It feels like we've been talking about Office 2013 for a while now -- we first previewed the software back in July, and it's been available as a free beta download ever since. Unless you plan to run Office on five or so computers, it might make more sense to purchase Office 2013 instead of paying for an annual subscription.
Getting started Though Office 2013 and Office 365 will both be available to purchase in stores, you won't actually find an installation CD in the box. O seu acesso imediato a jogos grA?tis, filmes e descontos exclusivos sA? com Xbox Live Gold. Today, though, it's launching in a more formal way: the final version of Office 2013 is now on sale, as is Office 365 Home Premium, which lets you purchase a subscription to Office 2013 and then install it on up to five computers.
Even if you buy it from a brick-and-mortar kind of place, you'll only really see a written product key when you tear open the packaging.
Though you can still buy the software outright, Microsoft has gone out of its way to make subscribing seem like the more attractive option: buying a one-year subscription costs $100 a year and nets you five installs, while the purchase cost is $139 for a single user.
To sweeten the deal, Microsoft is giving Office 365 subscribers 60 Skype minutes per month and 20GB of extra SkyDrive storage. Naturally, too, subscribing to the service means you always get the latest software -- a particularly important point for Apple fans still waiting on a new version of Office for Mac.
Either way, though, Office 2013 now has an app store, and you can poke around even if you're not a subscriber. All told, it's not unlike how Windows 8 loads a primer on new gestures while the OS readies itself for the first time. Naturally, once they're fully installed the various Office apps appear as Live Tiles on the Start Screen, not as desktop shortcuts. Once you've installed Office, you can sign in to your Microsoft account (or not -- in which case it's just a local copy). In all, there are 14 of these themes, though there's also a "no background option" for people who find doodles of circles and circuits offensive.


Not that we're pressuring you or anything, but they're really very subtle: they only take up a small patch of space on the fringe of the screen, and don't actually call much attention to themselves.
Office 2013 As crazy as this might sound, we don't plan on dwelling too much on the actual Office suite, just because we already wrote thousands of words on the subject back when it was first released. For a full run-down of the new features (plus dozens of screenshots), we'll direct you back to our preview, first published six months ago. Notable new features in the suite include PDF editing in Word, a full-screen Reading Mode (great for tablets) and a behind-the-scenes Presenter View in PowerPoint.
Touch Mode is exactly what it sounds like, which is to say it makes all the UI elements a little bigger and more touch-friendly -- not that it magically makes Excel convenient to use without a keyboard, per se. Resume Reading remembers exactly where you were in a document the last time you opened it, which is useful if you've been charged with editing a 40-page patent infringement brief or something equally tedious. And that's a good thing: even when the software was still in development we found it to be fast and stable, while the features themselves were intuitive to use.
The only point of controversy might be the carryover of the Ribbon UI, which debuted all the way back in Office 2007, and which some people still haven't warmed up to. The icon for switching to Touch Mode has changed, and when you tap it you now get a pop-up menu that briefly explains the difference between that and mouse mode (the gist being that in Touch Mode there's no Ribbon menu, and the various UI elements are spaced farther apart). There's also a rotating group of templates, which vary depending on region and also the time of year.
For instance, you won't see any Valentine's Day-related options in August, and you also won't see any sample Fourth of July party invites if you live outside the US.
We're not sure how many people actually use templates to begin with, but if you do, knock yourself out.
PowerPoint, meanwhile, has gotten a new transitions category called "Exciting," which includes some new animations. As you might have guessed, they're flashy transitions, sequences with names like "Curtains," "Origami" and "Paper Airplane" (they all are exactly what they sound like).


They're playful and call lots of attention to themselves, which is to say they probably won't be especially welcome at a board meeting.
But just like with the templates, we're glad they're there for people who require a few more resources to truly express themselves.
Office Store Now that Microsoft has dragged Office kicking and screaming into the cloud-computing era, it's doing something else to bring the software up to date: it's giving the suite its very own app store. So far, the store includes apps for Word, Excel, Outlook, Project and SharePoint (but not PowerPoint, strangely). If you like, you can sort apps by any of the above programs, which is how we prefer to go about it. Similar to the Windows Store, you can read user reviews and click through to see detailed system requirements. Installing an app is as easy as hitting an "Add" button, though you'll need to go through an extra step to make sure it appears in the Ribbon of whatever Office application uses the add-on.
What's interesting about browsing the store is that because no one really expected or asked for Office applications, it doesn't matter so much how many there are, or whether you've heard of any of them. We also found some other apps we could see ourselves using, like Bing News for Word and "Random Generator" for Excel.
Most of these are free, which creates a nice incentive for downloading a bunch and seeing what sticks. If you're a developer reading this, Microsoft takes a 20 percent cut from application purchases, which matches the revenue split already in place for Windows applications.



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