Microsoft Office 2013 for Providers
Important note: this document is designed for Local Support Providers (LSPs). This page was last modified on Wednesday, 06-Feb-2013 14:36:44 EST.
On January 29th, 2013, Microsoft released Office 2013, the latest iteration of its Office suite of productivity applications for Windows and the successor to Office 2010. The most intriguing change is the integration of the Office 2013 desktop applications with Office 365, Microsoft's online subscription-based Office suite. There are also a number of new features and enhancements, particularly integration with Microsoft SkyDrive and the availability of Office 2013 RT. Otherwise, Office 2013 is an evolutionary upgrade that maintains the Ribbon and much of the other core functional interface elements of Office 2010 and 2007 but also significantly revamps the style of the applications to approximate that of Windows 8.
Design & Features
The look and feel of Office 2013 is both familiar and different from Office 2010. The Ribbon and menus continue to exist essentially unchanged. A user new to Office 2013 but familiar with Office 2010 should be able to, for the most part, find the same functions in the same places. However, the look of the applications has changed significantly, principally in the rejection of skeuomorphic design. Nearly all design elements that mimic the physical world—shading, buttons, shadows, glows—are gone, in favor of flat, texture-less blocks of uniform color. This change approximates the appearance of Windows 8 and its "Modern" interface, though Office runs within the classic Windows desktop interface. There are other visible tweaks made to facilitate the use of Office 2013 with touchscreens, a not-surprising change given the optimization for touch in Windows 8.
Functionality remains nearly identical to Office 2010, again with small tweaks and improvements. Some examples:
However , SkyDrive raises significant information security concerns for the University. Penn currently has no agreement with Microsoft regarding data stored on SkyDrive, so Penn users should not store any potentially confidential or critical information there (and probably should not use SkyDrive at this time in favor of the Penn+Box service). ISC expects the Box for Office application, which provides similar functionality, to be updated to support Office 2013 shortly.
Also notable is the availability of an RT version of Office 2013 to run on Windows RT devices, but perhaps more notable is the omission of Outlook 2013 in the RT suite. Currently, Windows RT users do not have a viable enterprise email client option available.
Compatibility & Installation
Office 2013 is compatible with Windows 8 and Windows 7 SP1. Note that Office 2013 will not install or function on PCs running Windows Vista or Windows XP.
Provider note: Microsoft has once again narrowed the operating system space footprint of Office with this latest version.
ISC supports the Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook components of Office 2013 for its clients, including off-campus students.
Outlook 2013 functions as expected with the University's Exchange 2010 servers. Instructions for configuring Outlook 2013 are here. Word 2013 functions as expected with EndNote X6, but may require manual configuration. Instructions are here.
Microsoft Office 2013 has somewhat greater system requirements than many previous versions of Microsoft Office. ISC suggests the following minimum system requirements:
Office 2013 can be installed as either a 32-bit or a 64-bit version. ISC strongly suggests that the 32-bit version be installed if there is any expectation that any third-party Office plug-in will be used. This applies even if Office 2013 will be run in a 64-bit version of the Windows operating system.
Office 2013 is available in a total of five different versions, down from the seven versions of Office 2010. The available versions are:
Some components of Office are less common and/or less well known than Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access. These applications are:
lynda.com training for Office 2013 is available to many of Penn's Schools and Centers. For more information, please see the University's lynda.com page.
Office 2013 Home & Student is available from the Computer Connection for $140.
University of Pennsylvania departments should purchase Office 2013 through the Microsoft Select Program, a volume license agreement. A detailed description of the Microsoft Program has been prepared by the Office of Software Licensing. All purchases of Microsoft Select software are made through the Computer Connection.
Microsoft has also created a subscription model based on Office 365. In this model, users pay either an annual or monthly fee for Office 365—frequency and cost vary based on desired features, constituency, and personal vs. institutional purchasing—for access to both desktop and cloud-based versions of the Office applications and larger quotas for cloud-based storage in Microsoft SkyDrive beyond the standard 7 GB quota. More information on Office 365 licensing at the University will be communicated as soon as it is available.
Like Office 2010, Office 2013 is an evolutionary revision of Microsoft's application suite, building on the significant changes in Office 2007.
ISC currently recommends Office 2013 only for computers running Windows 8 or Windows RT. Other users should postpone upgrading until the initial bugs are worked out unless absolutely necessary. ISC also recommends that departments considering purchasing Office 2013 adopt a wait-and-see approach as to how the purchase-vs.-subscription models will play out in the University environment. This is a significant and real change that will likely affect purchasing strategies in meaningful ways over the next few years.
ISC believes that most University users who choose to upgrade to Office 2013 will be well served by either the individually purchased Professional or the institutionally purchased Professional Plus versions.
--Michael McLaughlin and John Mulhern III, ISC Technology Support Services (February 5, 2013)
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
Comments & Questions