On Monday, Microsoft released a public preview of Office 2013, its forthcoming wave of office productivity solutions that spans the traditional PC desktop, Windows 8 Metros-style apps, mobile apps of all kinds, traditional on-premise servers, online services, and more. And while I've already written a ton of content about the Office 2013 Public Preview on SuperSite for Windows, I have some more secrets to share.
First, be sure to check out my SuperSite content, which includes the following:
Welcome to the Office 2013 Public Preview
Office 2013 Public Preview: Screenshot Gallery
Office 2013 Public Preview: Office On Demand
Office 2013 Public Preview: Multi-Touch and Gesture Support
Office 2013 Public Preview: New Features in Office
Office 2013 Public Preview: Outlook 2013
Office 2013 Public Preview: OneNote 2013
Office 2013 Public Preview: Word 2013
Office 2013 Public Preview: PowerPoint 2013
Office 365 Public Preview: Office 365 for Home and Businesses
Office 2013 Public Preview: Office Web Apps
OK, with that under your belt, here are some more details about the Office 2013 Public Preview.
Download and Install Office 2013 Today
You can find the Office 2013 Public Preview at the Office website. At the actual download page (US version), you'll discover that there are several choices available, and that most of them are listed as some version of Office 365. I'll explain why this is so below, but the short version is that, with Office 2013, Microsoft is moving its traditional software suite into the cloud and delivering it to PC desktops as a service. Available versions include:
Office 365 Home Premium. The new home version of Office 365 includes 20GB of additional SkyDrive storage, full Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, and Access 2013 applications, and can be installed on up to five PCs or tablets.
Office 365 Small Business. Available to small businesses with up to 10 users, this version includes a more traditional Office 365 experience with hosted Exchange, SharePoint and Lync, full Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Access, Publisher, and Lync 2013 applications, and can be installed on up to five PCs or tablets per user.
Office 365 ProPlus. This new offering provides the same features as Small Business but supports up to 25 users.
Office 365 Enterprise. This high-end Office 365 offering adds archiving and legal compliance features to Exchange Online and provides support for any number of users.
Note that because the Office 2013 public preview is delivered using virtualization technologies, it can be run side-by-side with previous Office versions, including Office 2007 and 2010. And yes, that includes Outlook, which was previously a no-no in side-by-side configurations.
The Office 2013 public preview requires Windows 7 or the Windows 8 Release Preview.
Biggest High-Level Change: Office as a Service
Microsoft has been trying to sell Office to customers as a subscription service for several years now, but with Office 2013, the company may be making its first viable argument for such a service. By combining the traditional Office applications with Office 365, including versions for home users, small businesses and enterprises, Microsoft has landed on a truly valuable set of solutions that solves the age-old problem of combining the very latest client software with the very latest sever versions, and (hopefully) at a reasonable cost.
Best of all, Office 2013 delivered via Office On Demand (basically a new version of ClickToRun) is truly a beautiful thing to experience: It literally takes under two minutes to get up and running with Office this way. And of course, a subscription guarantees you're always up to date, so when Office 2013 updates or some future Office version hits, you get that as part of your subscription.
Windows 8 Apps
Microsoft will deliver two Metro-style apps for Windows 8, called OneNote and Lync. These apps are companion apps for the full-featured desktop applications and don't replace OneNote 2013 or Lync 2013. These apps are available in Windows Store on the Windows 8 Release Preview.
Windows RT Apps
Windows RT (the ARM-based version of Windows 8) will actually include four Office desktop applications—Word RT, Excel RT, PowerPoint RT, and OneNote RT—a first for any mainstream Windows version. (The Windows 8 apps mentioned above will also work on Windows RT.) Windows RT will ship in October 2012.
Office 2013 for Mac
Yes, trendy hipsters: There will be a version of Office 2013 for the Mac and it will be made available through the Office 365 subscriptions mentioned above. It's not available today, however.
Office 2013 for … iPad? Android? Windows Phone 8?
While Microsoft will not confirm this, my sources tell me that Microsoft will indeed deliver Office 2013 apps for the iPhone, iPad, and Android, and that these installs will be made available through one of the Office 365 services mentioned above and go towards the per-user install count. Microsoft has said publicly that versions of Office 2013 will be made available for Windows Phone 8 as well.
Office 2013 Servers
Don't worry, on-premise fans, Microsoft is delivering new versions of on-premise Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, and other Office servers. You can find these products on the Office website or via TechNet or MSDN.
Pricing is of course the key to making the new Office 365 services a huge success. With Microsoft not announcing pricing at this time, I'll leave you with the following thought: The low-end small business version of today's Office 365 version costs $6 per user per month. If Microsoft can deliver Office 365 Home Premium at this price—again, while offering five Office 2013 installs per user—this thing becomes a complete no brainer.
Microsoft is also not announcing any further schedule milestones for Office 2013, and is especially not interested in discussing the general availability of the product. But I can tell you that the earliest Office 2013 will ship is early 2013 and that my sources say Office 2013 won't ship until May 2013. If this is true, it's likely that Windows RT will simply ship with pre-release Office RT applications that will be updated over time. (There is precedent for this. You may recall that Windows Server 2008 originally shipped with a pre-release version of Hyper-V.)