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

There have been plenty of other changes in Word, including alignment guides that make it easier to precisely position photos, charts, pictures and diagrams. There's also a new Design tab in the Ribbon that puts all design feature and functions in a single location -- you can choose from a variety of document templates, and also change text colors, fonts and paragraph spacing; add watermarks; and change page colors and page borders. The Navigation Pane has also gotten a slight facelift, with a simpler, cleaner-looking layout that makes it less confusing to navigate around documents.

One change shows that sometimes the smallest and simplest alteration can be a big time-saver. Word finally has the feature I've been wanting for years: When you stop reading or editing a document, a bookmark is automatically placed in the last location you scrolled to, even if your cursor wasn't there. The next time you open the document, you're asked if you want to jump to the place where you left off. If the document has been synced to SkyDrive, when you next open the document from SkyDrive you can go to that same bookmarked spot as well.

People who share documents, make changes and comment on others' documents, or have them make changes or comment on theirs will welcome several improvements to Word's review features. One particularly useful one is Simple Mode, which makes it easy to review the changes and suggestions that others have made to a document.

In this mode, you see a clean version of your document with others' changes incorporated, but you also see indications where changes have been made -- for example, a red horizontal line indicating that text has been deleted. In this way, it's easy to do two things at once: see how the document will read with the changes made, but also see where edits have been made. To see the actual edits, just choose All Markup from the dropdown box on the Review tab.

Also useful is the new ability to lock a document into commenting mode. That way someone can't turn off tracking changes, and you'll always be able to see any edits made to a document.

There's also a somewhat useful new sharing tool similar to a feature that was introduced in PowerPoint 2010 (but was not available in Word 2010). You can now share a Word document online, even with people who don't have Word, as long as they have Internet access. Send a link, and they'll be able to see your document in their browser as you scroll through it.

PowerPoint

PowerPoint 2013 gets new features in three areas: creating slides, giving presentations and sharing presentations.


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