Generally, Office 2013 works pretty similar to Office 2010, with an interface heavily reliant on the ribbons. Now, I’ve always been a fan of the ribbons, which I thought were a good idea in Office 2007 but really came into their own with Office 2010. It’s been six years since they debuted, so anyone that is still complaining about Ribbon UI should really get over it, especially now that Windows Explorer uses it as well. 

The aesthetic has been updated to match the Metro visual style that forms the basis of the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 UIs. This visual style has left me a bit cold in Windows 8 Desktop - I like the UI chrome in Windows 7, I feel it gives the interface some three-dimensionality and offers more natural interactions. But in Office, the chromeless aesthetic is awesome. I think it works really, really well in Word and PowerPoint especially, where the starkness and simplicity of the UI (particularly in the hidden command or hidden Ribbon modes) gives you a very blank slate to work from. It’s clean and pure in a very fundamental sense, with no visual distractions at all in the UI. 

I’ll also note that the refreshed interface has little to no effect on Excel, which has looked and felt exactly the same since I first used it in Office 97 as a five year old. It’s like the Porsche 911 - no matter what changes under the hood, externally it has looked the same for decades it seems like. Not that it’s a bad thing, since I love the 911 and love-hate Excel, but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless. 

Generally, it seems like the Office 2013 has a much stronger focus on the visual style of the content being created than I’ve noticed in previous editions of Office. There’s much more aesthetic polish, with rich templates that aren’t worthless like they have been in many previous editions of Office, nicely styled titles and headers, and many more document design capabilities. Until you use it, it’s really difficult to overstate how much cleaner documents that come out of Office 2013 look. It’s now much easier to create content that are visually pleasing - documents and presentations that just look good and are easy to read without needing to spend a ton of time on formatting. 

Microsoft is including two input modes: mouse (Office as we know and love it) and touch, which expands the size and spacing between menu options for a more finger-friendly interface without dumbing it down. Look closely at the below screenshot versus the one at the top of the page to get an idea of what I'm talking about. It’s decent to use, but obviously, creating content using the touchscreen keyboard is an outright pain, so this is more for navigation, minor editing, and formatting changes. You will obviously get more out of any office suite with a traditional keyboard and mouse setup, but the new Office at least has a more touch-centric UI as an option. 

Introduction and Setup A Quick Look at Office 2013
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  • colonelpepper - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    this "article" is so obviously an advertisement... what an embarassment for anandtech.

    shame on you guys
    ..and on all the microsoft shills polluting this comment section.

    what a friggin embarrassmet Anandtech. UNBELIEVABLE
  • ggathagan - Saturday, February 2, 2013 - link

    As opposed to everything you've written.
    By your standard, you are a LibreOffice 'shill'.

    As others have stated, the fact that Vivek happens to like the features of Office 2013 doesn't make him a shill, any more than your opinions make you a LibreOffice shill.

    You may not have noticed, but there's no one with a gun to your head demanding that you use any MS product.
    Feel free to live your entire life without a single MS product in your home.
    That's the beauty of choice
  • versesuvius - Saturday, February 2, 2013 - link

    Why pay all that money, when you can keep all that money. Open office is not as pretty, depending on one's moods and tastes of course, but it is ten times more reliable and in the long run more productive than any MS Office n-1.
  • mechBgon - Saturday, February 2, 2013 - link

    ...exploitable, maybe. CERT's security shootout, have a look at the third chart:

    Quality code, for a premium price. Choose your preference, I guess.

    That said, I would probably get Office 2010 over Office 2013 at this point, since Office 2013 licenses can't be transferred to one's next PC. That's right, it's like an OEM Windows license, irrevocably licensed to the first PC you activate it on. And if you want to use it on your desktop and your laptop/tablet, Office 2013 requires you to buy a second license, whereas Office 2010 doesn't.

    It appears to me that Microsoft is purposely poisoning Office 2013 with these licensing shens to get more people onto the subscription model.
  • versesuvius - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - link

    I will not argue with that test, but my own experience is somewhat different. Apache Open office is in 3.4 version now and keeps getting better. In Europe, many governments and city authorities have adopted Open Office since its early versions (before Oracle and Apache), and that shows that the crash problems and productivity then were much more in favor of Open Office and with the latest improvements the situation has not changed much. Anyway for small business and individuals,if not with enterprises, Open Office makes a compelling case. After all 30,000,000 downloads for Apache Open Office alone is bound to make it a more viable platform every day. And again, it is free.
  • mechBgon - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - link

    You mean, the _up-front cost_ is free. How about the TCO? Microsoft has some compelling advantages there. Installation, security, updating, auditing, and configuration enforcement are all centrally manageable with Group Policy, WSUS, and MBSA, among other tools.

    It certainly beats hand-installing and hand-configuring a thousand workstations, wondering if the employees have altered the security configuration, wondering if they're up-to-date, and knowing that you had to allow Admin rights to update the software. Over the course of a 3-5 year lifecycle, which one's really cheaper? And how much does a security breach cost?

    Then there's Open Office's deplorable inclusion of a Java Runtime Environment by default. If they were deliberately attempting to create a security liability, that's a great opening move.
  • versesuvius - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - link

    Very few open source software updates like paid software. The reason for that is simply the fact that updating automatically requires an online server or actually many servers, which costs money. The free software only gives you a notification and the update is usually a download and an install into the same directory. But that does not mean that updating many installation has to be done manually. It can be done automatically through scripts or other methods. As I said governments in Europe have adopted Open Office since many years ago and they are very likely to have security as a high priority on their list. Anyway, all that you mention can be done through either OS services, with Linux being very good at it, or through scripts which any serious enterprise easily has the resources available for and in place already. An interesting point is that contrary to what you say, when it comes to thousands of installations the first time installation make the cost of Open Office almost the same as MS Office. (I remember in a European city, Microsoft's bid was lower than Open Office's, but the city went ahead with Open Office anyways). After that it is almost free with Open Office and permanently very costly with MS Office. I remember Microsoft at a time was offering the entire office suite for 3 dollars in China. It was done to combat piracy, but the end result is the same. It is the long run profits that Microsoft makes that is important to the company, not the initial payment.
  • HisDivineOrder - Saturday, February 2, 2013 - link

    ...for a lot of users. I think you really covered that. You'd think they'd want to get everyone on the MS teet, suckling that Office goodness in a subscription they'd get for years and years to come. Just like you said, getting us to pay for more and more devices to have access.

    Instead, they're like confused about what they want to do. On the one hand, they want to charge the same as they always do for the single license, no subscription. And on the other, they want TONS of money from subscriptions, charging an insane amount for a year's worth of use of something. If they'd shave $10 off per copy that I wouldn't use on devices, let me decide how many devices i need to have access to the subscription, then this would be a great deal for me.

    Otherwise, I don't think they get who their competition really is. Sure, they're competing with Google Docs, LibreOffice, OpenOffice, etc. But that's not the real competition they should be afraid of.

    They should be afraid of everyone who has Office 2010/2007 who is looking at this and shrugging. Most of what 2013 offers in Skydrive functionality that ordinary users would appreciate can be duplicated by changing your FREE Skydrive account to look at your documents folder. And for anyone who had Skydrive before it was Skydrive, they have not 7 GB, but 25 GB already. I'd imagine quite a few of THOSE users already have Office 2010.

    So... by pricing this in the stratosphere, they've killed any and all impulse buying of this product.

    As far as I can tell from this "review," the only other real reason to get this is if you have a Touch device. How many x86 computers out there based on touch will be used via touch enough to make an Office built around touch worthwhile? How big is that audience?
  • flensr - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - link

    No subscription for me, no way. I got office 2007 student edition back in 2007, for under $100 if I recall correctly. I'm still using it, 5 years later and have no reason to upgrade. I know how to use it, it's compatible with everything I need to do.

    A subscription would be a total ripoff for me and my family. I'm just not going to do it.
  • benedict - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - link

    So Vivek graduated and got a job at Microsoft. Grats!

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