back to article Microsoft Office 2013 heads for the cloud but fails to soar

The last few versions of Microsoft Office have divided users, and Office 2013 – due to reach General Availability in the first quarter of next year but available now as a limited free trial – will likely be no different, even though it largely follows a familiar course. Office 2007 brought us – love it or hate it – the Ribbon …


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  1. BongoJoe

    So I have these large databases and spreadsheets

    So, I have a number of Access databases, some are over one Gig in size (and betore anyone shouts - Access is robust for single user and the back up of Access files is simple: XCOPY does the trick).

    If I want to work with these in the Cloud then how do I get one GIg up there at my slow upload broadband speeds?

    And how do I trust anyone not to peek at my data which belongs to me and my company.

    If I had customer lists, contact details and so on, in these Cloudy things; how does the Data Protection Act view this? At the moment my stuff is kept safe here and not on anyone else's machines.

    And, more, how do I know that my data is being backed up daily and that I won't have the Feds crawl over my work and files because what I do is not legal in the Land of the Puritan?

    The Cloud? It's got to be a joke. When will someone finally see through this Emperor's New Clothes?

    1. JC_


      "And, more, how do I know that my data is being backed up daily and that I won't have the Feds crawl over my work and files because what I do is not legal in the Land of the Puritan?"

      Here's the first step, from the article:

      Mind you, you can still store files on your local drive. You just have to be explicit about it.

      If you want full control, go for it. Your local backup strategy can still be used.

    2. JDX Gold badge

      Re: So I have these large databases and spreadsheets

      Most of those questions are equally valid for ANY cloud-based storage. You'd have to do some proper research off your own bat.

  2. jerry 4

    Useful review -- but performance? Will it run on a 2 year old computer?

    I am running 2010 on a 2010 computer and IT IS SLOW while 2003 on that 2010 computer is blazing fast.

    What will 2013 be like on a 2010 computer?

    1. dogged

      Re: Useful review -- but performance? Will it run on a 2 year old computer?

      It's pretty quick on a 2008 PC running Windows 8 but how much of that is the Win8 optimisation and how much is Office, I really wouldn't want to guess.

      The only other box I've got it on is less than a year old so not really all that helpful.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Useful review -- but performance? Will it run on a 2 year old computer?

        It seems to run fine on my hp Compaq dx5150 which is about five years old.

  3. Julesthom


    I don't like the menus... I assumed they were just place holders in a beta screenshot... but they're TOO SHOUTY for me.

    Still can't fathom the ribbon though... baffling.

    1. Shane8


      Caps is also considered bad netiquette....

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: ALL CAPITALS

        So what, this is a menu not an IM chat.

        I just noticed, the titles on the right side of this page are all caps too: FORUMS, YOUR TOPICS, SPOTLIGHT, JOBS.

  4. Michael B.
    Thumb Up

    One Feature that made this upgrade worthwhile

    ...and that was the ability to open, edit and save* PDF documents from within Word. That is such a life saver you wouldn't believe.

    Elsewhere in Word there are lots of other solid improvements from the Navigation side panel to the improved properties sidepane and even the ability to directly insert a screenshot of another Program's Window.

    All in all, for me, a solid but worthwhile upgrade

    *I am aware that previous versions could save as PDFs

  5. sabba

    Another good reason not to upgrade.

    Thanks very much Microsoft but no thanks. It looks like I shall be staying with my current versions of Windows and Office indefinitely.

    1. Silverburn
      Thumb Up

      Re: Another good reason not to upgrade.


      Absolutely nothing is improved in this version as far as I can see. In fact much has been made worse - which is quite a feat given how awful Ribbon was in the first place.

    2. N2

      Re: Another good reason not to upgrade.


      It also looks like a smidgen of vendor arm twisting to go to Win7..

    3. frank ly

      Re: Another good reason not to upgrade.

      My copy of Office 2000 has kept on installing and working for many years. I've heard that some kind of new version is available, but I see no reason to change.

  6. Stacy
    Thumb Up

    Love it

    A few people in the office have tried the Beta and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

    There is nothing spectacular, but everything is just so much more pleasant than Office 2010 (that I am also a fan of).

    The author fails to mention some of the nicer points:

    - Office does, on the first attempt, suggest SkyDrive. But after a couple of saves it suggests the place where you save most of your documents. Much more useful than always suggesting the default My Documents

    - The way the cursor moves across the screen as you type is wonderful, it sort of glides rather than jumping from character to character. It doesn't sound like much until you try it, but it makes typing a lot more relaxing

    - Reply to mail defaults to a built in editor, rather than an pop out window - nice for 95% of the emails I type, and for those times when it's not it's very easy to make it pop out.

    The only thing I don't like is the amount of space it takes, but then that's common these days...

  7. Idy

    I tried the preview version tied in with our Office 365 account, and instantly reported the CAPITAL LETTER MENUS as a massive fail. Looks like they ignored feedback as usual. Also is it me, or have all the icons become super ugly?

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Realistically how long until that all slides into the background and you stop noticing it, exactly the way an newly plastered wall looks ugly and then 2 years later a dinner guest mentions "you're still doing the house up then?" and you realise you never got round to painting it!

  8. vagabondo

    Data Formats?

    Can anyone tell me what data formats are actually supported (read and write)? Is this fully ooxml ( ISO/IEC 29500 Strict) compliant? What about Open Document 1.2?

    1. dogged

      Re: Data Formats?

      Certainly OOXML (strict) but I haven't tested against OD1.2

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    powerpoint news?

    I'm using office 2010 for windows and 2011 for mac. The powerpoint for mac has, when connected to a projector, a kinda of a presenter cockpit - you as a presenter see not the presentation that runs on the projector, but the next slide, the notes of the actual slide and you can enter notes on on the current slide. Has this feature been implemented for office 2012 for windows as well now?

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: powerpoint news?

      Actually, Apple's Keynote in iWorks has this too, but with the added benefit that you can remote control the whole thing with an iPhone app which in landscape mode also gives you a "next slide" preview (in portrait it shows you the notes of the current slide).

      AFAIK, Powerpoint for Windows has had this from about Office 2003 onwards. That is, if you can use it. On some Windows laptops you have a conflict between the graphics manufacturer control program and the Windows display controller which means it's occasionally a fight to get it working in dual screen mode (not to mention that Windows does not seem intelligent enough to move Windows back to an available viewport when you close the extra screen, something OSX does automatically).

      If you really want to have fun presenting try this: hook up a v2 or later Apple TV to a big screen, and install Airparrot, available for both Windows and OSX (also works on older machines). And presto - cable free presenting. We've been doing this for months in our office - it even carries audio..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: powerpoint news?

        yes i have that keynote remote app. it's nice.

        what! i've been using powerpoint in win quite a lot, never noticed this feature. talking to other people made me think it was only on the mac - nobody has seen this so far on win (from my working circles). thanks for the tip! with the retina display you can output everything to the apple tv, no need for third party :), with the latest macos of course.

  10. Test Man

    So I'm reading the review - first page mentions how Office doesn't look much like Windows 7 or 8. Not a total criticism, but Office hasn't been styled after a particular OS design for quite some time. We can go back to Office for Windows 3.x as the last version that "matched" the OS design - Office 95 had title bar gradients, Office 97, 2000 and 2003 had non-standard design elements that didn't match any version of Windows at the time of release, 2007 looked quite different and 2010 again looks different!

    So in reality, it shouldn't come as a surprise that 2013 doesn't use the design cues from Windows 7 or 8.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      matching the OS

      This is true, and true again for Visual Studio and Internet Explorer, but no less of a balls-up for all that. Following the OS style is the default option. To present an alternative look and feel, someone has to go to a lot of effort to bypass the OS in order to create a jarring presentation that violates Windows Logo Program guidelines. It has always amazed me that MS are so keen to do this. To me, it is like displaying a big splash screen on startup that says THIS PROGRAM WOZ RITTEN BY A CLUELESS TURD!!!, except that the splash screen eventually goes away.

      You can be sure, of course, that Office will *always* get a Windows Logo on the box. It's only little people who have to follow the rules.

  11. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Total Absolute Failure

    The frigging ribbon takes up even more screen real-estate.

    All of us stuck with 1366x768 screens are sure gonna like that.

    MS really needs to fire all those in their usability department (if thay have one that is) becasue they obviously don't have a frigging clue about the real world usage of their products.

    Just to rub in their incompetance, why have they gone to CAPITALS? Are they really trying to burn(/flame) us into acceptance?

    1. dogged

      Re: Total Absolute Failure

      The frigging ribbon takes up even more screen real-estate.

      All of us stuck with 1366x768 screens are sure gonna like that.

      You did know you can minimize it, right?

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Office team STILL dancing to their different drummer

    Notoriously they've always done their own takes on UI, such as introducing the gradient filled window title way back in pre-Win95 days. Mostly harmless, sometimes adopted by the rest of the UI and eventually part of the design book. Back then they surely felt they were dragging the ugly-fuggers into a world of design, but now that MS is staking its all on the new design ethos of TIFKAM and facing substantial resistance from both customers and external developers they can't afford to have their signature apps standing back too and saying "nice ... but we can do it better!"

    This was some washing better kept in the corporate laundry - shades of Dominic's OS/2 write-up where duelling corporate factions use their customer's site, wallet, and patience for the arena.

  13. badmonkey

    SkyDrive cock up

    >>> If I open a document from SkyDrive in Word 2013, lose my network connection, then try to save my changes, the operation seemingly completes without an error message... [re-opening opens old local copy]

    There are other issues - although that on its own seems like a major deal breaker. Who is going to recommend a product that does the above?!

    I found that this default SkyDrive integration is badly incompatible with desktop SkyDrive (the sync client). On opening an old doc in the newly installed Word 2013, I get thrown some “error”: “a problem needs your attention” – it essentially just wants you to re-save the document, thereby sync'ing with SkyDrive from within Word, but that was stupid for a collection of hundreds of old docs none of which ever need editing again - and are already sync'ed via SkyDrive desktop!

    It then porked the sync with SkyDrive desktop, with the little green tick icons on the file icons in Explorer turning to red errors, and SkyDrive complaining that it couldn't sync them. Great.

    Had to turn it off, otherwise you’d have to go through and re-save (and change file mod date) every old doc you ever opened to view.

    Utterly stupid and whoever let this through without user testing deserves worse than whoever was responsible for even the dumber ideas in Windows 8.

  14. Great Bu

    It just looks....

    ...a bit windows 3.1-ish to me.

  15. annodomini2

    Retina burn special

    All white, high contrast everywhere, Caps for menus, looking at it you'd think they were deliberately trying to destroy peoples eyesight!

    The Caps make menu names harder to read.

    The all black icons are difficult to distinguish from each other.

    Ribbon is still useless.

    Where are the benefits of this again?

    Utter FAIL I.M.O.

  16. JDX Gold badge


    I saw no mention, wasn't Skype supposed to be integrated with Office?

    1. dogged

      Re: Skype

      It isn't so far. Possibly that's one of these updates we're told will be arriving.

    2. RICHTO

      Re: Skype

      Skype is already integrated with Office - It's part of Lync:

  17. Spoonsinger


    "Don't use all capital letters for emphasis. Studies have shown that this is hard to read, and users tend to regard it as "screaming." For warnings, use a warning icon and a clearly-worded explanation of the situation. There is no need to add, for example, the term WARNING in all capital letters."

    Ref :-

    UI Design Guide Section :- 'Capitalization'

    1. badmonkey
      Thumb Up

      Re: UMMMMMMM......

      Very good.


    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: UMMMMMMM......

      Ah, yes, but those were the Windows 7 guidelines. Human beings are different now.

  18. P. Lee


    Is that like using sftp:// urls in kde, but without the chance to pick your own server?

    Or ftp:// in ancient versions of OOo?

    I'll bet with a bit of tweaking of kde, you could use imap:// with gmail. Hmm, local caching, internet store...

    Windows... meh

  19. frank ly

    Office 2013's 'austere' windows look ...

    ... has similarities to the Google Docs look. Have Microsoft been 'inspired.?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All caps is actually logical..

    .. as it makes the application more compatible with Ballmer..

    However, what I find even more interesting is the fanatic push towards storing data in what is for most an extra-judicial location. Honestly, in the era of data theft ad infinitum and cockups by those who should know better, who is going to host their data on servers in a nation even less trusted than China when it comes to espionage?

    Moreover, AFAIK, anyone in the EU who does this with client data without the required due diligence may break Data Protection laws, and that is *your* liability, not Microsoft's/Google's/Apple's/Whoever hosts outside the EU's..

  21. graeme leggett Silver badge


    How many of the issues - eg save to SkyDrive as default- are fixable under options/preferences?

    I'm guessing default save location (and document type?) can be tweaked somewhere, if only so corporates can force some settings control through Group Policy.

    1. dogged

      Re: configuration-ability

      Save location is certainly a Group Policy option. I must go test against document type when time allows.

      1. dogged

        Re: configuration-ability

        I see somebody dislikes actually giving out information in response to queries.

        Makes it so much harder to FUD an article, right Eadon?

  22. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Are they ever..

    .. going to bring out a version that returns the productivity they keep stealing with all that gadgetry?

    A productivity destroying UI, coupled with auto.whatsits that mess up even your main activity in a word processor (typing), stored in a profoundly unsafe place which you have to rent - thus providing your own data as ransom.

    All I'm waiting for is the announcement of a new file format incompatible with the old ones, always requiring multiple actions to save in the older formats ("which may lose features and functionality")..

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Are they ever..

      Good totally subjective post there Fred. Well, it's not 100% subjective if I'm fair, the objective parts are simply incorrect. "Profoundly unsafe" indeed... because your local hard-drive is statistically safer than a data-centre with RAID-6, etc, etc.

  23. Corborg

    Head in the cloud

    I have a cloud. It's a NAS in my basement. It works for me, I can access it anywhere and I back it up.

    The more companies try to force me into the subscription services the less likely I am to use them. It doesn't work for me, I know it does for some.

    I'm waiting for the day we get over the remote cloud obsession. The next big thing will be for us all to have our own personal cloud hosted at home :p

    1. MartinHatch

      Re: Head in the cloud

      Sorry .. but a NAS in your basement is not "the cloud" .. its an internet/proxy enabled NAS drive

      The whole point of "the cloud" is that:

      a) you don't need to know where it is

      b) the location / infrastructure is completely transparent

      c) you don't need to worry about replicating / backing up your content

      d) it is provided as a "managed service"

  24. MartinHatch
    Thumb Up

    enough of the trolling ..

    I've been using Office 2013 since the early previews and there is much to like (you seem to have completely missed the now standard PowerPivot integration in Excel .. or the Social Network (Facebook / LinkedIn) integration in Outlook contacts .. or the new "jump to page you were looking at" in Word).

    Almost all of the comments coming from the author here are either ignorance (most of the things he's complaining about you can change in the options) or failure of understanding in how some people use Office.

    e.g. You can disable the "Open/Save to SkyDrive" in the options and make it default to "Computer"

    For all those people complaining about the uppercase tabs .. its a tab title .. does it really matter? If that is the only thing you can really pick holes in then you are just trolling.

  25. Alan Bourke

    Have we really made it this far in the comments

    without someone saying that Wordperfect 5.1 for DOS still does everything they need

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Have we really made it this far in the comments

      Admittedly when responding to another post about bloat, I was tempted to say something about Wordwise Plus probably being able to do what most people need ... :)

    2. badmonkey

      Re: Have we really made it this far in the comments

      I always thought 6.1 for Windows was rather good, and in some respects MS Word is still not its equal.


  26. Colin Millar

    guessing the correct values

    So - sticking with the traditional Excel accuracy levels then

  27. Mark Wilson

    Not bad but hard to see why

    I have been using it for a while now and bits are quite nice and I would have no issues buying it if I needed another copy of Office. I don't however need another copy and I really struggle to see a big reason to upgrade, I guess most people are in the same boat regarding this and many will ask 'why?'

  28. Mikel

    Install footprint

    Have they hit a terabyte yet?

    1. RICHTO

      Re: Install footprint

      Try installing the free preview. It will be the fastest office install you have ever seen....

    2. badmonkey

      Re: Install footprint

      The preview installer exe is smaller than 2010's, comparing Pro to Pro so I think that's fair.

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