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Friday, March 1, 2013

MS Office 2013


What’s New In Microsoft Outlook 2013? [Review]


Microsoft recently announced the next version of Office suite – Office 2013 (codenamed Office 15). Steve Ballmer, the current CEO of the Redmond giant, unveiled Microsoft Office 2013 Consumer Preview, in San Francisco, but as of now, Microsoft is calling the new version as Office 365 Consumer Preview, and has made it available as Home, Small Business and Enterprise editions. This is the first time in history that the Office suite is designed by keeping desktop and touchscreen devices in mind, particularly when Windows 8 is just months away from its GA launch. One of the most powerful and frequently used applications in Office, is the Outlook. Outlook 2013, akin to other programs in the suite, has received much love from the developers, and now looks more polished and elegant. Basically, it’s the same old Outlook with an improved functionality, aesthetics and ergonomics. We decided to do a brief overview of the new Office Suite, and an in-depth review of the new features, changes and enhancements that are made to MS Outlook.

Microsoft-Office-Outlook-2013-Preview

Overview Of Microsoft Office 2013

One of the biggest changes Microsoft brought to the table is native SkyDrive and SharePoint Integration, which is quite helpful to instantly access, share and collaborate with your team memberson important tasks, from remote locations. The productivity suite now has full touch screen support, which was quite imminent, especially when Windows 8 is not far from launch and Microsoft itself is entering the tablet market with their Surface tablet. The Redmond giant has also made subtle UI changes to make Office more Windows 8 friendly, a lucrative step to move people closer to their next OS.

Meet The New Outlook

Since the article mainly focuses on finding new features in Outlook 2013, let’s take a look at the most significant improvements and new features that Outlook 2013 has to offer.

Fascinating New User Interface

Microsoft has always focused to employ simple user interface design in its office suite, but the new Outlook looks even more simple yet lavishly elegant. There are no fancy colors here and there, and the whole interface is carved out of the white background from top to bottom, the only exception being the status bar, which is in blue color. Menus flip more fluidly and are more dynamic, and navigation bar looks sleeker, as some of the items are moved to bottom lane.

A New Feel To Backstage View

Backstage is the area where all your Account Information is displayed. Here, you can manage your accounts from a single window. Well, it’s not completely built from the ground up, Backstage view now has a blue bar at the left side. There is also an encircled Back button button at the top left that takes you back to the landing page. The navigation tabs are also rearranged. The Info tab is now placed at the very top, with Open & Export, Save As, Save Attachments and Print tabs right below it. The rest of the tabs’ positions are not changed.

Quickly Switch Between Outlook Main Elements

As you may know that Outlook offers management features for Mail as well as Contacts, Calendar and Tasks. Most users are more inclined towards the trio, that is, Mail, Calendar and People, and Outlook 2013 doesn’t disappoint them in any department. In Outlook 2010, the navigation buttons were all aligned in the main navigation bar. In Office 2013 however, the navigation buttons are now placed horizontally, right above the Status bar. Talking about Status bar, it now looks more fascinating and vivid, making it perfectly blend with the overall color scheme. The new placement of the navigation controls is a welcome change, since it’s become easier to navigate between Outlook windows. Moreover, when switching between the tabs, the transition animation is quite fluid, and looks amazing with that subtle fade in and fade out effect.
Outlook 2013_Navigation Controls

Weather Bar

It’s advisable to know your local weather condition before scheduling the meetings. Outlook 2013 offers a new Weather Bar in the Calendar that provides real-time weather forecasts, so you may plan your meetings and appointments accordingly. It provides a three day forecast by default, and hovering the mouse pointer over each forecast gives you  further details such as Wind condition, Humidity level and Precipitation. Another noticeable feature is that you can add multiple locations to keep an eye on the weather of the frequently visited cities; simply click the miniscule arrow button next to your current location, it will list down all the locations that you ever added. From within this list, you can click Add new locations to add as many different locations as you want.
weather bar

Miniscule Peek Windows For Calendar, People &Tasks

Outlook also shows Peek windows when you hover the mouse pointer over the Calendar, People and Tasks. While Mail doesn’t provide any Peek, the rest of the Outlook components do allow you to search the items, view today’s events etc. For instance, you can hover the mouse pointer over the Calendar to quickly find out about your today’s schedule, such as events and meetings. Likewise, People tab also has this option, and lets you easily search for a particular contact from within this small window. It must be noted that you can Pin these Peeks to the right edge of the application window; clicking the small Pin button at the top right instantly pins the item.

Mail Simply Looks More Elegant

It seems as if Microsoft went back to the drawing board and made the Mail section much more fluid. It now supports a quick way to mark your email messages as read without opening them. All the unread messages are now marked by a thin blue line to the left, and hovering the mouse pointer over the line broadens it up, clicking it marks the mail as read. Furthermore, the Inbox feels more attractive to work with — the read mails are highlighted with bold blue text and are easy to sort out. In preceding version, the email folders and main elements (Mail, Calendar, People, Task), were all placed in main navigation bar, but since the main elements of Outlook are placed horizontally now, it provides a clear view of each section. Moreover, the message list pane feels more dynamic, as resizing it changes the way it looks and behaves accordingly. Another noteworthy addition is that, should you save the email as Draft, the Draft word is highlighted with red color, and appears next to your message.

Insert Online Picture

Another major addition we found is inserting Online Pictures from within the message body. Should you need to send a reference picture attachment and simply couldn’t find in your local archive, you can use the Bing image search. To search images, click Online Picture button on the toolbar to open a small window and enter search keywords. You can search it in Office.com Clip Art, Bing or you SkyDrive account. It also supports downloading images from Flickr.
Outlook 2013_Online Pictures

People Card

Another noteworthy addition is the People Card, which works as a one-stop-shop for all contact details. This card shows your contact’s social happenings. It contains the person’s name, contact details, company information, IM etc. Furthermore, you can quickly schedule a meeting with your contact from within the People Card.
this pic taken from net

SharePoint Integration

Outlook 2013 now has better SharePoint integration, as SharePoint groups can now enjoy their separate mailboxes. All the document files you have stored in SharePoint can be viewed easily from within the Outlook.

Exchange ActiveSync Support

The application now lets you connect Outlook with Exchange ActiveSync, which gives push notifications of your emails akin to that of your regular Hotmail or Gmail account. Previously, ActiveSync wasn’t possible.

 

Verdict

Overall, Outlook 2013 now looks more polished, although with not many new feature-sets, the changes brought to the table are quite major. Features like People Card, Navigation Bar, Social Connectors etc., seem to have already won the show. Even in its Consumer Preview, the application runs without any issues, whatsoever. However unlike other Office 2013 suite applications, Outlook 2013 doesn’t work if the previous version of Outlook is running in the background.

What’s New In Microsoft PowerPoint 2013? [Review]


With the release of Windows 8 GA on the horizon, Microsoft has unveiled the next version of their second biggest product, the Microsoft Office 2013. Right now, it is only the Consumer Preview, however, it provides ample basis for users to form an idea about what the final version will bring to the computing world. Graced with the same Metro style UI of Windows 8, the design and functionality of Microsoft Office 2013 has been streamlined to work with both PC’s and Tablet devices. Even though, at first glance it appears to be a lot different than its predecessor, it is essentially the same product, with a few tweaks and enhancements added here and there. The main focus has been on improving document sharing using the SkyDrive cloud service, and using it to access and edit them from remote locations. In this article, we will look at the enhancements of the old features and addition of new ones in the Microsoft PowerPoint 2013.
Microsoft-Office-Powerpoint-2013-Preview
While the old features are enhanced, including refined animations, a better Presenter View, and an improved commenting system, new features, such as, Alignment guides, Ability to merge shapes and Widescreen templates with different color choices, are now a part of Microsoft PowerPoint 2013.

Revamped Landing Page

The landing page of PowerPoint 2013 has received the much needed facelift. The landing page of the previous version, Microsoft Office 2010, looked very bland and even confusing to some users. In the newer version, the landing page has been revamped to provide users with quick access to locally available templates, as well as the online database. The online templates are divided into several categories such as Business, Industry, Small Business, Presentation, Orientation, Design Sets, 4:3, Media, Nature, Marketing etc. While new presentations can be created from the main window, the left sidebar shows all the recently accessed presentations.
Microsoft PowerPoint Preview

Color Themes For Templates

The templates can be used with different color themes. For instance, if the theme comes with a light color scheme, and you want to use darker colors, just click the template and all the available color schemes will be displayed. You can select the required one to use in your presentation. Just like the previous versions, you can also manually change the color and style of elements in a template.
Microsoft PowerPoint Preview 2

Enhanced Presenter View

The Presenter View in PowerPoint 2013 displays the Active slide on the left side, the Next slide at the top right, while the Notes for the current slide are displayed in the bottom right corner. A timer appears above the preview of the current slide, and extra controls are available at the top and bottom of the Presenter View window.
Even though, Presenter View was also available in the previous versions of Microsoft PowerPoint, it was not activated by default. Users had to navigate to the Slide Show tab, and enable Presenter View in order to display it on secondary display screen. For this reason, a lot of people were not aware of its existence in the previous PowerPoint versions. Microsoft seemed to realize this in the latest release, and has enabled it by default. Now, whenever you run the slide show, the Presenter View will be displayed, if there are multiple display devices connected to the computer. Some changes have also been made to the console. Now you have an extra Laser Pointer Pen Tool, option to zoom parts of a slide, see all slides at a time, and ability to switch Slide show and Presenter Views between the connected display monitors.
PowerPoint 2013 - Presenter View

Account Management

The Account Management window allows you to connect to your SkyDrive account, and add services to use with PowerPoint. Sign in to your Microsoft Account, and it will automatically connect to your SkyDrive account. You can use the same account to sign in to Microsoft Office 2013 on different devices. This way, all your saved documents will be synced to the cloud and will be available for viewing and editing from any device. This eliminates the need to carry your documents in removable storage drives. Using the SkyDrive account, you can easily share your presentations and invite others to collaborate on required presentation projects.
Welcome to PowerPoint.pptx - Microsoft PowerPoint Preview

Share Documents To View & Edit In The Browser

The Share option offers a number of ways to share the document with others. You can Invite people by specifying their Email addresses, Send them a link to View and Edit the document, Post the document to Social networks, Email it to others as an attachment (PPTX), as a URL, as PDF, as XPS, or as internet Fax,Present it Online so that others can check out your presentation from their browsers, and Publish Slides to any Library or a SharePoint site. The person on the receiving end does not need to have Microsoft Office installed on his/her system in order to view or edit the document. If they have a Windows Live ID, everything can be performed from inside the browser.
Welcome to PowerPoint.pptx - Microsoft PowerPoint Preview - Share

Widescreen & Fullscreen Support

PowerPoint 2013 offers a slew of Widescreen templates and themes. The previous version also allowed you to switch to widescreen mode, however, you had to manually change the aspect ratio of the slide, which also changed the size of the slide elements. The new version of PowerPoint has built in support for Widescreen monitors. Moreover, there is also a new full screen mode available for editing. It allows you to view your slides, and edit them while consuming the available screen space. The Ribbon, containing all the editing options, can be activated and deactivated from a conveniently placed button at the top right corner.
Presentation5 - Microsoft PowerPoint Preview - Full Screen

UI Changes & Pane View

There are various UI related changes in PowerPoint 2013. First of all, everything feels smoother, from the movement of the cursor when you type, to the way animations appear in your presentation. Microsoft has also tried to improve the look and feel of the interface. There are now buttons available on the main interface to switch to the aforementioned Fullscreen View, and to access Notes and Comments.
Another welcome change to the UI is that a lot of options, which used to appear in separate dialog boxes, are now accessible through panes, appearing on the right side. For instance, in PowerPoint 2010, if you right-click a slide and select Format Background, a separate dialog box opens up. You can make changes to a slide, but the dialog box covers the slide, and you have to move it manually in order to view all the slide elements. Moreover, when you select Format Background option, instead of opening a separate dialog box, a pane is added to the right side. Anything that you change using from the pane is reflected on the slide in real time. It means that you don’t have to open and close the dialog box again and again to view the changes. Just like other Office 2013 suite applications, it includes an Online pictures option to let you quickly add background to the slide from your favorite online image resource; you can choose an image from the Office.com Clip Art Library, the Bing Image Search, or from your own SkyDrive and Flickr account.
Welcome to PowerPoint - New Panes

Alignment Guides, Merge Shapes & Auto-Text Wrapping

A new feature, included in PowerPoint 2013, as well as Word 2013, is the Alignment Guides. It allows you to easily align objects and text in a slide, relative to each other. You can use the object alignment option to merge different shapes with each other. For instance, If you want to merge together two shapes, the alignment guides help you in quickly adjusting them together according to top, down, left and right margins. Another very useful, and much needed, feature added to PowerPoint 2013 is auto-text wrapping. When an image is added to a slide with text in it, the text automatically readjusts itself around the image so that there is no overlapping of any kind.
Welcome to PowerPoint - Alignment

Insert Online Video, Image And Audio

PowerPoint 2013 now allows you to add videos, images and audio files directly from the internet, without first downloading them to your PC. Think of it as the object being embedded in your presentation. The previous version of PowerPoint also had the option to add videos from the web, however you had to copy the embed code of required video and paste it into PowerPoint. The latest version allows you to Insert an online video in your presentation using the integrated Bing Video Search, SkyDrive Account, YouTube, or From a Video Embed Code. For instance, to add a YouTube video, just search for it, select the required one from the search results and click OK to embed it into your presentation.
Insert Video
The image results are, by default, set to show the images that are licensed under Create Commons, so it eliminates the chance of copyright violation when you use an online image in your presentation. You can also choose to view all the web results for your search.
Insert Picture

Export Presentation As WMV & MPEG-4 Video

PowerPoint 2010 also lets you save the presentation as a video, but only in WMV format. In PowerPoint 2013, another format, MPEG-4 is added to save converted presentation in video format. Due to the addition of MPEG-4 format, the presentation video can directly played on a lot of media players and devices. Now, users don’t require Windows Media CODEC installed on non-Windows devices to watch the presentation. Also, portable devices, as well as a lot of LCD/ LED TVs have built in support to play MPEG-4 format. Just go to Export, and select Create a Video. All the other options, including the Resolution, and whether to use recorded timings and narrations are available with the MPEG-4 format.
Welcome to PowerPoint.pptx - Microsoft PowerPoint Preview - Export Video

Verdict

After all the newly introduced and enhanced features added to PowerPoint 2013, it seems that Microsoft has worked really hard to improve the functionality and availability of everything the program has to offer. Features that were previously almost hidden, are now made more obvious for the new user. Due to its versatile interface, with several dialog boxes changed into panes within the main window, PowerPoint 2013 is definitely a good presentation utility to use on both PCs, as well as tablets.

What’s New In Microsoft Word 2013? [Review]


With the recent launch of Office 15 at a media event, new trends have surely been set. The flurry of Windows 8, its metro user interface and a clean and resourceful look has brought in criticism from around the world, but the overall balance is being seen in Microsoft’s favor, as it embarks upon technology integration, cloud-connectivity, and modern, touch-friendly outlook. In what follows, we will inform you exactly where Microsoft Word 2013 from the Office 15 Suite aims to reform your experience with documents. It is surely time to embrace text-flow, PDFs, collaborations, and the world wide web through a resourceful Office App Library for the better. A cleaner discussion thread and Microsoft SkyDrive integration promise a unique experience for the novice as well as advanced users.
Microsoft-Office-Word-2013-Preview
The overall Office experience has been revamped with a new logo, faster loading time and a landing page enhanced with user friendly themes and templates. To access features like document sharing and remote access, you are required to create a Microsoft Office account online, as it will be used as a default account for sharing and accessing documents from remote locations.

Integrated Account Management & Connected Services

The landing page provides you with a sleek interface organized into three sections: the navigation sidebar, account information and product information. The navigation bar allows you to access essential word processing functionalities including sharing, exporting and return buttons. The overall Word interface is highly responsive obeying the click, instantly. As illustrated below, Word 2013 comes with a customizable themes (that can be selected from the Office Background dropdown menu boasting multiple attractive themes). Moreover, understanding the power of social media and its penetration in generating viral content, Microsoft has decided to ride the wave by offering Connected Services that virtually allows you to access documents from any device on the go. Just use your Microsoft or SkyDrive account or connect using Youtube. Still not satisfied with the feature? Why not Add a service and connect your work to your favorite online hot spots. The Product Information on the left allows you toManage account or analyze the overall subscription of the Office Suite with update details.
Microsoft Word Account Preview
When adding a new service, Word 2013 allows you to link your existing Microsoft account with another online service like LinkedIn. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, just click the Join Now button on the top right corner to create one. You can specify the access duration and upon approving the link, the new service will get connected to Word, successfully.
Word 2013 Connected Services

Object Placement Beyond The Right Click

In all previous versions, placement options relevant to objects like pictures, figures, etc. were accessible from the right-click menu. You may have used the Wrap Text feature, placement and adjustment with text, re-sizing and rotation utilities. In Word 2013, a simple click reveals all relevant functionality with the layout options floating on the right, while re-sizing buttons on and around the object. Options can be easily expanded by clicking See more. Double click on the picture to zoom for a better view of the target. With live layout and alignment guides, you can drag your image wherever you want with the text adapting in real-time, accordingly.
Word Picture Placement

Enhanced Templates Directory

A comprehensive template directory comes to view upon clicking New. It is advisable to load theWelcome to Word document for a quick tour of Word 2013. A large number of useful and popular templates are organized in the New tab as user-friendly tiles. Moreover, the search bar allows you to browse, view and select from hundreds of online templates in the Office Library.  Suggested searches enhance the searching experience by highlighting frequently used categories.
Word 2013 Landing

Office Apps: Redefining Creativity

Office Apps are a new way of adding creative and useful applications to Microsoft Office 2013 suite. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary and eFax app for Word 2013 are useful ways of increasing productivity while creating and managing documents. Moreover, there are loads of free featured apps and a huge collection in the Office Store awaiting your click. You can manage your apps and refresh to keep track of any updates.

 Insert Pictures From The Web, Instantly

The Insert tab on the ribbon reveals some new and useful additions. One such feature is the option to insert online pictures. Microsoft has updated its Royalty Free Photos and Illustrations directory that can be accessed using the search bar in the Insert Pictures window. You can also browse your online SkyDrive storage for clipart stored in the cloud. Too often do we use our Image Search to identify relevant photos in the web browser to paste into Microsoft Word. Now, you can use the Bing Image Search and Flickr account to hunt and insert online pictures for good from within Word 2013.
Insert Online Pictures

Insert Online Videos And Interactive Content Easily

In an attempt to promote dynamic content in documents, Word 2013 presents to you the option to add online videos may it be from social media sites like Youtube, search engines like Bing Video search or videos from any other website (using embed code). To insert a video successfully, type a keyword in the relevant search bar to view results.
Word 2013 displays all results, mentioning the total number of links. Just click the result to preview the video before actually inserting it into the document. Similarly, multiple video results can be added by selecting, previewing and inserting, accordingly. Text Reflow allows you to fit the interactive content in the most appropriate manner.

Simplified Markup View For Better Collaborations

Working with text had never been so interactive. Online Pictures and Videos already added color and dynamic content to the Word document ensuring fast track follow up on relevant topics. Now, with a simplified markup view meant to highlight changes in your document in a neat, effective manner encourages you to focus on collaborating work. The left sidebar indicates changes while a small cloud on the right indicates comments at the respective places. With Word 2013, you can instantly reply to comments in an organized manner to give rise to useful discussion threads. With Microsoft SkyDrive and SharePoint, working on projects and documents online as a collaborated effort could have never been simpler. These markers and comment threads allow you to highlight necessary details, corrections and pointers for the rest of your team to keep in mind. Similarly, keeping track of the activity around your workspace has thus, been made possible.
Word 2013 guide - Commenting feature

Say Goodbye To PDF Readers & Editors

All of us use PDF documents, but we often rely on third party tools to extract pictures or specific pages from the overall structure. Using Word 2013, you can easily open a PDF file like any other Word Document. Editing text, tables or lists, re-sizing pictures, adding, removing and highlighting information are all possible as well.
By default, when you open PDF file in Word 2013, it shows you the protected view, preventing your system from getting infected by virus-injected PDF documents. However, you can click Enable Editing to open your PDF document in Word 2013 editor, and edit not only text, but also tables, images, marginsand other elements.

Concentrate, In The Improved Reading Mode

Special focus has been directed at improving the Reading Mode in a manner that all relevant utilities like the toolbar, ribbon, and scrollbar disappear from view unless they are needed. This cleans the interface, allowing the user to fully concentrate on reading. Double click on any picture and it will zoom to view, fading out everything else. To activate Reading mode, click the relevant option in the View tab and enjoy the experience.

Understand The Impact, Definitely

The Review tab has a new Define feature that presents definitions of words and phrases, instantly using the relevant Word Apps like the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Results and displayed on the right sidebar as soon as you select the text. Say goodbye to right-click menu and dictionary access when your results are displayed at a single click. Now, you can truly understand the impact of your content.
Word 2013 guide - Define feature

Verdict

It is always beneficial to look at new features objectively. Microsoft Word 2013 has indeed come with new tidings for progress in the area of word processing. You are now in a position to present documents online to people who do not have the latest version of Microsoft Office, how? This can now be achieved using the cloud-based storage and synchronization of documents for access, wherever needed. Just provide your team members with the respective link that can be pasted in browsers for viewing. Thus, with a modern, polished and internet-friendly Word 2013, the new life spells out productivity for us all.

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