  

Ongoing access to upgrades, installation on multiple devices, and Office on Demand services.

6. PDF Editing  

In the past you could save a Word document as a PDF file, but until now you couldn’t edit PDFs in Word without first converting them to Doc or DocX format. The new Word 2013 can open PDF files, edit them there, and then save them as either DocX files or PDFs.

6. Templates  

Templates are nothing new to Office. But I really like the way available templates are presented in Office 2013. As soon as you open a Microsoft Office application, you see a screen displaying a number of the available templates.

6. SkyDrive  

Save documents online to your SkyDrive by default for easy access from virtually anywhere.

7. Formatting Task Panes in PowerPoint  

Formatting images, shapes, and other objects in PowerPoint is now more intuitive. Right-click an image and choose Format Picture to open the new Format Picture task pane, which shows the formatting options available for that object. 

7. Apps  

One of the biggest new features of Office 2013 is the support for apps. Some apps are obviously more useful than others, but I do like the idea of being able to use apps within Office. Microsoft has created an app library for Office 2013.

7. Optimized for touch and pen  

Using your finger or a pen is just as easy as using a keyboard or mouse.

8. Easier Charting  

For users confused by the plethora of charting options in previous versions of Excel, the new Recommended Charts feature is useful. Select the data to chart and click Insert > Recommended Chart to see options such as line, bar, and pie charts that the program recommends for your data.

8. Consistency  

Microsoft has also reduced the learning curve for Office 2013 by maintaining a degree of consistency with Office 2010. Both versions make use of Ribbons at the top of the screen. Although Office 2013 contains a number of new features, Microsoft did a good job of maintaining the Ribbon layout that was used in the previous version of Office, at least in Word.

 Oddly enough, this “Top Ten” list had only 7 things on it.
9. More Graphics Options  

In Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher, and even Outlook, new icons on the Insert tab of the ribbon toolbar let you insert pictures from your local PC or from various online sources.

9. A streamlined Save As  

Office 2013 offers a much cleaner Save As screen, and there are shortcuts for saving documents in non-default locations (such as SkyDrive).

10. Account Login  

The Backstage View in Office 2013 includes a new tab called Account. Here you can log in to your SkyDrive account or switch accounts. You can also see a list of connected services, such as Twitter and Facebook, and add services, such as LinkedIn and SkyDrive.

10. Account connectivity  

Finally, I like that Office 2013 can be connected to a Microsoft account. Doing so allows Office to take advantage of resources that are tied to that account. For example, if you have a photo associated with your profile, Office 2013 will use it.


Is there a consensus? They seem to all like the Account feature, and the new Interface and Graphics features get a unison nod, but the point seems to be that there’s something for everyone. Each user will find their favorites and their “un-favorites,” but there seems to be a lot to love about Microsoft Office 2013, and, above all, it represents a Brave New World of applications use.

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