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Overall Impressions: Microsoft Office 2013

Office2013-1You’ve seen my thoughts on Outlook 2013, Word 2013, and Excel 2013 previously – now, I wanted to take a step back and look at the entire suite itself. The “fat” Office application suite has been with us so long, it’s almost easy to forget that this was a very non-cohesive set of programs not so long ago. Microsoft has certainly made gains in that regard as it integrates and includes no less than 9 different tools in the full Office 2013 package. Let’s take a look at the bigger picture.

Interface

Consistency is a big thing for all of the applications in the Office 2013 suite. The Interface across all of the applications appears to have removed window borders and folder icons in an apparent effort to make everything look flatter. It does feel like space is being utilized better across all applications. The ribbon icons above all applications appear largely unchanged, which is great if you’re still learning how to make use of those. As you might expect, all of the icons and general visual elements have changed. As an example, Outlook 2010 had a Yellow theme running through it’s interface elements. In Outlook 2013, all of these elements have a dark or navy blue look to them.

No Metro UI For You

Yes, maybe it’s better to call it “The Windows Square-y Interface”, but I’ll stick with Metro. Nowhere in the core Office 2013 application is Metro found or used. In fact, the closest you’ll come to Metro in the core applications is probably the Word 2013 document reading mode. I have seen versions of OneNote in the RT version of Office 2013 that seems to support Metro (and apparently Lync does this too). This really reflects bad on Microsoft, who released the Office 2013 package very close to Windows 8 availability (and the introduction of the Metro interface).

You’ll also be pleased to know, the ability to preview Office documents from within the File Explorer is still possible with Windows 8/Office 2013.

Versions

As of this writing, there will be three primary locally installed versions available. They include Home & Student ($139.99), Home & Business ($219.99), and Professional ($399.99). Other versions will be out there with volume or enterprise agreements, but most small businesses won’t need to be aware of them.

You’ll need to buy Home &  Business if you need the Outlook 2013 email application. if you need the database application Access 2013, Professional is the version you’ll need. Most small businesses will likely be buying Home &  Business, which for the 2013 edition is having it’s price increased by $20 or more. If you buy a computer at big box store, and it includes Office 2013, it will likely be the  Home & Student edition – so be careful you aren’t  surprised.

System Requirements

Microsoft has published it’s system requirements for Office 2013 on microsoft.com. This might be a moving target closer to the suite’s release date, so it’s best to check there for updated information.

Technically Speaking

The space Office 2013 uses on your hard drive is most certainly growing. A Professional Plus 2013 32bit installation I tested came in at close to 1.2 gigabyte used for various files on the disk. If I recall, Professional Plus 2007 32-bit maxed out somewhere around 533 megabytes. You can expect 64-bit versions to use even more. Since drive space is extremely easy and cheap to get, most users won’t care about this.

The standard location for the installation of Office 2013, where you’ll find most binaries and install files, is located here:

“C:\Program Files[(x86)]\Microsoft Office\Office15”

All of the applications still use the same executable names like “OUTLOOK.EXE” and “WINWORD.EXE” and there are still much too many DLL files included. Also part of Office 2013 are the “STARTUP” and “XLSTART” folders. This likely means add-ins will continue to exist in some form.

Outlook 2013 continues to place it’s PST and OST files, by default, in the following location:

“C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\%FileName%.pst”

Final Thoughts

For many years, Microsoft has had a monopoly on Office Suites. This is unlikely to change much in the offline world (where many businesses are still running). Office 2013 has a few changes , but certainly not anything that is going to turn off it’s existing customer base – a smart move for Microsoft. You can expect this to be as popular as PCs continue to be – declining, but still a strong market. If you’d like to get take a look at the Office 2013 suite yourself, you can get a preview release before the product hits general availability.