on January 31, 2013
I have never been a Microsoft hater, as many are. But the love is certainly gone. Welcome to the beginning of the end of an economical Office purchase (with one exception, which I'll get to later).
Ready to get your new 2013 Home & Student with 3 licenses? Forget about it: they're gone forever. Pay Microsoft your $140 and they will give you a THIRD of what they used to give you for that price: 1 license, not 3.
It gets worse: Are you familiar with Microsoft's big push for "Office 365"? Get familiar with it because this is the last time you will even be able to "buy" Office: you RENT Office 365, you don't own it. It's a subscription service. And it is the future of Office. Don't like the fact that you now have to pay $280 for your desktop and notebook copies of Office (or $420 for 3 licenses)? Say hello to $100 PER YEAR for Office 365. And that will be at LEAST $400 if you use it for more than 3 years.
The one positive aspect of 365 is that it covers up to 5 PC's, so a family will probably save money on the deal. However, if you are single or a couple with 2 or 3 computers, you will pay at least $300 over the average 3-year lifespan of an Office edition. Go one day over 3 years (requiring a 4th-year subscription) and it's $400. For something you paid $125 or so for until now (Office 2010 H&S with 3 licenses was $125).
Yes, I'm giving Microsoft 1 star: Forget about the merits of Office 2013, it's the greed and manipulative practices of Microsoft that need to be exposed here. One day in the not-too-distant future Microsoft will make sure "owned" editions of Office (perpetual licenses) will not work with new editions of Windows (e.g., Windows 10) so that you MUST subscribe to 365. Worse, you will have to ALWAYS subscribe if you want to read and edit your Word or Excel docs, use OneNote, etc.: the apps are DISABLED the minute your subscription lapses. This IS their plan. So, I encourage others to give Office 2013 a 1-star review to voice your displeasure over this 200% price increase and Microsoft's nefarious plans on making Office an extortion racket (they will be able to demand higher and higher 365 fees because you can't say no - unless you're willing to lose years worth of documents).
P.S. One other reason to hate this change in Office: the one license you get is now machine-specific, tied to that machine ID upon install. If that computer dies or if you decide to get a new PC, you now must buy another copy of Office: no migrating/transfering allowed anymore. Another $140. Nice.
ADDENDUM 5 May 2013
Many who loathe the idea of renting Office have asked, 'Do I abandon Office and find a free suite [OpenOffice, etc.] now, or wait until I'm forced into Office 365?'. Well, just so you know, MS recently announced that it will continue to support Windows 7 to at least 2020, probably longer. That means that if you have Office 2010 or 2013 and run either W7 or W8, your owned (perpetual license) Office product will run fine until probably 2025 or later, as long as you keep W7 or 8 as your OS (and, who knows, perhaps Windows 9 will be compatible as well). If you have Office 2007 or earlier, I would get my hands on a 2010 with 3 licenses, pronto. There's nothing earth-shatteringly special about 2013 and many hate it compared to 2010, even aside from the pricing/licensing nonsense.
on February 2, 2013
TL;DR: Office 2013 is a good product in its own right, but it's pretty much the same as Office 2010 with SkyDrive integration, touch mode, some new annoyances, and higher pricing. I would not recommend upgrading from Office 2010. If you do not have Office 2010, see if you can live with the competition (OpenOffice, Google Drive) before buying this.
About a month ago, I installed Windows 8 and the final version of Office 2013 on a Dell XPS 13. A bit about me: I'm a graduate student and a long-time user of Microsoft Office. I've used Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote almost every day for the past 5 years, but OneNote the most by far. I've used every version of Office since 1997.
As other reviewers have pointed out, the biggest changes to Office 2013 from Office 2010 are SkyDrive integration, touch gestures, and a flatter UI to match Windows 8. Since I don't use SkyDrive often, don't have a touchscreen, and am indifferent to the flatter look, I'll leave those aspects to other reviews. If you're like me and aren't particularly excited by SkyDrive (which still isn't as versatile as Google Docs for real-time collaboration), then Office 2013 is practically the same as Office 2010 in terms of how everything works - most of the time. This is not a bad thing, at least in my opinion, since I really liked Office 2010 and its improved Ribbon UI.
What I wanted to talk about here are the changes that Microsoft has made to Office 2013 from Office 2010 that I've noticed, changes that might impact daily workflow for users upgrading from previous Office versions.
I spend at least 4 hours a day in this program, so I'll start with this. As far as I can tell, there are no significant changes in terms of features. Buttons on the ribbon are shuffled around a bit, but the feature set is still the same, as is the file container (*.one) and notebook type ("OneNote 2010-2013").
However, there are 5 new issues that annoy me every single day.
(1) Full screen and pinning the ribbon. In 2013, going into full screen mode means that everything is hidden, except for a very short horizontal bar across the top of the screen. To access anything on the ribbon, I have to click on this bar to show the ribbon first. If I want to pin the ribbon so that tabs are visible at all times in full screen mode, I have to click on this bar, click a menu button near the minimize button (also hidden in full screen), and then click Show Tabs. However, OneNote does not remember this setting. Thus, every time I exit full screen mode or restart OneNote and then reenter full screen mode, I have to re-pin the ribbon again. On an ultrabook, I want more space for taking notes, but I also use the ribbon extensively and would prefer to have it available. This problem did not exist in OneNote 2010, which remembers the user's full-screen ribbon settings.
(2) Inserting multi-page printouts. The new default behavior in OneNote 2013 is to place each page of the printout on a separate "page" of the notebook. I prefer to put one entire lecture on each "notebook page", regardless of how many pages or slides the professor gives us. I've also never come across anyone who prefers to have only one printout page on each notebook page. So for instance, if I were inserting a 30-slide Powerpoint, OneNote 2013 would create 30 new notebook pages. There is an option to turn this off in the options, but OneNote then shows a dialog box asking me to choose between the two options every time I want to insert a printout. Since I insert several files a day, this gets annoying very quickly. Once again, OneNote 2010 did not have this problem.
(3) Inserting more than 1 multi-page printout on the same notebook page. If I try this, then the second printout is somehow inserted under the first printout, i.e. the first printout overlaps and covers up the second printout. It only happens when the printouts are both at least several pages long or if I've annotated the page already; the program disregards my cursor location. To work around this, I have to put the second printout on a new notebook page and then copy/paste the printout pages back to the first notebook page. This problem also did not exist in OneNote 2010.
(4) Zoom level changes when inserting printout: it always defaults back to 100%. I take notes at 115% on my ultrabook, so every time I insert a printout, I have to readjust the zoom level.
(5) Drawing tools. I have no idea how Microsoft managed to mess this up when going from 2010 to 2013, but half the time I try to draw an arrow, it ends up being a line with a V in the middle, or the arrowhead is completely detached from the line. In fact, I can't even draw a plain line properly sometimes. I haven't tried the other shapes much, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were problems there too. I've given up and resorted to drawing arrows freehand with the pen tool instead.
These issues may seem minor to some, but they affect me every day, so I wanted to give a heads-up to anyone else who uses OneNote the same way I do. I wish that Microsoft had spent more time implementing useful features (e.g. still can't rotate or crop a printout; search results are still clunky) or at least providing options to change these new behaviors in settings.
Now, when you open up Word (and Excel/Powerpoint), you're presented with a selection of templates instead of just a blank document, which is one extra click away (this can be turned off in Options). Other than that, the feature set for Word has remained largely the same. I have noticed significant lag when saving large Word documents, even to SSD - I was working on a 20MB file and Word would freeze up for 10-15 seconds every time I saved, despite my computer being pretty new. I tried tweaking the settings, disabling hardware acceleration, etc, but nothing helped. This was not an issue in Word 2010 either.
One of the most touted new features of Word 2013 is the ability to open PDF files for editing, but I have attempted to open and edit several documents, and Word does a horrible job of preserving formatting. I have third-party conversion software that almost always gets the formatting correct, no matter how complex, so this was a disappointment. I even tried to open a PDF file that was created from a simple Word document, and Word failed to properly center the title. I would not recommend relying on this feature.
I haven't had much of a chance to work extensively with these programs, but other than the template selection page when first opening the programs, they seem pretty much the same as Office 2010. Saving large files in Powerpoint 2013 usually seems okay, unlike in Word 2013. Powerpoint now defaults to 16:9 aspect ratio for slides, which is nice. There are some nice additions and tweaks to the Design tab in Powerpoint, but nothing spectacular. Excel has some handy pattern-recognition auto-fill functions now which seem to work well.
One more thing about Word/Excel/Powerpoint: Microsoft decided to add transitions to everything, which I find distracting. For example, when you type in Word, the letters fade into the page instead of simply appearing, and the cursor glides to the right. In Excel, when recalculating cells, the new values fade in, like a ripple effect. In Powerpoint, when applying a new background, it fades into all the slides as it is applied. There is no way to turn this off except through a registry tweak.
It may seem like I'm being overly critical of Office 2013, but I immensely enjoyed using Office 2010, and much of that experience has carried over here. Office 2013 will undoubtedly stand as the new standard of office suites this year. Microsoft Office remains a powerful and invaluable set of software for people in academia or business, which is why I'm still giving it 3.5 (~4) stars. But at best, Office 2013 is simply Office 2010 with SkyDrive integration and touch gestures. If you're like me, Office 2013 introduces little to no new functionality and a handful of new bugs and quirks that interfere with daily workflow. My advice? If you're considering upgrading from pre-2010, then I would recommend Office 2010, especially in light of the annual subscription-based model Microsoft is pursuing for Office 2013. If you're already on Office 2010 and are happy, I would not recommend upgrading to Office 2013.
UPDATE - SkyDrive collaboration
Recently, I tried using SkyDrive, Office Web Apps (free version), and Office 2013 together to collaborate on some files with other people, and the experience is a far cry from Google Docs. I will preface this by saying that I am not using the subscription/corporate versions of Office Web Apps, which (I believe) have better collaboration features. This is for users who want to buy the retail copy of Office 2013 and/or are considering using Skydrive and the free Office Web Apps to work on files with other people.
(1) Changes are not synced in real time - for instance, if someone makes an edit, all other users who have the file open must manually save and refresh the document to see changes.
(2) Conflicts. After the manual save/refresh, Skydrive roughly merges everything together - so, for instance, if both users write a sentence, both sentences will appear after the first user syncs their changes, the second user syncs the first user's changes plus their own changes, and the first user syncs yet again. If two users try to edit the same word, Skydrive gives an error message, complaining of a conflict and asking the user to manually resolve each problem. If this sounds like a mess, it's because it is.
(3) There is no indication of what other users are editing, where their cursors are, what they're looking at, etc., unlike Google Docs.
(4) In Excel, if a desktop user on Excel 2013 is editing the spreadsheet, then no other users can edit it.
(5) In Powerpoint, text appears in a different size and font when being edited, then reverts back after the user exits the text box...why?
(6) The web apps have been stripped of nearly all features, even basic things like header/footer in Word. This is to be expected, since it's free, but it also means that Google Docs provides a superior experience, at least for word processing.
I shudder to think how badly this system would work when trying to get a significant amount of work done. Google Docs may be inadequate for many power-user tasks, but it is absolutely outstanding when it comes to real-time collaboration - I've written 100+ page papers with other people using Google Docs, and while further formatting is always required in Word after everything is written, we've never had a problem with seeing exactly what has been written at any given time. Microsoft's free solution does not hold up well at all for multi-user scenarios; it really only works as a backup solution for single user use.
on February 17, 2013
I bought this and downloaded it on my computer. A week later that computer basically died so I had to get a new one. They won't reset my code and are insisting I spend another $140 TO BUY IT AGAIN. I had to wait 2 hours on the phone and online to be told no. I am beyond frustrated at them.
on February 5, 2013
I have, until now, purchased each new edition of Office Home and Student for our 3 computers. That ends with this edition. No way will we buy 3 copies. We will be using the old 2010 Office and free Open Office programs from now on, or, possibly, switching to Apple products the next time we buy computers. The Apple is more expensive, but applications much more reasonable with family-friendly sharing. Microsoft seems determined to keep losing ground to their competitors. By the way, if you haven't tried Open Office (<...>)or LibreOffice (<...>) an almost identical free program, give them a serious look. You can do just about everything you can do in MS Office and save it in MS Office formats. Since it is free, you can also save a document in the Open/Libre Office format and send it to friends who can also download the free program to read and edit. Open/Libre Office also includes a database and drawing program in addition to the usual word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation programs. Both programs are also available for Mac computers. Google Docs is another free option for simple documents, but doesn't offer many formatting or custom options. It is, however, great for interactive collaborative projects.
on February 6, 2013
Another point that the other excellent 1-star reviewers over-looked, is that Microsoft requires you to create an account with them before you can DL the software.
I remember reading a scary book in my youth: 1984.
Here are some free, or much cheaper, alternatives: Google Docs, LibreOffice, Apache OpenOffice, Calligra Suite, OxygenOffice Professional, SoftMaker Office or Feng Office Community Edition.
If everyone were to say 'no' to Microsoft and go with the alternatives, the alternatives would improve & Microsoft would change their way of doing business (OK - maybe that is just wishful thinking).
If Amazon allows the links:[...] or [...]
on February 14, 2013
I had installation issues and Microsofts' technical support is the absolute worst. I spent a whole day on the phone and no one could fix the problem; the only thing they could do was transfer my call to someone else.
on February 1, 2013
Let's face it, if you've used Microsoft Office in the past then you know pretty much what you're getting with this software. There is nothing revolutionary or life changing about the 2013 version of this software. There are minor tweaks here and there, but nothing to get excited about. It works as it should.
But, the biggest difference that I noticed was that this new version is non-transferable between computers, and you can only install it on 1 PC. In past versions, you were able to make one software purchase and outfit your whole household (up to 3 PCs) with Microsoft Office. No more.
This 2013 version clearly states that it is only for 1 user, and 1 PC. So, if you have more than one PC in your home, you will need to make multiple purchases of this software. Also, if your computer dies or you decide to replace it with a new one, guess what? Yep, you guessed it, you'll spend another $140 to re-install Office2013 on your new computer.
I am a fan of Microsoft Office programs, and I've used them for many years, but this new "non-transferable" policy is an important thing to know when making a buying decision. I hope this review has been helpful.
Microsoft has recently changed its user agreement allowing you to transfer the software to a different computer. If your PC dies or you get a new one, you can transfer the software license to the new computer. While this is a step in the right direction, unfortunately this is just a half-measure. The policy still only allows installation on just 1 PC, contrary to previous versions which allowed installation on up to 3 PCs. Those who have more than one PC will still have to make multiple purchases.
on February 22, 2013
Just ordered Microsoft Home & Student 2013 directly from the Microsoft site. Went to download the product and nothing happened. "Redemption failed." Went back to my account (as was suggested from follow up email) and logged into my account. Got message, "Sorry, something went wrong." Next I called the help number and you know the drill, after a 15 minute wait finally got hold of a real person. Gave him all pertinent information and explained exactly what happened, or more accurately, what did not happened. Ultimately he told me that "this was a known problem and to try back in 24-48 hours." So now I am out $139 and have to wait 2 days to see if I can even download what I paid for. Total crap on the part of Microsoft.
on March 6, 2013
I don't know if you can consider what I'm going to write a full review, but it is an overview of some of the changes I've noticed (compared to Office 2010) and what I think about them. It's pretty long because I tried to be really thorough. I mostly use Word and Excel, so I'll talk about those most (I don't use OneNote or PowerPoint much, so I can't comment on them much besides causally things I noticed or read). I will focus on the new Metro/Windows 8 look that Office now adopts first. It's about flatness, removal of gradients, simulated 3D elements, and round corners. I gave it the benefit of a doubt, and I can use it, but it's not an improvement or benefits productivity. Some defaults implemented are questionable, like "Why? This offers no benefit."
First off is the default white theme. I have no idea who OK'd this decision. It's silly. There's so much white! The top of the window is white, the ribbon is white, the scroll bars are white, drop down menus in the ribbon have to be white, and many of the icons in the ribbon can only be white or off-white by nature and/or have been changed to white anyways (perfect example is the Insert tab in Word)... all while the work area below the ribbon is usually white too! Everything has a tendency to blend together, and how can it not, since it's all white to begin with. My eye feels like it wants to wander around. And to top it off, the ribbon features low contrast with little color. Things you expect to be black are actually grey or a lightened black (all the fonts used, the outline of the page in Word, the paragraph tools, the separations between columns in the ribbon, the font size increase/decrease are all examples) and a lot of the color has been toned down and desaturated. This low contrast gives the ribbon an even WHITER feel. Even the separators between groups in the Ribbon has been lightened to grey and are less noticeable. I think their idea was to "subdue" everything so it's not competing for attention, but it has the opposite effect. Going back to the Insert Tab in word, it's almost like the icons/commands available blend in with the background due to all of this and the flatness. Even hovering over an item is somewhat dull. Without any shading, gradients, or contrast, it's like the UI and work area compete with each other. Nothing really "pops out" as a control element. Something just feels wrong. In Office 2010, I use the Silver theme (I abhor the default blue theme), which is another non-colored theme, but it has none of the problems of Office 2013. The work area was the focus of attention. And due to the brightness of the white theme too in 2013, if your monitor is not very bright, it can look a little dull, but too bright, and it can be fatiguing. They have two grey themes, light and dark, but they should really be called "barely darker than stark white" and "slightly dark than that". Both are better for separating elements, so why was white chosen by default? Maybe because they were boring... just flat areas of grey and are not eye candy at all. And about eye candy, not all of the icons could easily take to the new minimalist flat look. Some things like Equation, Symbol, Chart, and Conditional Formatting look good, but other elements look ugly, like the Filter icon, and others are just so basic, like the page tools which are basically white rectangles and do not "stick out" from the background like I said earlier. So from the get go, Office has been uglfied.
The ribbon also features ALL CAPS IN IT'S SECTIONS, LIKE HOME/INSERT/REVIEW/ETC. You can easily change it, but again, why was this done by default? They said it helped separate the tabs, but this was never an issue in previous versions and many people look to change this when first starting. The ribbon is also vertically longer in ALL programs by a tiny degree. But the worst thing is the new File menu. When you launch the File menu, it overtakes the whole screen, similar to the Windows 8 Start Screen. 2010 does it too, but it opens it up like a Ribbon section... 2013 hides the other ribbon sections and the even File button (it changes it into another icon). It drives me nuts because I HATE how it looks. It's just ugly. Gone are icons for the buttons too, like Open/Save/Share/Export, now they are all just plain text. And when using Open, Save/Save As, more mouse movement and clicks are necessary to do the same amount of work as 2010 (assuming you don't use SkyDrive, which I don't) due to the "backstage" that has been implemented. Same when you launch any program (Word/Excel/OneNote) or attempt to create a New Document - now you need to choose a template to start with, or click Escape to get a blank document. This was an annoyance at first but I actually like this feature. It might encourage more people to use/make templates. You can turn most of these changes off, and I found how to do it quite quickly, but there is no way to turn off the File Menu's Open using the backstage, so now I just pinned it to the quick launch toolbar. They also introduced auto hiding the entire ribbon, but it was implemented how it should be done. Unlike auto hiding the Windows 7 taskbar, you need to click on the 2013 Ribbon after hovering over it to get it to come up. Effectively it requires more one click on every use, when it could have just been on hover over.
==Animations + Missing shortcuts==
The entire suite now features more GPU acceleration than 2010, which is great, and it also brings a new animation fluidity. In Word, the cursor is ever so slightly is behind what you are typing. You can't fully see it, but you can if you just hold down a single key (the cursor is always BEHIND by one character then). I think its fine though, much better than how it worked in the preview. Menus are also a bit "different" when they pop out, it's subtle but I like it. Excel also has a different fluidity when selecting cells and selections are colored and sometimes animated. There is a way to disable these changes (via Windows, the Registry, or by just turning off hardware acceleration), but why not make this an option in the program? I know people would use it. Mysteriously absent also is the fast way to use Ruler and Split View in Word and Excel. Before, you used to be able to just drag from the top to create a split view, or use the button below to make the ruler visible, but now you need to manually switch to the View tab and change those options. Why was this implemented? I loved this simple feature. It's anti-productivity by changing it! If they could afford to increase the length of the ribbon (for no reason), they can afford to keep those two shortcuts.
Office 2013 also changed font rendering... fonts now look hideous. It has a look to it that is both blurry and/or too crisp simultaneously. It's like the font smoothing is too prominent. You can try to fix it via disabling hardware acceleration, subpixel smoothing, or updating your drivers, but none of those methods worked for me. I did some research and found 2 links at Microsoft Answers. I'll save you some time though and summarize: the new rendering (which is also present in Windows 8) does not support ClearType. Why you ask? Well, there is no official answer from MS, but somebody did post a bunch of reasons about it in the context of tablets... ClearType doesn't rotate with the screen, ClearType font animations don't look right, plus their new system is "good enough" for high pixel density screens (so much for monitors). The new rendering looks only greyscale too, not RGB based. This whole issue is pathetic. The Metro philosophy emphasized using fonts and typography in design (for I'm assuming a benefit)... yet they can't even get font rending right and offer no flexibility with it. Who is responsible for this!?
Word is pretty much the same 2010, changes are sprinkled around. Headings can now be collapsed and I LOVE this feature (the only problem is that it captures ALL non heading text under it, so you may want to work in a table if you only want certain text to be collapsible). The Ribbon now has a Design tab dedicated to Themes, Colors, fonts/etc (this takes the place of the Change Styles button in the home tab in 2010). One annoying thing though is that when changing styles, you no longer can see a text list of styles... you see a preview now (which is useful) with a text hover over, but having to find a style by look is not as fast as knowing what it's called (and there is no option to change this). The new default fonts and paragraph styles are slightly changed too, there's a new Word 2013 style set (one change is 1.08 line spacing vs 2010 at 1.15). Word also gives an option to return to the exact location where you last saved a document, that's really nice. The reading mode is ok but lacking in options and I don't think of Word as a reading program (especially with the font rendering problems). Several functions that result in popups in 2010 are now in side panels, such as Spelling. And on the subject of spelling, apparently Microsoft doesn't want us to use AutoCorrect much. Autocorrect is removed from right click menus and the spelling panel (it used to be there in 2010). If you use this a lot, to correct words it doesn't catch (such as "posoin" > poison), you'll have fun manually digging it out in options every time and then finally entering the changes. The dictionary has been removed too and now you need to sign into a Microsoft Account to use it (since it is an Office Web App now and a MS account is required for all Web Apps), but oddly the thesaurus has been left in place. The bottom status bar (with spelling count, view options, etc) is slightly larger and doesn't show outline or draft in the GUI options. Track Changes has had comments cleaned up, but for some reason it now doesn't tell you when it gets to the end of a section or document (why remove that?). When using CTRL+F for find, you now presented with the less options version stored in the Navigation Panel... more mouse and clicks required to see all options than the Find/Replace one. So more mouse movement is required for a commonly used feature... One last thing - if you choose to not upgrade, but instead install 2013 alongside 2010, you may run into some problems. 2010 (and occasionally 2013) will sometimes show "Please wait while Windows configures" when you start them. They take a LONG time to complete on their own, and even when cancelling them you need to somewhat wait... 2010 gives me an error when I do this and says I need to repair a functionality that is no longer working, but whatever it is must not be critical because it loads after anyways and works just fine. Also, your new blank Documents will launch in 2010 compatibly mode by default in Word 2013 and when saving them, you will get a prompt saying it will upgrade them to the newest format.
Excel has quite a bit of changes. The formula bar and name box are slightly larger, the X and check mark icon always visible, and there is a lot of padding (blank space) around it. Why was this done? It only makes it less compact. In addition, the sheet selection at the bottom is also larger too, so by default, you can now only see 45 cells, not 47. Do elements really need to be more prominent? The entire Layout tab for Charts is gone from the Ribbon too and I find this disappointing. You can manually recreate it again though. I didn't recreate the whole thing, but I tried doing a bit of it to see if I could and I could, so I'm guessing the rest should work too. Anyways, the replacements they've implemented are a text only menu accessed via a + button at the top right when selecting a chart, or a visual version like in 2010 via Design Tab > Chart Layouts > Add Chart Element. Formatting has also been changed a lot too. Instead of being a popup, it's now a docked panel at the right side and completely reorganized. It contains the same options but everything is somewhat moved around. And if you used PowerPivot, you can kiss it goodbye. The feature has been completely removed. It is now only available in Office 365 (subscription) or the Professional Plus edition, which is the most expensive non subscription version of Office and cannot be bought via retail as it's only available through volume licensing (it's easier to obtain illegally than legally - talk about completely botching this up!). Another thing - remember when I earlier said that a lot of UI elements are grey, not black? Yeah, it applies that style by default to charts too - all the once black elements are now the 35% lighter version. I couldn't find how in program to change this default action to black, but it still uses black as it's automatic color. Like I really want to have to manually change text colors each time now. There is now a Quick Analysis feature at the bottom of data tables, it gives you shortcuts to Conditional Formatting, suggested Tables, Pivots, etc. It reminds me of the Mini Toolbar and when the Ribbon was introduced... it makes common/useful functions more upfront/visible for well, people who haven't explored much and don't know everything that is possible. It empowers them by showing them what it capable and a preview. I don't use it that much but it's a nice touch. Also, in PivotTable options, 2013 shows you less things to do yet takes up more space. Now you have to right click to Sort/Filter as well as "summarize values by" and "show values as" (can't add those last 2 back to the Ribbon).
I don't really use the Cloud features of Office 2013, but I did log into my MS account to see what it could do. Useful if you do use their cloud services. You can open/save directly to the cloud, email things as attachments, create web browser presentations, and other social media site sharing all within the program. You can also post things to blogs (a bunch of third party ones too, like WordPress). Office 2013 also introduces Apps. They're jumping on the app bandwagon, but it's actually a good thing because it helps popularize and consolidate additional functionality, instead of looking for independent add-ons. There's a Word app called "TaskIt" that creates task list panel. Simple but really useful. Things are more interesting on the Excel side though. Ablebits/Tyrant Ventures has a lot of free, useful Excel apps, such as a random number generator (for those who don't want to use a formula and want a random value written directly into a cell), change case options (like in Word, but without having to go to Word), and Range Calculations (for when you want to change a bunch of cells by constant values (add, subtract, etc). Maybe in the future Apps will be something that draws people to upgrade, but right now there aren't loads of apps. Another thing to remember is they are WEB based apps - they aren't available offline, they are tied to your Microsoft account, and you are probably at the mercy of the developer because you don't install them (Microsoft itself officially says "An app for Office is basically a webpage that is hosted inside an Office client application"). This means that if an app changes and you don't like it, well, you don't have a way to downgrade and can't use a saved installer for a previous version. The built in App panel/manager viewer is pretty dinky too. You're better using your browser to get and manage apps.
Office 2013 is not an upgrade to 2010 (actually with everything I mentioned it is a downgrade). Visually, it has been changed without productivity in mind (not to being somewhat ugly), has questionable new defaults, and not any must have features. The removal or moving of certain features also makes it feel somewhat dumbed down. Only for people who really want the newest or extensively use Microsoft's Cloud.
on March 2, 2013
I strongly agree with other reviewers who note the new marketing (and less flexible) Microsoft approach: The "You'll never own software ever again" model. Just a way to extract more money while delivering less. MICROSOFT NEEDS COMPETITION. Perhaps we'll end up migrating over to Linux.
Oh and note the "1 computer / 1 user" limitation. In SOME CASES, a seller notes that a MS office product is ONLY GOOD FOR the lifetime of 1 computer and is non-transferable. Sounds like if your computer dies next week, you have to REPURCHASE the software. Please correct me if I am wrong about this.
Note: I have contacted Microsoft and they confirm that, indeed, if you buy the "1 computer" version of their software and your computer bellies up in, say 2 months, you've lost your "purchase" of the software. Yes, folks, you have to re-purchase the same software from MS.
Oh, then there's the fact that MS collects software-bug information from millions of users. They are making us serve as beta testers of their software.. all the while charging us every year for the privilege of providing this service TO THEM!
Too much greed!!!