First look: Microsoft Office 2013
The next revision of Office adds touches of Metro without itself being a Metro appFollow @syegulalp
Some other little features, though, are just right. I especially liked the way Word remembers your last position in a Word document when you reopen a file -- handy if you're plowing through a long, complex work over several sessions. A revised navigation pane makes it easier to jump through a document via predefined markers like outline levels. Comments now have what could be called a conversational feature set: You and your collaborators can trade comments back and forth, then mark them as completed when the issues in question are addressed.
I'm not a bean-counter or number-cruncher, so many of the changes in Excel are a bit to the left of my usual beat. Most of them are either touch-behavior enhancements (such as flicking through a table) or compliance mechanisms (the ability to audit changes in a spreadsheet is handy), or they're aids to cut down on the amount of repetitive work that spreadsheets involve. For instance, Flash Fill purports to be a kind of autocomplete for repetitive data filling. You enter a few examples of what you want, and Excel attempts to intuit the rest of the pattern for you. Unfortunately, I couldn't get it to pick up on any of the patterns I used. The Metro look, by the way, also suits Excel pretty nicely. It makes staring at tables full of numbers a little less painful.
Excel's Metro-izing has changed the functionality of the application very little; note the right-click contextual-editing menu, which is much the same as before.
Most people I know who use PowerPoint feel its feature set has peaked, so most of the really useful changes involve controlling presentations, especially when working with a projector or big display. For example, if you have a second display connected, PowerPoint attempts to detect it and automatically place the presentation there, with your notes and your slide overview (including a glimpse at what's next) confined to your notebook's own display. PowerPoint also adds a clutch of share-to-the-cloud and collaborate-in-the-cloud features, among them the ability to show a presentation to someone who doesn't have Office, via a Web browser. (Word has the same functionality.)
Of all the apps in the suite, Outlook is the one that has received the most radical Metro makeover. The good news is that Outlook actually benefits from the changes. I spend a good deal of my time in Outlook -- not just for my email but for task lists, calendars, pretty much everything Outlook offers -- and I found myself quite liking the appearance of Outlook with a Metro-esque visual style.
In previous versions of Outlook, access to different functions -- mail, calendar, contacts, to do, and so on -- was provided through a row of icons along the bottom of the window. Those icons are now text, with a twist. Hover the mouse over any one of those items, and a "peek" view of the item in question comes up. This gives you quick access to those features without having to pin them in the default view or switch views entirely.
Many of the other improvements for Outlook are in the same vein: incremental, but handy. I liked the reply/reply-all/forward buttons at the top of a message in the preview pane, as well as the little three-day weather forecast strip at the top of the calendar. Another useful option, albeit one buried in the settings for a given email account, is a slider that controls how much mail is stored locally vs. how much is retained on the server. It's useful mostly for IMAP accounts (such as Gmail), where on-server storage is more common than with POP/SMTP.
The Metro look for Office is best demonstrated by Outlook 2013, which gives the program the clean-lined look of a paper day planner. Note the quick-reply buttons at the top of the message preview.