Microsoft Office 2013 announced (updated)

Office 365 logoIt looks like rumors about the new Microsoft Office being unveiled today turned out to be true. Following the webcast (which we are covering on our live blog at the time of writing), Microsoft officially announced on its website its next-generation productivity suite. Firstly, it’s not going to be called Office 15 instead, Microsoft has decided to go with Office 2013. While not a huge departure from previous incarnations of Office, the latest version has a bunch of new features to make it go hand-in-hand with Windows 8. What sort of features, you ask? Namely – a touch-friendly UI.

Office 2013 will let you work efficiently using your mouse, keyboard as well as your touchscreen. Seeing how it’s being developed with Windows 8 in mind (the first version of Windows designed with tablets in mind), this version of Office is touted to work well with all forms of input. Yes, even stylus support is mentioned. New apps such as OneNote and Lync are now included in the suite, and they also feature touch-friendly UIs.

For folks who are thinking of picking up a Windows RT tablet, you’ll be glad to know that Office Home and Student 2013 RT will be included on the tablet as well. Content is saved to SkyDrive for support (no more hassle of manually transferring files yourself), settings are saved in the cloud (work with the same settings on your home and office PC), and even Office itself is going to be accessible from the cloud with Office on Demand (subscription required).

Skype is now going to be part of Office, which will make communicating with your colleagues or friends much easier when working together on a project. The People Card feature will also make it easy to obtain information about your contacts from any app within Office itself. Office 2013 is going to be available with three subscription services, each one offering additional tools and SkyDrive space depending on the package.

No word on pricing or an exact release date yet, but folks who can’t wait and want to try out Office 365 now, just head to Office.com to check out the customer preview (Windows 7 or Windows 8 required). Sounds like a pretty worthy update to the current version of Microsoft Office. Stay tuned for our first impressions in the near future.

[Press Release | Office 2013 customer preview]

Update (7/19): changed Office 365 to Office 2013 – I was confused by the mention of Office 365 in the preview, and no other mention of Office 2013 anywhere so I assumed it was going to be called Office 365. It looks like Microsoft will be calling it just Office, though officially it will be the 2013 version of the suite (just like the new iPad) hence Office 2013 when we’re referring to this version of it. I hope this clears things up!

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