On July 16th, Microsoft released a preview version of Office 2013. Here is my review.
Installation attempt #1¶
I try to install the Preview from Microsoft site. It uses a Metro-ish web installer, and the first phase sits always on the top of my Windows (a big usability problem, because I was doing some important work in other apps). Somewhere in the process, it asked me to close MSO, although I do not have it installed (except for Word/Excel/PowerPoint Viewers). I allowed him to do so, and it crashed. Afterwards, MSO apps did not work. And I got a million crash resolution windows.
As stated before, MSO apps did not work. An attempt to fire one up resulted in a window telling me to uninstall or repair them through Programs and Features. I decided to do the uninstall part. It told me to reboot in order to clean up some stuff when I will have a moment or two, and I have a lot of time, so I rebooted my machine. The apps are left and working, but I have no way to uninstall them. WTF?! So I go to System Restore and go back in time by two days. Yes, two days, not two minutes. This little idiot did not create a restore point, and the one I have belongs to Windows Backup. It looks like Microsoft is trying to get rid of this feature. Although it works much better than their fancy reset/refresh stuff. No traces of Office are visible. Great.
Installation attempts #2 and #3¶
Before I try to install it the second time, I quit all the apps except WordPad (which currently holds this text) and create a new restore point.
I try again. And it looks like some stuff is still here. Removed and created another restore point. Another attempt.
And I get the installer again. The orange always-on-top window, check. First installer window, check. On top of it, there is a window with a progress bar. And it uses Windows Classic controls. No, I won’t love the new Office. By the way, what is this thing’s name? Office 365, Office 2013 or Office 15? The first version is used by the Microsoft website, the second is used by the Start Menu links, and the third one is used throughout the installer. Oh: and the window employs fake Windows 8 controls. Not only that, but it has the Metro- style look, known from Zune for Windows or GitHub for Windows (shame on you, GitHub!). Well, it worked, so let’s take a closer look at Office itself. The installer told me to take a look at an introduction about new stuff in Office. It fires up a PowerPoint presentation with four slides (sans a notification telling me to run a slideshow, which isn’t displayed in the actual slideshow). It looks like this version of office has two new features: abilities to make Office my own and access [files] anywhere. That doesn’t look like a lot of new features, does it? Another thing is that the presentation is in a 16:9 aspect ratio.
Anyways, I let the install finish and we’ll start the full review in just a moment (and the install takes a longer moment). When it was done, it told me that I could go offline or shut down. That isn’t a piece of useful advice in my opinion.
I fired up Word. It asked about file type associations. I’m going to let it go with all of them. I take the tour, and it shows me some new features (I also showcased the Read Mode, mentioned by it). That button left of the minimization button is the Full Screen button. Let’s go to a real document and see what it can do.
The “real” document is this blog post. I can notice some weird behavior while typing, the cursor slides from letter to letter in a weird fashion. I can also notice that the “typing” icon in the status bar is broken. For some reason, it displays itself and half of the second frame of the animation. An attempt to click on the icon got me to a spellcheck. The “spellcheck complete” window showcases the new style of text, telling me that I’m good to go.
I also noticed that .doc files use an icon similar to the one used by Word before version 2003. It isn’t pretty.
Office 15 in general¶
I used only two apps (and one just for ten seconds), but I can already notice the bad and good patterns in the interface of Office 15. Here they are:
1. Metro style everywhere, making it drop integration with everything else in the system. The new icon style isn’t pretty. 2. Love for sidebars. And you can have two at the same side when there it feels like it. 3. » (guillemet) is used instead of (backslash) in paths. Not a great idea. 4. Nobody seems to know what version of Office it is. 5. It loves to scream. The Ribbon and the status bar have text in all-caps. It’s harder to read.
Anyways, back to testing.
Excel is a very useful app. Right away, I go to the tour. Flash Fill. Seems to be nice, but here’s a catch: if you type out the whole name, it goes away and you are forced to undo it or do it in the next row (deleting the contents and typing Andrew again doesn’t work). Quick Analysis. Pretty. Recommended charts. Useless. Then, I get some useless facts about Excel. Once again, animated behavior, this time for selecting stuff AND when value changes due to formulas. Waste of time.
I tested the last two with a document. They failed. Miserably. The document is a list of games I intend to buy soon. Item, Price in €, Price in PLN (converted), Importance (1-10), Source. Easy. Not for Excel. The first tab (formatting) gives the red color for the lower values. And my list needs the reverse: lower prices are better for me and have more chances of being bought soon, and the most important games are marked with 1, not 10. It isn’t customizable. And the charts were even worse. I have absolutely no idea what they were supposed to mean.
Up next, PowerPoint. First thing I notice is that presentations are in a 16:9 ratio now. Tour is useless. Fancy effects for text input. Stuff is also fading in on the slides panel on the left side. Do not like. And I just passed 100 screenshots and 1100 words of the post. And we aren’t even halfway through. Also, why doesn’t this idiot save locations of opening and saving between programs? It would really help me. Anyways, after saving my test presentation as .ppt, .pptx, .pdf and .odp (I am doing it with every of those documents you’re seeing here), we continue with another application from the Office suite.
It connects to a cloud. So bad my Android phone doesn’t support OneNote (Gingerbread required, my phone is at Froyo and won’t get an update). I think that OneNote is a very useful app. It is powerful. And the clipping tool uses the new Windows logo. Windows 8 users have no problem, same goes for Windows 7 people who know about the change, but what about the rest of this universe (most of it, actually)? Other than that, I love OneNote.
Desktop mail clients… I haven’t used one since a long time (if you don’t count the Mail app from Windows 8, which isn’t a desktop app). Anyways, it tells me that it’s my personal assistant, helping me manage my life. Good joke. It doesn’t have the features a personal assistant of yours truly would need. Nobody has such features, so I am currently developing one to work with me. And the next screens are the standard “new account creation” screens, which haven’t changed since the beginning of time. Oh wait, they did: fancy new dots are a progress indicator now. Why did it change the color? Before Office 2003, it was olive. Then, it was a bit closer to yellow. And now it became light blue. You’re breaking a very important thing. Many people can distinguish Outlook just by the color. And Outlook is the most popular Office app in businesses.
Mail. It starts a send/receive operation (0.4 GB, 9663 messages). It takes a longer moment, so I go to YouTube and watch Kikoskia’s new LP, The Legend of Kyrandia: Book One. When it finished, the icon in the Superbar changed. A good idea. I immediately search for a GOG.com newsletter (it’s a tradition) and make a screenshot. And I found an option to enable the conversation view, which is mandatory for mail reading for me (this is why I’m using Gmail all the time).
Calendar. A regular calendar, but doesn’t sync with Gmail nor Windows Live. A very bad idea.
People. Doesn’t sync, and still uses the Bill Gates mug shot as a default avatar.
Tasks. Oddly enough, hovering on the icon displays my starred messages from Gmail. No sync. Not worth it.
There are also Notes, Folders and Shortcuts, but I won’t show them.
Access. The weird database manager. The first template is Custom web app. I try, but it doesn’t seem to work. So I create a new desktop database, and I learn that it now creates .accdb files. It does so since version 2007, but I haven’t used Access since version 2003. The suggested filename is My New App.accdb. Access has changed since the last time I was here. The standard window with all the objects is now a sidebar. It is no longer using the window-based style. But I managed to work with the new style.
Use something else. Seriously. Publisher sucks. I suggest LaTeX. Anyways, the tour is downloaded from the Internet this time. And it showcases some neat features here. It also supports typographical features. And I like that.
A touch mode exists in this version of Office. You activate it by the Quick Access toolbar (top-left part of the title bar.) It makes everything bigger so you can hit it with your finger.
This piece of software is not a thing I like. I hate fake Metro. It isn’t pretty. To comply with the tradition of my reviews, ratings and galleries were made. Another new thing are the examples, which are the documents used in this review.Office 2013 GalleryOffice 2013 FilesOffice 2013 Videos
The files are as follows:
|word||Word||The review, formatted for Word.|
|Excel-2||Excel||Sample “games to buy” document.|
|excel-2||PowerPoint||“Why Office 15 sucks” presentation.|
|publisher||Publisher||A sample document, showcasing Gabriola.|
Files are available in PDF, old Office, new office (.*x) format and OpenDocument formats, where available.
|Office 15||3||Metro is already bad, fake Metro is even worse.|
|Excel||8||The Quick Analysis mode fails sometimes.|
|PowerPoint||5||Don’t like several features.|
|OneNote||10||A brilliant app.|
|Outlook||6||I do not like offline mail clients.|
|Access||4||A lot of changes since 2003.|
|Publisher||3||Not the best app for doing such stuff.|
|Average||6.125||A fair rating.|
This post was brought to you by Word 2013 and SkyDrive.