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Microsoft unveils new version of Office; Focuses on Cloud, touchscreen devices

Microsoft has unveiled the customer preview of Microsoft Office 2013, the IT giant's latest Office offering. This will be the 15th version of Office and the company claims that it will work with touch, stylus, mouse or keyboards, across new Windows 8 devices, including Tablets. Let us have a look at the features of the new Office.

Focus on touchscreen devices

The company claims that the new Office will respond to touch as it does to keyboard and mouse. Users can swipe their fingers across the screen or pinch and zoom to read their documents and presentations. They can also use touch, stylus or keyboard to create content, take note and access features, or use those together and switch back and forth between them.

Additionally, the stylus can be used for colouring content, writing e-mail responses and then automatically converting those to text and so on. While making presentations on PowerPoint, users can zoom, mark up and navigate their slides with touch and stylus.

Word will also have a 'read mode' that will automatically adjust for large and small screens (handy thing for Tablets and mobile phones). Users can also zoom in and out of content, stream videos within documents, view revision marks and use touch to turn pages while reading.

Office on the Cloud

SkyDrive: The new Office will save documents to SkyDrive by default, making those available across Tablets, PCs and smartphones. The documents will be also available offline and can be synced when the user goes online the next time.

Additionally, once signed in to Office, a user's personalised settings (including his most recently used files, templates and custom dictionaries) will be available across his devices. Office will also remember where the user last left off and bring it back, all in a single click.

The company also shared three new Office 365 subscription services plans (without sharing the pricing and availability) – Office 365 Home Premium (for families and consumers), Office 365 Small Business Premium (for small businesses) and Office 365 ProPlus (for enterprise customers). Once subscribed, you will get the new 2013 editions of Office applications (like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access), automatic future upgrades, free Skype world minutes and extra SkyDrive storage, among others.

The Home Premium plan provides an additional 20 GB of SkyDrive storage and one hour of Skype world minutes per month while the Small Business Premium plan also includes business-grade e-mail, shared calendars, website tools and HD web conferencing. On the other hand, ProPlus is meant for enterprise customers who want advanced business capabilities and the flexibility to deploy and manage on the cloud.

Other features of the new Office include Yammer, a private social network for businesses; People Card, which provides an integrated view of the user's contacts everywhere in Office; and SharePoint, which allows users to follow people, teams, documents and sites.

"We are taking bold steps at Microsoft. The new Office is a Cloud service and will fully light up when paired with Windows 8," said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

The customer preview is available here for more information.

(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)

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