Office 2013 beta review: Microsoft (almost) nails it

The new software sports a clean interface and excellent new features, but only so-so cloud integration.

By Preston Gralla, Computerworld |  Software, Microsoft

On the plus side, Office 2013 includes direct links to SkyDrive throughout -- you can easily open any document that's on SkyDrive from inside any Office application; likewise, you can easily save any document to SkyDrive. But only OneNote has an automated sync feature; Microsoft hasn't taken the next step of ensuring that all Office applications automatically sync the latest version of your documents to every device you use.

Files don't automatically get saved to SkyDrive from your local PC; you have to remember to save them there. Let's say, for example, that you're at your office and you create a document and save it locally, but not to SkyDrive. That document is available only on your local PC, so if you're on another computer, you won't be able to open the document.

Consider this more troublesome scenario: You save the document on your local computer and decide that you might want to work on it elsewhere, so you also save it to SkyDrive. At some point later, you work on it from another computer, accessing it from SkyDrive and saving it to SkyDrive. Then you go back to your original computer, but you forget that you last worked on the document on SkyDrive, so you open up the local copy. You make local changes, which means that you now have two different versions of the same document, one on SkyDrive and one on your local PC.

What makes this confusion all the more surprising is that Microsoft has an easy solution at hand: a SkyDrive client app, which can be installed on Windows devices and Macs, as well as on Windows Phone, iOS and Android devices. With the SkyDrive app, all documents in local and Web-based SkyDrive folders automatically sync to the cloud and to other devices. When you make a change on a local PC, the file automatically syncs to SkyDrive in the cloud, and from there to all your other devices. You're always working with the latest version of your document, no matter where you made the change.

Microsoft only had to include the SkyDrive app in Office 2103 to enable this feature. But for some reason, it hasn't done that. It currently appears as if the SkyDrive app won't be included in the shipping version of Office 2013, although that may change between now and then. There is a simple workaround, though: Install it manually yourself.

Other global Office changes

Office has also been touch-enabled so that it's usable on a tablet -- surprisingly usable, in fact. Navigation using touch is simple, although you'll need to turn on the Ribbon in many cases to perform tasks by tapping the appropriate command. Office is also smart enough to know when you're in an area that requires text input, and pops up an on-screen keyboard at the appropriate times.


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