Office 15 (likely Office 2013) is in private beta now and will have a public beta your can play with next month, in June 2012. The product should release to manufacturing (RTM) late this year and likely be available to buy very early in 2013.
Initially users will notice that the new products all use a Metro styled “washed out” look with only a few important items having colour but past that there are many changes. Paul Thurrott has written a solid piece on this new version and below are some excerpts.
“…Each of the applications also provides a new Start Experience, which should be a boon to less experienced users… This experience basically provides a visual grid of prebuilt templates so you can create a nicely designed document (or whatever) from the get-go. Power users will be excited to discover they can disable this screen…
Microsoft’s oldest Office application picks up a new Quick Analysis Lens to more quickly and easily create visual representations of your data. The application also recommends Charts and PivotTables that are most appropriate for the selected data, rather than let you fuddle around through the many available templates.
The world’s most popular word processor picks up a nice new Read Mode that uses those Metro ideals to present documents—including, for the first time, PDF documents—in a nice display that automatically reflows using columns depending on the screen width and orientation. Like many Office 15 applications, Word also features a handy bookmark feature called Resume Reading that helps you pick up document re-edits exactly where you were the last time you used the application. The Navigation pane has been improved to be actually usable in this release, and a new Present Online feature, similar to that in PowerPoint, lets you share documents with others through a browser, even if they don’t have Word installed.
Microsoft’s presentation package finally defaults to a widescreen 16:9 format, though it will give businesses stuck on the old 4:3 VGA format fits until they figure out how to switch back. …a dramatically improved Presenter View provides a better-than-ever two-screen experience. PowerPoint provides the Resume Reading feature, too, so you can pick up editing where you left off.
…Office 15 provides improved digital ink support to take advantage of the coming generation of new Tablet PCs and other touch devices, better tables support, better cloud-to-PC syncing, and, perhaps most crucially, an ever-expanding set of OneNote apps for mobile platforms including Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad, Android phones, and Nokia Symbian Belle handsets.
…With Outlook 15, we’re getting a refined user experience with better navigation between the email, calendar, people, and tasks modules, and a new Peeks feature for quickly viewing information about your schedule, a person, a task, and other objects without leaving the current view and navigating to the relevant module. It featues in-line replies, a new weather bar (in Calendar only, curiously), and finally integrates correctly with multiple email sources, including Hotmail (without requiring an add-on.)…”
Read the full article at http://www.windowsitpro.com/article/office/office-15-milehigh-view-142847
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