New way of buying it
One major difference with Office 2013 is that there's a new way of buying it. Even though boxed copies and online downloads are nevertheless available, you can as well get an Office 365 subscription that gets you all Office core apps for all the platforms you use. Instead of having to pay again for Mac Office or the iPhone OneNote app, you just get them all.
Microsoft isn't but talking about price, or when we'll see these new Office apps. We do know that the Windows RT version of Office will be included when the Surface tablet ships, which Microsoft said would be when Windows 8 is usually available – nevertheless those could be preview versions of the apps, and the expectation is that Office 2013 itself may not be launching until early 2013.
The apps the traditional way
And on Windows meanwhile you don't have to install the apps the traditional way; when you open a document, the application streams down automatically from the Internet and installs itself - starting with the code to open the document and at that time adding the features you're most likely to use first, until you have the whole program.
The plan is for this to be fast enough that it works on a PC you use at a friend's house or in a hotel business centre; you'll get your Office apps 'on demand', with your settings - and your recent documents, synced courtesy of SkyDrive. Those show up in a new 'welcome' view, along with templates for new documents and links to jump back to the page you were on when you last edited a document.
The Metro Lync client bears some similarities to the People app, showing a list of frequent contacts and recent conversations, as then as showing details of any upcoming online meetings. You can combine video and IM conversations, sliding the video to the side if you want to have more room for text chat. And you can have HD video calls with more than one person then.
The familiar desktop Office apps have had a Metro makeover; not just taking away interface chrome like shadows and bevelled edges and adding a touch mode that puts more space between buttons and key tools on the right side of the screen where your thumb will be, however also simplifying the layout of components and getting rid of windows that pop up and hide what you're doing. So when you hit Reply in Outlook, the new message opens in the same place.
You can as well switch between all, unread and flagged mail the way you can in the Windows Phone mail client and you can 'peek' at contacts and calendar appointments right from the main Outlook screen. There's better social network integration, with a feed from multiple social networks and links to start video and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls directly.
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