Windows 8 is out and if you bought a Windows RT tablet, you’ll have early access to Office 2013. For the rest of us, Office 2013 will be released sometime early 2013 but is it worth the upgrade if you already have Office 2010?
Of course many users will want to stay with their current Microsoft Office version to avoid re-learning how to do things but Office 2013 may just have enough compelling new features to convince them to upgrade.
What exactly has changed in PowerPoint 2013? If you make a lot of presentations with PowerPoint, I think the new features and level of polish that Microsoft has put into this product will be enough to make you want to upgrade.
Here’s my in-depth look at the new features of PowerPoint 2013.
Useful welcome screen
In Office 2010, the welcome screen for PowerPoint wasn’t really useful. The first thing I did after getting Office 2010 was to disable that screen as it didn’t help speed up my workflow. In Office 2013, the welcome screen has been redesigned to be useful. You can choose the style of presentation you want and PowerPoint will give you variations on that theme. There is also a handy search at the top of the screen for you to browse themes and categories to download.
Cloud saving and sharing
The cloud is a big part of Office 2013. To combat Google Drive, Microsoft is focusing its Office product to be cloud friendly. You can save all your files to your SkyDrive as well as settings, preferences, and templates so you can pick up where you left off from any device.
Once you have something saved to your SkyDrive, you can then share it with your friends or coworkers to collaborate on a single document or presentation. This is a very welcomed feature as Google Drive offered a great platform for document collaboration.
Inserting video and photos from the cloud
PowerPoint 2013 no longer limits users to inserting media only from a local drive. When there is a section for adding photos or videos, users are given an option to import media from different sources such as Flickr, Facebook, and YouTube. This makes getting images much more quickly, without having to download and insert them manually.
Alternatively, users can use the search box to look up photos that are protected by Creative Commons. This is a smart move and will prevent users from using copyrighted images.
Presentation view is one of the slickest upgrades for PowerPoint 2013. If you have a computer hooked up to multiple monitors, your secondary screen will act as a prompter for you. The interface fades to black and you are given previews of your slides as well as a timer so you can properly pace your presentation.
Full screen support
All applications in Office 2013 now support full screen mode to help users better focus. The taskbar will remain at the bottom but the ribbon interface will be hidden until you hover your mouse at the top. This makes it easier to work on presentations, especially on a screen with limited real estate.
PowerPoint web app
With such a focus on the cloud, it’s no surprise that Microsoft has created a PowerPoint web app to work in conjunction with its desktop app. This means you can view and edit any documents you have in your SkyDrive. Unfortunately the web app is very basic and doesn’t offer nearly as many features or the ease of use that the desktop version offers. It’s decent for making quick edits but don’t expect to put together an entire presentation from the web app.
Office 2013 and PowerPoint 2013 are definitely evolutionary. Still, many of these features improve the user experience of PowerPoint and offer a compelling upgrade for Office 2010 users. The product is still in beta so there are bugs to be worked out but it is stable enough that you can use the beta of Office 2013 as your main office suite.
You can download the preview of Office 2013 here.