Office 2013 Review: Is it worth making the switch? Compelling Features You May Not Know About

As the most popular business software on the planet, Microsoft Office has been used by literally billions of users.  With any software, whenever a new version appears, the inevitable “Should I make the switch” questions appears and with good reason.  Some software updates seem like nothing more than superficial changes while others seem to take a step back.  Office 2013 does just the opposite by making real improvements while moving the Office suite forward.  When taken as a whole, the changes create a compelling argument for making the switch from previous versions of Office.


**Learn the Office 2013 essentials. Check out this on-demand, online course.**

Here’s a look at some reasons why:

Word 2013 – Word 2013 extends the application’s ability in handling PDF documents by allowing you to open and edit them right from within Word and then save the changes as a PDF file. A wide range of graphic enhancements have been introduced like the new Insert Pictures dialog, Live Layout and the new Insert Video dialog that lets you quickly add videos into a Word document.

Excel 2013 –  Excel returns better than ever with several outstanding new features.  One of them called FlashFill is a new way to quickly fill data into columns.  Charts get a makeover with the features Recommended Charts along with new Chart Customizations.  These tools give Excel a more “intelligent” approach to working with our data.

Outlook 2013 – Contacting others with email still remains the focus of Outlook 2013, but now it benefits from several key upgrades.  Topping the list are a wealth of messaging enhancements. For example, you can now reply right from within the reading pane without ever opening the mail.  And for keeping track of our contacts, the new People Cards simplify the whole process. No need to switch between different views to see your Calendar, Tasks or Contacts in Outlook.  Now you can utilize Peeks to show you a quick glance at that info without changing your view.

PowerPoint 2013 – If you develop or show off presentations then the changes in PowerPoint 2013 will make you sit up and take notice.  For developing presentations, we now have SmartGuides that help us along the way and also an easy to use Eye Drop Color Tool.  When it comes time to present your masterpiece, you’ll be pleased to learn that an Enhanced Presenter View has a host of new features that can enhance your presentation to the delight of your audience.  For maximum compatibility, PowerPoint 2013 now lets you turn your presentations into MP4 videos as well.

Office 2013 PPT pic

**Learn the Office 2013 essentials. Check out this on-demand, online course.**

In addition to these application specific enhancements, there are also changes held in common to the entire Office 2013 suite. They are as follows:

  • For mobile device users, be sure to check out Touch/Mouse mode located on the Quick Access toolbar.

  • Backstage on the File tab are several upgrades in the layout and commands. Check out the Open command as an example.

  • Take better control of the Tab and Ribbon navigation through Ribbon Display Options.

  • Share and access  your work with integrated SkyDrive connectivity. Quickly access your data and edit it from a variety of devices.

  • Users authenticate just once per session for all Office 2013 apps including SkyDrive.

Of course Microsoft Office is much more than Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.  Rounding out the suite are some other key applications that have received notable feature upgrades as well.  Check out the brand new ways to create and build Apps in Access 2013. Open OneNote 2013 to examine the brand new Full Page View and the brand new Send to OneNote dialog among other upgrades. In addition to the new Office 2013 interface, Project 2013, Visio 2013, Lync 2013 and Publisher 2013 all contain new commands, visual enhancements and interface improvements that improve on previous versions.

OneNote 2013 pic

**Learn the Office 2013 essentials. Check out this on-demand, online course.**

Finally, new security enhancements across the suite such as the new Office 2013 file encryption method can help admins decrypt Word, Excel and PowerPoint password-protected files where the password has been lost.  And enhancements to Office’s built in protective Preview mode provide greater security against exploits and blocking network access until the user deems the file safe.

Are you getting the feeling that there have been many changes? You are right! Are these changes worth making the switch? Are improvements that improve your workflow valuable to you? For many users the answer will be “Yes,” but with the provision that you learn not only what these features are but also how to get the most out of them.

JPETER HeadshotAbout the Author:

J. Peter Bruzzese (Microsoft MVP and Microsoft Certified Trainer) has over a dozen published books sold internationally to his credit. He is a technical author for various tech magazines and online publishing channels, as well as a technical speaker for Microsoft, 1105 Media, Pearson and others. In addition, he is a technical journalist for InfoWorld and is their “Enterprise Windows” columnist. Email: | Twitter: @JPBruzzese | Google+: J. Peter Bruzzese

Also read Peter’s other post where he discusses Windows 8 New Features.