Two Thumbs Up: Office 2013 Enhanced For Tablets, Thumb Control

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Microsoft today officially unveiled a customer preview of Office 2013, including new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote and other modules, with a consistent suite-wide interface that's enhanced for use on tablets.

With the Windows 8 launch now confirmed for October, Redmond today is giving Office customers a first and long look at the suite, which is rumored to be generally available early next year.

[Related: Microsoft Offers Office 2013 Consumer Preview For Desktop, Tablet Devices]

Microsoft in advance of the release sent the CRN Test Center an Intel Core i5-based Samsung Series 7 Slate tablet with 4 GB of memory pre-configured with 64-bit Windows 8, the latest preview of Office 365 and credentials for downloading the latest Office app betas for review. What we found was a stable and responsive suite of apps with a consistent user interface that integrates more tightly with each other and with Internet-based storage and social networks.

The first thing we noticed was that most of the new apps don't execute in Metro but instead run in Desktop Mode, confirming rumors from February to that effect. Falling into this category are Word, Excel and PowerPoint, Access, Project and Visio, plus Exchange, InfoPath and SharePoint servers. Only the Lync and OneNote betas are Metro-style; Microsoft declined to comment on when other modules might follow suit.

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