Be one of the first to test drive the new office suite from Microsoft, with a hint of Metro
Free during beta testing
Platform: Windows 7 64-bit, Windows 7, Windows 8 compatible
The latest preview version of Microsoft’s flagship office suite has been made publicly available in the form of a free Consumer Preview. Just as with the finished product, this can be installed on up to five computers and you’ll need to be running either Windows 7 or Windows 8 in order to use it. The version of the suite that is aimed at the home user includes everything the average user is going to need Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Access and Publisher, and there’s also the bonus of an extra 20GB of SkyDrive cloud storage.
The inclusion of cloud storage should come as little surprise as Microsoft is also pushing its only version of the office suite - Office 365 - which is going to be made available on a subscription basis. The suite as a whole has been given a metro makeover to keep it in line with Windows 8. Cloud storage plays a big part in Office 2013 and you can use your Microsoft ID to keep files synchronised between devices, making it easy to work with the same documents on different computers.
For many people, Word is going to be the most frequently used part of the suite and there are a number of interesting new features to take in. One of the biggest is the ability to edit PDF files and there is more evidence of Microsoft’s increased online focus in the ability to search the web without having to leave your word processor – great for when you need to check a detail when writing a document. There have also been major improvements made to collaborative work.
Number crunching app Excel includes new data analysis tools and PowerPoint benefits from a new Presenter View which makes it easier for someone giving a presentation to move between slides without unnecessary distractions. Outlook 2013 is on hand to take care of email, contacts, notes and more while OneNote is essentially a digital scrapbook that can be used to collate together all sorts of information for all manner of projects. Throughout the suite there are tools that not only make it possible to embed online videos into documents, but also more advanced alignment tools to allow for more precisely object placement.
Rounding off the suite are Access for database creation and management, and Publisher, Microsoft’s increasingly impressive desktop publishing program that can be used to create everything from newsletters to posters. The new user interface found through the various programs may take a little getting used to, but it is less of a jarring jump than the introduction of the Office ribbon was – this time it could be seen as more of a development than a major change.
Note that there's no specific download for Office 2013 Consumer Preview. The download link here will take you to the trial page where you need to login with your Microsoft account and download a custom build.