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Microsoft unveils Office 2013

Microsoft has unveiled the latest version of its popular productivity software, Office 2013, promising a slew of new features, a redesigned interface, and complete integration with Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Skype, and a number of other services.

Microsoft has unveiled the latest version of its popular productivity software, Office 2013, promising a slew of new features, a redesigned interface, and complete integration with Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Skype, and a number of other services.

Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, made the announcement at a press conference in San Francisco, calling the new software suite the “most ambitious release of Microsoft Office that we've ever done.”
The main focus of Office 2013, which has gone under the codename Office 15, is the new Windows 8 experience, with a completely revamped interface that makes it look, feel and act like Metro. Everything can be controlled by touch, menus are hidden, but easily accessible when needed, and the cloud and social experience are built into the heart of the applications.
Collaboration is also a key feature across all of the programs, with multiple users able to access the same documents from the cloud and make use of new annotation tools to make notes and changes with the use of a finger or stylus. Skype integration means that people can set up a Skype call from within the software and anyone in the conversation can load up, for example, a PowerPoint presentation for collaborative work.
Kirk Koenigsbauer, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft, gave a demonstration of some of the new features users can expect with Office 2013.
Powerpoint will have touch controls, which allows users to zoom in and out, change slides, and so on with the use of their fingers. Annotations are also a big thing, letting users write notes on slides even in the middle of a presentation – particularly useful if there is an error that needs correcting or some additional information is needed. The stylus can also be turned into a laser pointer tool for more easily directing people's attentions to certain parts of a slide. 
Perhaps the coolest feature, however, is that the presenter will have a different view than those watching the presentation, showing various extra buttons, how many slides are available, cheat sheets of notes, and even a clock and timer so the talk does not go over time.
Outlook has a new layout, with touchscreen support again, but it also comes with several new features. A quick actions tab allows users to flag, move, or delete emails with a single tap, while in line replies make for tidier email discussions. The “peaks” feature lets users see a preview of the calendar, people and other tabs without having to click into them, kind of like previews of programs pinned to the Windows 7 taskbar. 
It also comes with app support, with two apps demonstrated, including Bing Maps, which will scan emails for addresses and show them on the map, and Suggested Appointments, which allows for easy saving to the calendar.
One Note becomes a bigger part of the Office suite, adding to its already popular note-taking abilities with things like a radial menu, a circular context-aware menu that takes away most of the clutter. Fonts can be changed in size or colour using this, all with the use of finger or stylus, while annotation is also easier than ever.
Word gets a new view called reading mode, which displays documents like ebooks. They look much more impressive and have more functionality, including the ability to play videos embedded in the document.
The text will also resize for any device and users can use the live layout feature to insert, resize, and move images, etc. using their fingers, with guidelines set in place and the text automatically wrapping around.
Excell becomes more user-friendly in Office 2013, with some of its more complex features opened up to more casual users. There will be “smart filling” of tables, where Excell automatically fills the rest of a column or row with the applicable details based on the first or second input of data, while “quick analysis” will allow creation of tables and charts with one or two clicks, even previewing what it will look like.
The cloud is a big thing for Microsoft right now and plays just as big a role in Office 2013, with users able to save and access all their documents on the cloud. Settings and saved dictionary additions will also carry over, and all of this can be utilised form any device. It also has a “last location” feature that highlights the last place the user worked on a document, which is particularly handy for edits in large files.
Social is also pivotal, with Office 2013 adding people cards to Sharepoint, along with a new user interface that is more intuitive and easier to use. It can also aggregate a multitude of social feeds, and documents can be shared to Facebook, uploaded to a blog, or otherwise become part of a wider social experience.
A preview is available immediately from Office.com. There is no word yet on a release date, but it will likely coincide with the launch of Windows 8 or follow not long after.

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