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Metro, cloud, and third party options are key improvements

Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) star attraction is the controversial massive revamp of its Windows operating system franchise, Windows 8, set to air in October.

But it today unveiled a significant preview of its other key moneymaker -- the Office suite.  Office 15 will be known as Office 2013 when it launches sometime later this year. The software just hit Consumer Preview, packed with features that reflect Microsoft shifting vision.

Metro UI
The user interface is relatively similar to Office 2010, but the Metro style, with hard edges, solid colors and pastel themes are there.  Similar to the changes to Windows Explorer, this Metro UI makeover creeps up on you, rather than walloping you right away.

An Office 365 Home Premium subscription user can now install one-time use Office apps on an internet-connected client PC.  Basically this allows you to migrate your license to whatever machine you want.  For users in general, there's also direct access to cloud storage via SkyDrive.

Third Party Integration
Via logins you can access various accounts, such as your Facebook, Inc. (FB) network profile or a Flickr account to ad pictures.  Videos are now embeddable, as well, with support for YouTube, and other less popular alternatives.  Excel also has a special data-driven scripting extension language codenamed Agaves, which will allow you to unify your spreadsheet data with online data.

There is a touch mode in the Consumer Preview, but its functionality is currently limited.  When it touch mode, click elements enlarges them, offering an automatic workflow tool in addition to your standard gestures.  Expect Microsoft to expand on this bare-bones implementation in upcoming builds.

Microsoft can't quit search, despite its monetary losses, and it's determined to find ways to productize it.  One way is to integrate Bing results directly into the Office interface.  You can now access Bing Search via the "Insert an Image" Ribbon widget, allowing for quicker grabs of internet images (because opening up the browser is so tough, we know).  

Office 2013 may tread closer to traditionalism than Windows 8 on the surface, but digging deeper, all the key direction shifts for Microsoft are there.  Expect beefier touch support in weeks to come, given Microsoft's deep commitment to bleeding edge touch products.

For now check out the Consumer Preview for yourself, available here.

Source: Microsoft

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RE: No thanks
By JediJeb on 7/16/2012 6:27:40 PM , Rating: 0
Unlike others I will agree with you. I don't use my computer to watch movies, listen to music, or need my word processor integrated with my spread sheet integrated with power point integrated with a data base or with my browser. I do scientific work in a laboratory and honestly Office97 did way more things than I have ever needed and even Office for Win3.1 was fine for what I do. I need a spread sheet to calculate numbers and maybe once in a while draw a simple line graph with linear regressions, and I need a word processor for writing memos and reports. It is also nice if those programs can run on a computer that is crunching away at numbers in the background as I work up the reports without hogging the processor and using up a bunch of memory, since my analytical instruments already stress it pretty well.

Why does it have to be that progress equals more complex?

It is also a pain when working together with groups in an international setting when MicroSoft's "Open" file format can barely be opened by any other vendor's programs since many in foreign countries where their funding is even less than mine are using Open Office/Libre Office or another lower cost alternative.

I understand for IT people it is fun and exciting to play with new software all the time,(I even enjoy it some myself) but when a company that is fighting to meet expenses has to keep spending money to completely retrain their workforce every few years when the UI gets changed, that is not so easy to swallow. It is probably the biggest reason right now why WinXP is still so prevalent.

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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