With Office 2013, Microsoft sets the bar high. The reworked suite of applications runs on a range of devices, including new Windows tablets; it has a new look, which is fast and fluid, yet has familiar commands; it responds to touch and stylus, as well as keyboard and mouse; and everything's cloud-connected.
The customer preview we tested is available in four plans through Microsoft's cloud service, Office 365. We selected Office 365 Enterprise Preview since it meets the needs of midsize and large organizations. This subscription includes Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, Access, OneNote, Publisher, InfoPath and Lync clients. Additionally, enterprises have access to Exchange Online (including new archiving and legal hold capabilities), SharePoint Online and Lync Online to conduct meetings.
In the Preview, administrators can create 25 user accounts, with each allowed five installations of the applications on different systems. Microsoft hasn't announced pricing or scalability for its new Office offering. The current Office 365, which supports more than 50,000 users, costs from $8 to $22 per user per month. The top-tier enterprise plans include a subscription to Office Professional Plus 2010 for up to five devices per user.
Further, we tested the traditional Office Professional Plus 2013 client software suite that can be installed on a single machine. Also, we installed the 2013 versions of Exchange, SharePoint and Lync servers on virtual machines running Windows Server 2008 R2. Our client hardware was a mix of Lenovo and Dell desktop and laptops loaded with Windows 7 Enterprise and a Lenovo X220 tablet with the Windows 8 Release Preview.