[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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  • Access 2013 cannot open old mdb files

  • Awesome review. Thanks.

  • I did not know about the ribbon customize button. Thanks VG for the review. :)

  • Perfect! I love the new Office 2013 except the limitation being put on IMAP in Outlook 2013.

  • i love office 2013!

    @Omega Man,
    same here. I am using Office 2013 customer preview.

  • Love the way you write your articles. I can easily find if I don't know something and I don't need to read the whole text. Thank you Vishal for irreplaceable supporting.

  • Did it take anybody else two hours to install Office 2013? It took 30 minutes to connect to my account and then another hour and a half to install. And despite what it said, it was unusable until it finished installing.

  • Thanks for the Big Review VG~
    My Download is on the way, because I have a slow internet Connection.

  • Unfortunately, my install of Office 2013 on my quad-core AMD A8 laptop gave me a horrible experience. It's definitely noticeable that Office 2013 is slower than previous versions of Office. From scrolling documents in Word to viewing mails in Outlook, I can definitely say that Office 2013's performance isn't optimized. I've disabled graphics acceleration and sub-pixel font rendering, but still, Office 2013's performance is a mess.

    My laptop plays every single game just fine but why is it Office 2013 lags on my laptop? As of now, I went back to Office 2010 because Office 2013 is way unusable for me. Hope that Microsoft will release an update to fix this performance issue in 2013.

    Anyway, regarding this article, VG never fails to write awesome and in-depth articles. Keep up the good work.

    -Paul from Philippines.

  • I have Office 2010 on my Windows 8 PC and I don't see why should I upgrade to Office 2013. Can anyone convince me enough to ditch 2010?

  • VG

    ^^ There is not much difference and if you are satisfied with 2010 version, you should stay with it.

    Thanks for your comments. Much appreciated. :)

  • All that review (and several weeks of my using it) shows us is that there's not a lot of reason to migrate from Office 2010 or 2007. 2003 migration is probably a good idea. Very few improvements, mostly minimal and incremental.

    You keep mentioning interface change that can be made. Unfortunately, these only apply to the ribbon, etc at the top. The body of any document or e-mail can't be modified. Lots & lots of white space and washed out colors.

    Why on earth did they change the icon color for Outlook? I defy anyone to tel me that they can distinguish them by color alone. One has a white "O" and the other has a white "W".

    I'm glad my copy was available from TechNet. Otherwise, I'd be very pissed off at what I got for my money. If you are running Office 2010, skip this one.

  • @Yash

    Office 2013 is faster, smarter and lighter. There is more layout advancement than 2010, better compression, optimized for cloud access (via Skydrive).
    I am not convincing you, I am just telling that if you are not orthodox then you can always upgrade to 2013.

  • Well I am running Office 2013 on Windows 8 and its awesome.

  • Looks good so far. Outlook 2010 was begoming too slow to be usable anymore (hosted Exchange with 3-4GB of mail). 2013 is definately more usable even with half the memory and Win 8.

    So, with identical model HDD with updated firmware:
    W500, 8GB RAM, Win7 x64 SP1 and 32-bit Office 2010 == slow Outlook.
    W510, 4GB RAM, Win8 x64 and 64-bit Office 2013 == fast Outlook.

    So, I'm happy with both changes. You should definately update.


    I just installed Office 2013 on the same AMD A8 quad-core laptop now running Windows 8 and it works fine now. My install of Office 2013 on Windows 7 gave me a horrible experience and I didn't really expect that Office 2013 runs better with Windows 8.

    It seems like Office 2013 does not play nice with Windows 7.

    -Paul from Philippines

  • i am not able to open sky drive pro
    when i open it from the start menu it asks "whic library you want to sync?"
    whatever i tried but all it says is "we can't connect to the specified sharepoint site..."
    plzz help

  • same thing here. Are you using the Customer Preview or the RTM (full/trial)?

  • full version

  • Hi Vishal,

    Thank You for the review it is very good. Can we install Office 2013 in windows 7 ?

  • ^^Office 2013 is available for both Windows 7 and Windows 8 download, so yes.

  • Is there any way to have a Figure index with arabic number (i.e. Figure 1.3) and a table index with roman numbers (i.e. Table I-V) while using a roman based chapter numeration scheme?

  • I have problem with add~in Office tab 9.20...won't enable in word office 2013.

  • I just got a new update:

    Office 2013 will be released to general availability on January 29th, 2013. A teaser has been revealed: microsoft.com/office/timeto365/

    what do you guys think?

  • Great review, I like Office 2013, it has some good features and integration with SkyDrive is great but have to agree with previous poster Paul, the performance on Windows 7 is terrible. Also I don't know why hyperlinks in Excel didn't work properly, links to local files became links to the same files on SkyDrive and took forever to load. In the end I uninstalled it and went back to Office 2010, maybe it's optimised for Windows 8.

  • Dear VG , The store from where i bought my laptop provided me with office 2013 review. Could you tell me what is it??

  • VG

    ^^ I think you are talking about Office 2013 Customer Preview version:


  • I can't activate the office 2013.How I can activate it?

  • VG

    ^^ You'll find the option to activate Office in FILE menu. It should be present in Account section.

  • Hi Vishal,
    I'm using the new 2013 version, and I can't figure out how to remove the contact card in the Outlook View. Not from the Task panel, but from the actual message. Is there a way to remove or minimize it?

  • VG

    ^^ Sorry but I dont use Outlook so cant help much.

  • I'm totally agree with Paul. Office 2013 is for Windows 8. Period. For tha case, I revert back to Office 2007. The basics

  • Office 2013 Service Pack 1 released.

  • VG

    ^^ Yep. Announced: :)


  • respected team members.pls i need 2013 notes and detail explanation

  • hi , now i am trying to open my ms office word it is always showing "getting ready 100%"
    i waited for 1 hour but still it is showing GETTING READY 100% , so help me to open the ms word

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