Yesterday was another Microsoft announcement day. Only this time, it was the preview for the next version of Office (you’ll hear it called Office 15 or Office 2013). I was half surprised they didn’t include this in the Worldwide Partner Conference last week. It was certainly suggested that yesterday would be about the next version of Office. But then again they probably didn’t want it to appear to be focused just on partners, but to everyone.
Integration with Metro – This is the version of Office that has the Metro sensibility. I suspect it will be the example used for what Line of Business applications in Metro should be until there are other, better instances out there.
Integration with SkyDrive – One of the default locations to store a document is on SkyDrive. That is, in the cloud. The integration is nice. But one of the interesting features was the ability to pick up right where you left off. In other words, edit a document on your desktop at work and save it to the cloud. On your way home, open up the document on your laptop and it moves to the exact place in the document you were at on the desktop. Finally, the same thing happens when you open the document on your Windows Phone device (although I’m not imagining much editing going on through that form factor).
PDF integration – PDF files can be opened in Word, edited and then saved as either a Word or a PDF document. Enough said to know that’s sweet.
Flash Fill in Excel – This one is tough to explain quickly. It’s basically a tool to help your parse data from a separate cell. Figure it like the following: You have a column of data that is tilde delimited (‘1~15.3~kyle~hockey’ is the first cell, ‘3~17.8~curtis~soccer’ is the second and so on. In a separate column, but on the same row as the first cell, you type ‘kyle’. In the cell immediately below that you start to type ‘curtis’. Excel now makes the prediction that you are trying to extract the third value out of that column and fills in the rest of the values down the column. It’s an edge case, but if you need this functionality (and I have in the past), this is way cool.
Other Features – A rotator control to select font families, sizes and colors. Integration with Bing so that search results can be embedded into Word directly (and the embedded HTML is live). A slightly improved UI that is still a ribbon, but the spacing between icons is greater to allow for easier interactions with a touch interface. A new presenter view for PowerPoint, including built-in zooming.
If you want to try the preview, you can get it from here: http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/en. One word of warning. The C++ runtime used by Word is not compatible with the one used by Visual Studio 2012. As a result, you might get a warning indicating this when you launch VS2012 after installing the preview. There is a patch to this problem, available here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=3017. You’ll see this problem called out in the KB (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2703187).