In the era of lightweight, cloud-provided mobile apps Microsoft Word 2013 is moving in the other direction.
The upcoming version of Word 2013 got the blanching Metro treatment but draining the color out of the tool ribbon can’t hide the fact that Word 2013 is packed with features and popping at the seams with functionality.
Offices that use highly formatted documents will find nothing to complain about in the customer preview of Office 365/2013 that includes Word 2013. Top level new features such as alignment guides, simple markup view, direct video/picture insertion, and PDF document editing are all good additions to the product. And for the most part, the tool ribbon looks and acts as it does in the current version of Word. Users who have already made the jump to a version of Office that uses the ribbon will have no trouble using Word 2013.
While none of these new features are compelling reasons to upgrade today, they all buttress the notion that a future upgrade will make sense. All of this new document goodness, and offline access to work stored in Microsoft’s SkyDrive, will keep Word 2013 in the document arena.
I think the interesting questions arise when I think about Word 2013 in 2015. In another two years Google Docs, LibreOffice and other online and open source office productivity alternatives will almost certainly have made strides in fidelity and useful features. Enough that in that not-to-distant time, it may not be a foregone conclusion that every enterprise user will have to have every bell and whistle.
Why get bulky Word 2013 when apps that were designed for touch from the start are available? The interesting questions over the next several years won’t be “does Word 2013 have a feature for that?” (the answer will almost certainly be “yes”), rather it will boil down to audit/control, license cost, “good enough” document fidelity and user support costs.
You can read my Office 365 customer preview review here.
You can see the slide show of Office 365 in action here.