It’s that time again when every 2-3 years when Microsoft announces a new version of Office. Yeterday (July 16, 2012), Microsoft announced the fifteenth version of its flagship software, Office 2013.
As an early adopter, of course I installed and I have to say that I am impressed of how the installation process goes. At least in this Consumer Preview version, the installation is divided into two “major” steps: Fast “preliminary” install, which takes about 3-4 minutes. After this step is done, you can immediately use Word, Excel, Powerpoint or the other applications that come in the package. The second step is downloading and installing the rest of the files; it seems like the installation needs about 2.5 GB, this whole thing happening in the background. The installer tells you NOT to shut down or disconnect from the Internet. Bare in mind that I have two SSDs installed, so if you have regular HDDs, this might take considerably longer. Also, your Internet connection might be a factor in how long it will take.
Long story short, in 3 minutes I was able to use Office 2013.
Here’s how it looks like when you first run Word, Excel and Powerpoint.
It’s really great that you can actually see your recently opened files and also some templates to get you started.
On the other hand, after you click any of the above and you land in the main interface, it seems to me like a wire-frame unpolished design, rather than a consumer preview. Indeed, it follows the whole Metro trend, but it gave me the feeling of the late Windows 3.1 with a powerful graphics card, or Windows 3.1 on steroids if you like.
This is how it looks like when you are using the main interface:
What I noticed to be extremely sexy if you ask me, is the cursor. It’s not the typical blink on blink off cursor, but more of a fade out fade in kind of cursor. Also scrolling in a document is extremely smooth, a bit too smooth, but definitely enjoyable. I also like the status bar, full colored, giving it a bit of a contrast in comparison to the rest of the window.
I am not sure if the templates included in this Consumer Preview will be the only ones available in the final release, but there are only a few in “my” version.
Overall, I think Microsoft is doing a great job in rebranding or trying to rebrand itself into its Metro identity.
As always (unfortunately), there’s a catch which seemed and still seems a bit aggressive to me.
All seemed fine until I noticed that Microsoft decided to install Skydrive without even bothering to ask me about it. While I completely understand that Microsoft wants to keep its leader position with the new Office (especially in terms of cloud connectivity), I do not really enjoy applications to be installed without my express consent. Of course I can uninstall it, but why the hassle? I feel like I just bought a new laptop and now I have to uninstall all the crapware and bloatware that came installed on it.
Bottom line, I think that I am personally not used to Microsoft delivering visually appealing products and that’s exactly what they are trying to change with Office 2013. Slowly but surely, I am getting used to the new Office.
Remember that this is not the final version and things might change until the final release, but for now it gets a 7/10 from me.
In case you were wondering whether you can install it on your shiny Windows XP or Windows Vista, forget about it. Microsoft decided not to support these operating systems. (source)