July 20, 2012, 3:26 PM — With the latest iteration of Office, Microsoft pledges to bring the documents and services you need to run a business to any screen you choose, from a PC to a touch-enabled Windows Surface tablet or Windows 8 Phone. After using the Office 2013 preview suite on a Windows 8 tablet, we are impressed by many of the steps Microsoft has taken to make its Office franchise touchscreen ready and cloud friendly.
If you're searching for the ultimate mobile-savvy office suite for a tablet, look no further. Compititors available on other platforms, such as DataViz's Docs to Go or Quickoffice and services, including CloudOn, Nivio, Online Desktop and InstallFree Nexus, which deliver virtualized, full-blown versions of Office apps, lack the unified soup-to-nuts office document, collaboration, and editing functionality that Office 2013 delivers.
But youll probably have to pay dearly for the no-compromise experience of Office 2013 or Office 365 (the subscription-based software-as-a-service alternative that combines desktop installations with cloud-based access on remote devices). Microsoft hasn't disclosed pricing yet, but it's difficult to imagine a scenario where the subscription fees in the course of a year or two would undercut what they'd charge for a conventional one-time desktop installation.
Comparing Apples to Oranges
Also, we dont yet know what mobile devices either Office 2013 or Office 365 will support. When asked, Office spokespeople have indicated that some form of Office Mobile (currently available only for Windows Phone) will be forthcoming for Android and iOS devices. But it's highly unlikely we'll see a full-blown version of Office running on the Apple and Google mobile operating systems.
We also have yet to see whether, as Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer promised, Office 2013 will run as smoothly on an ARM-based tablet running Windows 8 RT (the version of Windows 8 for tablets that arent based on x64 or x86 CPUs) as it did on the tablet PC used to show off the suite's new features at Monday's official unveiling of the public beta. The touch optimization was admittedly impressive, but we were witnessing a best-case scenario: Samsung's touch-enabled tablet PC running Office on the desktop version of Windows 8.