Excel's new features are a mix of goodies for the bean counter and tools for the average user. For everyone, there are helpful features like Flash Fill. Essentially Autocomplete 2.0, Flash Fill detects existing patterns in a spreadsheet and helps replicate them automatically, although it seems to only work in very specific cases. For more advanced users, there are PivotTable enhancements, such as the ability to suggest the best way to have selected data transmuted into a PivotTable, and a genuinely useful data visualization feature called Quick Analysis Lens, which lets you preview charts and graphs of selected data in much the same way you've been able to preview applied text styles for Office documents.
Excel's new Quick Analysis Lens feature gives you immediate and multiple visualizations for selected ranges of data.
Most of the changes in PowerPoint are minor, but handy. You'll find new alignment and object-placement tools to make presentations look consistent across slides, a revamped presenter's view (you can now navigate and rearrange slides via a presenter-only grid view, for instance), and automatic setup for multiple displays. I'm surprised Publisher hasn't been completely eclipsed by Word, but it remains popular with home and small-business users, so Microsoft has kept it for 2013. Access, too, remains in the suite, even if most of its functionality for end-users has been gradually eclipsed by everything from Outlook to Web-based services like Remember the Milk. The final standout is OneNote (not available as an Office On Demand app), which faces stiff competition from the likes of Evernote these days but gets a major boost by allowing notes to be automatically synced via SkyDrive and SharePoint hosting.
The presentation view for slide decks is one of the few features that have been revamped for PowerPoint.
An Office app storeOne new feature I'm still on the fence about is Apps for Office, which lets you add various tools -- dictionaries, textual analyzers, bar code creators -- that developers make available (generally for a fee) in the Office Store. Install an app, and it appears in a pane to one side of the current document. Not all of the apps I tried worked, unfortunately, and some of them were little more than repurposed websites. I suspect this feature needs a bit more polish and a better roster of apps before it can be taken seriously, but I like where it could go. With Excel, for instance, the add-ins encompass genuinely useful features, like tools for generating heat maps and other data visualizations.