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News 07-17-12 01:50 AM

Office 2013: Microsoft's bid to win the future
http://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-conten...ch-640x360.png The opening splash for Microsoft's streaming install for Office 2013 is confident you'll love it.

Microsoft Office is the Tonto to Windows' Lone Ranger'it gets beat up and disparaged by the townsfolk, but in the end it saves Windows' bacon over and over. While Windows releases are shiny, hype-inflated events, Office does the dirty work of getting users comfortable with each new generation of user interface changes. Office provides the features that gradually convince OS holdouts to move on (well, at least as soon as Service Pack 2 ships).

That role is especially heightened for Office 2013, the next version of Office being unveiled today at an event in San Francisco (where CEO Steve Ballmer said, "We feel a lot like it's 1995." You can interpret for yourself now that the preview is live, available at office.com/preview). Ars got an advance preview of the vastness of Office 2013; Peter Bright and I have spent the last week mapping its previously unknown territory. Some areas of the suite remain Terra Incognita, mostly because Microsoft didn't have everything quite ready for the press to look at in advance of the super-top-secret unveiling, but the suite's basic outlines are now clear.

Some applications have gotten a fresh coat of paint and not much in the way ofnew functionality. That's subject to change;Lync and OneNote, for example, are far from the final form they'll take when they ship.Other programs have received a raft of feature tweaks andincremental innovations that make themsignificant enough improvements to warrant an upgrade. But we foundthat the most dramatic changeswere not in any application-specific feature, but in the structure and packaging of the whole. Microsoft has tightly bound cloud, Internet services, and social networking to the Office platform.

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