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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  • N4g4rok - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    It's not that bad.

    If you use all if the applications that usually come with the Professional editions of office, then after 4 years, you've paid the same price for five installations of it as you would have for a single one. Plus, the subscription gives you access to an upgrade when the new version comes out. Which is likely to happen in 3 - 4 years. combine that with the free Skype minutes and extra Skydrive storage, and it isn't that bad a deal.
  • colonelpepper - Saturday, February 2, 2013 - link

    Actually it's pretty flippin terrible.

    I've been using office 2003 for 10 years... it works perfectly. Apart from aesthetics (which have gotten worse) there is no compelling reason for almost anyone to upgrade past 2003.

    Another fact: Almost nobody "uses all of the applications" that come with Office
    Another fact: The only way that microsoft can convince people to upgrade has been to implement backwards-INcompatible file formats with each successive iteration of Microsoft office.

    This push for subscription-based software which you don't own is COMPLETELY TERRIBLE for user rights. Nobody, absolutely NOBODY should be defending microsoft here... it is completely inexcusable (this push for subscription based Office).

    Download LibreOffice! There's the link. It costs nothing. It is free of spyware (unlike office). It does everything that will satisfy the needs of 99.9999999999% of all "office users".

    ...where is the LibreOffice review Anandtech???
    or is it corporate propaganda articles only these days?
  • cjl - Saturday, February 2, 2013 - link

    While I agree that the office rental is a pretty bad deal, MS has not implemented "backwards-INcompatible file formats with each successive iteration of office" (or anywhere close to it, really). The formats stayed constant up through 2003, through several iterations, and then they changed once in 2007 (but they retained the ability to save in backwards-compatible formats). Then, Office 2010 and now 2013 share the same file formats as 2007, so once again, there is no forced obsolescence. In addition, Office 2007 (and later) added significant features over the older versions, so there are plenty of reasons to switch aside from mere aesthetics.

    As for LibreOffice? I've tried it, and unfortunately, it lacks many features compared to MS Office. It works fine for basic users (and to be honest, if you're happy with the feature set of Office 2003, you are a basic user, and LibreOffice would probably be an upgrade as far as features are concerned), but if you use some of the more advanced features in Office, it isn't really a viable substitute.
  • N4g4rok - Saturday, February 2, 2013 - link

    When you say "subscription-based software which you don't own", i'm not entirely sure what your issue is. Ownership in all practicality is the same as buying the individual license. Yes, it's more like leasing than purchasing, but that isn't inherently a bad thing.

    "It is free of spyware (unlike office)"

    I'm not even sure what you're getting at there. It sounds a little paranoid, but the definition of spyware could be muddied to include the improvement program microsofts implements. There's an opt-out for that as well, so i don't know how your 'Spyware' accusation holds any ground.

    "Nobody, absolutely NOBODY should be defending microsoft here"

    Naturally, i don't agree. supporting microsoft does not immediately make you a shill or a throwaway in a debate about software companies. Microsoft isn't the evil company that some would claim they are.
  • Ant-Acid - Sunday, March 10, 2013 - link

    So I am a sucker for being in front even after 20 yrs of "renting" Office?

    To get the same apps (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Onenote, Outlook, Access, And Publisher.) as a once off purchase for 1 PC is ~$550 here in Australia.
    Now multiply that by the 5 PC's that we each have in my house.
    That's $2750.
    Now divide that by $119 for Office 365 HP. That's ~23 years of "renting" and then I am starting to better off purchasing outright, and I don't have to find $2750 right now.

    The subscription is for the *current* version (read: free upgrades) as well.
  • tipoo - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    All that white is an eyesore.
  • steven75 - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - link

    You just don't get it, maaaan. He *designers* say everything should be endless white space. That's like, what the future is. Nothing with be distinguishable at a glance--just white space as far as the eye can see!
  • nalim - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    "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."
    What a lame logic!
  • JediJeb - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - link

    Just because some people find the Ribbon to be lame does not make them lame themselves. Everyone has a different way of thinking, and to some the Ribbon is illogical at best.

    If everyone's thought process was exactly the same, there would only be one style of house, one style of automobile, one type of computer, one type of food, ect. What one finds stupid and useless another finds perfectly logical and useful. You like the Ribbon, some don't. Thinking everyone should is the lame logic here.
  • Arbie - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    Is this about you or about Office 365?

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