Hardware investigate

Getting hands on with Office 2013

Can Microsoft create an interface for Office that successfully melds together to support mouse, touch, and stylus?

Windows 8 is not the only Microsoft product that is moving from a mouse-centric view of the world to one that embraces touch- and pen-driven actions as well — Microsoft's other cashcow, Office, has also received an interface touch-up.

We were given the opportunity to put Office 2013 through its paces during Microsoft's TechEd conference last week.

The hardware used was a Samsung Series 7 tablet that had Windows 8 Pro installed and packed an Intel Core i5 processor with 4GB of RAM.

But the most interesting aspect was the choice of input devices: a bluetooth keyboard and stylus were supplied.

This meant that any scrolling action needed to occur via the use of fingers, as it is not possible to move any viewpoint with the stylus. I would prefer that there was a way to scroll with a stylus by hitting one of the buttons, or adding a new one on the side, that enabled a scroll mode. Something like IE's scroll mode when the middle mouse button is depressed would be nice.

After a couple of hours with the device, and being questioned as to why I would want such a mode (presumably this has never occurred to the design teams at Microsoft or Samsung), I still believe that this is a major oversight at the worst, and a sheer annoyance at the very least.

Having to switch from pen-driven input to finger-driven input may only take a second of your time, but each second of movement adds up very quickly.

Maybe I do not grok finger- and pen-driven navigation yet, but it strikes me as strange that I can have the full range of input operations with a mouse or sole use of finger, but not sole use of a stylus.

Enough ranting; let's move on to the program at hand: Office 2013.

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Chris Duckett attended TechEd as a guest of Microsoft.

About

Some would say that it is a long way from software engineering to journalism, others would correctly argue that it is a mere 10 metres according to the floor plan.During his first five years with CBS Interactive, Chris started his journalistic advent...

8 comments
dogknees
dogknees

Regardless of the alternative, as far as I can discover none will run rich Excel workbooks with lots of VBA behind them without a complete re-write in a different language. Where I work, we have many templates with a lot of VBA code. Re-writing, testing, training,... would be a massive task. This is one reason MS will get their way with a lot of businesses. It's just too hard to move at this point in the game. While there are/will be apps that serve some of our needs, there are quite a few more complex workbooks that are just too specific to our business, state and countries laws. We built them because we couldn't find commercial alternatives.

mdbizzarri
mdbizzarri

While I understand that things change, I should be allowed to keep things the same. Microsoft use to have backward compatability. I am not a fan of Windows 7 and Office 2010 with tabs, and now that Windows 8 is going to be that much different, to heck with them all. I will buy my next box based off of Linux, though not sure which flavor. Linux Mint is very Windows like, so that will make my wife happy. Since Microsoft seems to decide for me how I should operate a computer, I will choose to spend my money elsewhere. In today's day and age, I am not for techni-communism like Apple or Microsoft. Being dictated to is NOT ok. Luckily, there are choices aplenty. In honor of talk Like a Pirate Day, "Hang them from the highest yard arm!!!!"

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

Libre Office as it works perfectly on Windows 7 and Windows XP and looks a lot like MSO 2003

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

Libre Office instead of Microsoft Office. The 2007 Ribbons were bad, but this one with the all caps does make the MSO 2007 Ribbons look good; but I still prefer the simple menus of MSO 2003 and Libre Office - since MSO 2003 has issues working with any thing except Windows XP I now stay with Libre Office as it works perfectly on Win XP, Win 7, and Linux.

Ron_007
Ron_007

On your screen cap the "new and improved" app has only 3 views compared to 5 in Office 2010. Great 'improvement'.

Ron_007
Ron_007

Apparently you don’t have much experience with Word! What “new” Reader view. The only thing new about it is the name! Before 2003 there was “Print Preview”, 2003 had the “Reading Layout”, 2007 and 2010 had “Full Screen Reading” views. I think the excuse for shouting at us, all caps, is the teeny-tiny 7 inch screens made lower case too hard to read. Ignoring the reality of my 24 inch LCD Monitor. Thank you very much "design" team.

dogknees
dogknees

I agree. I just want to hear "them" spell it out.

dogknees
dogknees

Did they happen to mention the rational for the ugly ALL CAPS headings on the ribbon?