Microsoft finally releases Office 2013 details, public beta

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Microsoft has unveiled the details the next major update to its Office suite of products – Office 2013, and has also revealed plans to introduce a “home premium” version of Office 365. As well, the company has introduced the public preview of Office 2013, allowing users to try it out before its release date – which is still up in the air.

Office 2013 brings an entirely revamped user interface that is a merger between Metro and the Ribbon UI we all know from Office 2007. It brings new touch responses for Windows 8, and will integrate with the cloud – with your content saved on SkyDrive by default so it can be taken with you anywhere and on any computer. Your settings will also be stored on the cloud, so your personalised settings are never lost.

Two applications – OneNote and Lync – will be available through the Windows 8 Store as they have been designed to take advantage of the Metro user interface on Windows 8. The rest of the applications are still traditional pieces of software and will be only available with the purchase of Office.

Office 365 is also getting a revamp with three new plans: Home Premium, Small Business Premium, and ProPlus. All will give you access to the core Office apps of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Access and Publisher; but will also give you an additional 20GB of SkyDrive storage, 60 minutes of Skype credit per month and Office on Demand – where you can ‘stream’ Office from any computer via the cloud.

Office 365 Small Business Premium and Office 365 ProPlus are its business-orientated plans with Exchange, SharePoint, Lync support. It also adds Project and Visio to its line of applications you can download and use across five different PCs or Macs. Businesses will also like the fact that Microsoft has heavily integrated Skype and Yammer with this edition of Office.

Office 2013’s consumer preview is available now, and only for those on Windows 7 and Windows 8 – Vista and XP users are not supported.

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