I am beta testing Microsoft Office 2013 at the moment.  Not too many changes you will be pleased to hear.  Still based around the ribbon user interface.  The main change is the relationship that Office has with the cloud.  You download the applications to your devices based on your Microsoft ID.  Saving by default is to the SkyDrive though your recently used folders are also displayed when saving.

This is the first or a number of posts in which I explore some of the best features.  Focusing on general features and Word to start with:

1. I really like the Resume Reading feature – if you are editing a document, save and reopen.  Resume Reading will take you back to where you were last editing (Word and PowerPoint).

2. There is also improved alignment guides which will make it easier to include images and tables in a document.

3. Track changes has at last been improved so you can enforce track changes (can’t be turned off without a password) and see a conversation about a change as a conversation rather than a series of bubbles.

4. You can edit a pdf document from within the new version of Word and save it as either a Word document or PDF.  Very useful but sort of defeats the idea of sending pdf versions.

5. The new version of Office is coming out with Windows 8 and the new Windows tablet device (Microsoft Surface – release date rumoured to be October 26, cost from £199) so it is good to see that the Office programs have a ‘touch’ mode which widens the space between buttons and flattens the menu to make it easier to use when tapping.

6. Also thinking about tablets, there is a reading mode for documents which is a full screen, readonly mode with swipe to turn pages, seaching and the ability to expand photos or tables by double clicking or tapping.

Overall I’m very impressed with Office 2013 so far – it all seems a bit slicker and easier to use rather than any major improvements.   You can download the beta version from Microsoft

Let me know what you think.