Last week a free preview version of Office 2013 was released for Windows 7 and Windows 8 Preview. We decided to install it on our Windows 8 Release Preview release equipped HP TouchSmart TM2 Tablet and take it for a spin. The coolest part of Office 2013 is the new OneNote MX which is a Metro-style version of OneNote that is fully compatible with the new Windows 8 interface. It doesn’t have all of the features of the desktop version of OneNote, but it is certainly more feature-rich than the iOS, Android, and Windows Phone versions of OneNote. You can finally view all types of content created in the desktop version of OneNote unlike other mobile versions. You can also rearrange pages and sections and notebooks, but features like extracting text from images, converting handwriting to text, and recording video/audio while taking notes are still missing. For those you’ll have to launch the desktop version of OneNote 2013. However, OneNote MX also includes an excellent new interface design where controls appear in a radial menu accessible by a single button. Tapping the button to access the commands is fine and all, but if you already know which direction the command you want is hidden under, then all you have to do is tap and slide the button to activate that command. So for example if you want to undo something, just touch the radial menu button and slide to the left to activate the command without even having to open the menu. It’s a very innovative way to access shortcuts on a touch screen.
All of the other Office 2013 apps are launched in the classic desktop mode where they are unfortunately much less touch-friendly than OneNote MX. In fact, the new full-screen Faux-Metro modes are actually implemented differently or not at all between Office 2013 apps. Sometimes the Metro-style Elipses icon is shown at the top during full screen mode (as in OneNote) and sometimes it’s shown in the upper right corner (as in Word) and sometimes it’s not shown at all (as in PowerPoint). Still I found many of the desktop style Office 2013 apps to be quite usable on my 12 inch Windows 8 Tablet PC screen, but screen size is absolutely an important thing to consider when trying to use programs that were designed for a more-precise mouse pointer.
Take a look at the video below to see a quick walk-through of Office 2013 Preview running on a touch tablet with Windows 8 Consumer Preview installed.
Have you tried the free preview version of Office 2013 yourself? What do you think of it so far?