[Review] What’s New in Microsoft Office 2013?

We know that Microsoft has finalized its latest Office suite "Office 2013" which was codenamed as Office 15 and the final RTM version of Office 2013 is available for download to MSDN and TechNet subscribers. Other people will be able to purchase and download it in first quarter of 2013 (most probably in end of January or first week of February 2013) as mentioned here.

In the meantime a free 60-day trial version of Office 2013 Professional Plus RTM version is available absolutely free to public which can be downloaded from following topic:

Download Free Microsoft Office 2013 Professional Plus Trial

This trial version is fully functional and there are no restrictions or feature limitations so you can enjoy it for 2 months and after that you'll be able to purchase Office 2013 from Microsoft Store and local market.

This new version of Microsoft Office comes with many new features and a brand new UI. You must be aware of the new UI as we have posted several Office 2013 articles recently in our exclusive Office section covering Office 2013 tips and how-to guides.

Today in this topic, we are going to post a review of Office 2013 highlighting the new UI changes and features. This review should help you in better understanding the new user interface and getting used to it.

So without wasting time lets start the review:

Office 2013 Start Screen:

The first new thing which you'll notice while launching any Office 2013 program is the new "Start Screen". Microsoft has added Windows 8 style Start Screen to Office 2013 programs.

The new Start Screen in Office 2013 helps you in creating new documents quickly and easily using built-in templates. It also allows you to open recently opened documents. Following is a preview of the new Start Screen present in Office 2013:


As you can see in left-side of Start Screen, you get a history of recently opened files. You can click on any entry to directly open it. If you want to remove any particular file from the history, right-click on it and select "Remove from list" option. You can also pin a document so that it doesn't get lost in future. If you want to clear the history, just right-click on any entry and select "Clear unpinned Documents" option.


If you don't like the new Start Screen in Office 2013, you can just press Esc or Enter key to bypass it and it'll open a blank document in Office program. You can also permanently turn the Start Screen off using following tutorials:

Office 2013 Ribbon UI:

Microsoft introduced the ribbon UI first in Office 2007 version and since then its present in all newer versions of Office such as Office 2010 and Office 2013. But Microsoft has tried to make the ribbon UI in Office 2013 minimal and clean. All the Aero glass effects such as blur, transparency, reflection, gradients have been removed and you get a clean UI as shown in following screenshot:


If you don't like the ribbon and want to disable it, you can't but Microsoft has added a new button in Office titlebar to customize ribbon appearance. The button can be found near the minimize button. When you click on the button, it shows following 3 options:

  • Auto-hide Ribbon
  • Show Tabs
  • Show Tabs and Commands


"Auto-hide Ribbon" option puts the Office program in full screen mode. "Show Tabs" option minimizes the ribbon similar to Windows 8 Explorer ribbon and "Show Tabs and Commands" option is the default option which shows the ribbon in full view.

Microsoft has set the tab titles in all caps in Office 2013 Ribbon, if you want to convert the tab titles into proper case, check out following tutorial:

How to Get Rid of All Caps Tab Titles in Microsoft Office 2013 Ribbon?

Office 2013 Themes and Backgrounds:

When Office 2013 was under development and Microsoft released a free Customer Preview version of Office 2013 to public, lots of people complained about the use of too much white color in the UI. Microsoft listened those complaints and introduced 2 new themes in Office 2013 final version which are Light Gray and Dark Gray. So now you have a total of 3 themes in Office 2013 to choose from:

  • White (default)
  • Light Gray
  • Dark Gray


If you want to change the theme in Office 2013, following tutorial will help you:

How to Get Rid of Too Much White Space in Microsoft Office 2013? Switch to New Gray Color Themes

Office 2013 also comes with many backgrounds which are shown in right-side of Office titlebar and ribbon. You can choose a background only if you are signed in using a Windows Live account as mentioned in next point.

[Fix] Can’t Set or Change Office 2013 Background Image, Automatically Resets to None

Windows Live Integration in Office 2013:

Similar to Windows 8, Microsoft has integrated its Windows Live service in Office 2013. Now you can sign in using your Windows Live account and all your customized settings such as themes, backgrounds will be saved in your Windows Live account settings. Now if you sign in using the same account in any other computer, all your customize settings will be restored in Office 2013.

You can sign in using Windows Live account by clicking on "Sign in" link given in Office titlebar below the titlebar buttons. Once you sign in, you can change Office theme and backgrounds using account settings which can be accessed by clicking on the account name or picture showing below titlebar buttons.


You can also access the same settings page by clicking on "File" menu present in the ribbon and then click on "Account" tab given in left-sidebar.

In account settings page, you can change the theme and backgrounds. The page also shows status of Office 2013 activation. If you are using the trial version of Office 2013, you can convert it into full version from here. The same page also allows you to sign out from the account if you want.


Other Useful Office 2013 Tips and Guides:

If you have started using Office 2013 and facing some problems, check out following topics:

That's all for now. Feel free to share your feedback about the review in your comment. If you have any query or suggestion, please share it with us...

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Posted in: Microsoft Office

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