Microsoft Office 2013 features new look, prices

Microsoft's refreshed productivity suite sports a major design overhaul and seamless cloud integration—at a higher price.

By Yardena Arar, PC World |  Enterprise Software, Microsoft Office, office 2013

The new Design tab gathers styles and other formatting options in one place, so you can easily try out different looks for your work. Word also now supports PDF editing (it converts PDFs to Word and then saves them back as PDFs). In my tests, regrettably, Word mangled the formatting somewhat on a complex PDF, but it fared better with simpler forms.

Next page: More about Word, plus Excel

Word offers a few innovative sharing options beyond SkyDrive. For instance, you can show your Word document to someone who isnt running Word by creating and sending a share link (available either with or without editing privileges). This lets the recipient see (and, if authorized, edit) the document in a browser as you scroll through it. The program also has a command for posting to social networks, which basically provides a read-only or read-write link to the document in SkyDrive.

Microsoft has also tweaked the review and revision tools. The cleaned-up Simple Markup view spares you a lot of the clutter from deletions and comments in a heavily edited document. Word now supports replies to comments for more orderly tracking of conversations, and once a comment has been addressed, you can mark it as done. You can also password-protect the ability to stop tracking changes, so no one can fiddle with a document without being detected.

Excel adds tools for analyzing data

Excel 2013 has some of the most appealing and potentially useful new features in the Office 2013 suite, as the additions help with entering, analyzing, and presenting spreadsheet data.

The new Flash Fill feature can detect patterns (beyond the numerical and date patterns Excel has long been able to recognize), and autocompletes empty fields as appropriate.

For example, if youve pasted a list of similarly formatted email addresses (say, firstname.lastname@domain.com) into a column, you can then type the first two first names into the first two cells of another column, select the entire column, and click the Flash Fill option to see Excel insert the rest of the first names instantly.

Excel also makes it easier to figure out how to wrangle a bunch of data in a spreadsheet. Select an entire table, and a small Quick Analysis button appears by the lower-right corner. You can click the button to view thumbnails of several graph and charting options, and then click one to apply it. Not sure how best to massage the data? Excel also offers buttons that generate chart and pivot table recommendations. A timeline slicer makes it easier to examine data from a specific time period within a larger set of data. Creating mashups with third-party data sources is also easier.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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