Windows and Office. It’s a duo that has made up the core of Microsoft’s business since before I was born, and remains the cornerstone upon which the rest of the company is built. And so it has gone, for as long as I can remember: with each new version of Windows, a refreshed edition of Office to go along with it. 



This year, we’ve got Office 2013. We’ve obviously had some experience with it in Windows RT form, and I spent a fair amount of time using the Office 15 Consumer Preview last year (in fact, I wrote my Masters thesis in Word 2013 Preview). In the grand scheme of things, it’s a pretty major change, with the biggest probably being the move towards a subscription-based model, though you can still buy Office in a traditional retail boxed edition with a standalone license. There are four different options for the standalone version of Office 2013: Home & Student (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, $139.99), Home & Business (adds Outlook, $219.99), Professional (adds Publisher and Access, $399.99), and a volume-channel only Professional Plus with InfoPath and Lync for large businesses. 



The interesting part is Office 365, which involves paying on a yearly basis for multi-device licensing and cloud storage. It’s worth clarifying the naming scheme here: Office 2013 refers to the latest version of the Office suite, while Office 365 refers to a subscription service that provides Office 2013 applications. Office 365 Home Premium and Office 365 University both come with the same set of programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Access) along with 20GB of SkyDrive storage, 60 Skype minutes, and multiple device installations (5 for 365HP, 2 for 365U). It’s a pretty sleek system, with all of Microsoft’s cloud services leveraged to provide a seamless experience. Obviously, this isn’t the first time we’re seeing cloud-based document storage and backup, but the SkyDrive integration in Office 365 is much deeper than we’ve seen in the past. 

Now, with a subscription model, pricing is obviously key. I think Home Premium’s yearly $99.99 fee is a bit ambitious, but the University edition at $79.99 for four years is actually a pretty great deal. The only downer with 365U is that it only has support for two device installs, as opposed to five with Home Premium, but that’s the price you pay for getting an 80% discount. A university ID is, naturally, required at the time of purchase. (Thank god that most of my friends are still undergrads.)

Office 2013 - Consumer Editions
Variants Office 365 Home Premium Office 365 University Office Home and Student 2013
Price $99.99 $79.99 $139.99
Subscription Time 1 year 4 years -
Device Installs 5 2 1
SkyDrive Storage Free + 20GB Free + 20GB Free (7GB)
Skype World Calling 60 mins 60 mins -
Office Programs Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote

Let’s focus on Home Premium for now, as it’s the version that we’re testing and also the most relevant consumer product in the entire Office 2013/365 lineup. At $99/year, it offers a lot of value if you’re planning on using it on 4-5 devices, but if you’re only putting it on one or two devices, that sounds a bit steep. If it were in the $50-80 per year range with two or three licenses included and additional device installs available for $10 each or so, that’d be much easier. This also eliminates the problem for users wanting to install it on more than 5 computers. As presently constituted, to get more than 5 device installs, you need to buy another Office 365 subscription using a different Microsoft ID. With a typical family of four, it’s not even that difficult to think of having more than 5 computers, even if my occupation makes my household collection of computers a bit of an exception. Basically, it’d be nice to see a bit more flexibility in the plan with regards to the number of licenses available, along with this being reflected in the pricing scheme. 


Setup is painless, with a simple executable (or .dmg for Mac installs) downloaded after creating or signing in with a Microsoft ID and entering your serial number. There is no DVD-based install, that has been retired in favor of purely digital distribution. The awesome thing here is that you can start using Office applications almost immediately, with many of the installation tasks being pushed to the background. Compared to the lengthy Office installs of old, this is a vast improvement. 

Look and Feel
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  • Da W - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - link

    It's not me that says it, it's all of you bitches posting on this site. Lost your start button? Don't like the ribbon? And now what, you don,t like the COLOR of office? Are you freaking serious? GET A LIFE!
  • Tams80 - Friday, February 8, 2013 - link

    If we're paying for something, then we are perfectly within our moral rights to complain if we don't like parts of it. Unsurprisingly, I reckon a lot of us have just not bothered upgrading (and thus paying).
  • Touche - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - link

    Just as I thought that UI degradation couldn't get worse than 2007->2010:

    They actually managed to make 2013 even less user friendly and ergonomic. Metro "progress" I guess. An the white, OMG, do they bundle sunglasses with the new Office?
  • Tams80 - Friday, February 8, 2013 - link

    At least 2010 had a few updates that outweighed the minor changes in UI. I must admit, 2007 looks better.

    Do reviews factor in the cost of sunglasses? XD
  • scarhead - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - link

    So from the review, I understand the M$FT's pricing model and that there's a new look that people should just get used to.

    How about performance-wise? Does Excel handle larger files faster? Large spreadsheets with my i7-3820QM/6G SSD isn't as snappy as I think Excel should be. Any new formulas or macro commands?

    I see it's easier to import pictures into Word. Once they're in, any faster?

    The Mac version is slightly mentioned once. Any other differences between the two platforms?
  • enterusername - Monday, February 4, 2013 - link

    I've been reading Anandtech for a long time and I'm generally impressed with the quality of articles.

    This "article" however is just sad. It looks like a blog from a Microsoft fan.

    What about security? It it advicable to store all documents on Skydrive?
    Microsoft has a very poor trackrecord for securiting their emailservice for instance.
    Should people just really get over the GUI if they don't like it? Is that what people should do if they don't like a product?
    Is $100/year really a good deal for most people? Do you even know what most people use Office for?
    What about performance for people who are using Excel for more than their home-budget?

    This is just an anoying article. Please don't degrade Anantech with this kind of crap.

    Btw: I'm using Office 2013 every day.
  • Avenger762 - Monday, February 4, 2013 - link

    Someone needs to use spell checker for office. In the picture, the items are spelled "Maoi" when it should be "Moai".
  • The0ne - Monday, February 4, 2013 - link

    Finally upgraded from 2003. 365 IS more of a aesthetic/visual upgrade and for me it works very nicely. In fact, the fluidity of working in the new apps is such a joy. The new ribbon is a tad better but I still rely mainly on the single customizable bar. There are templates to get most people going and styles that can easily make your documents nice and pretty.

    However, there are still a few things buggy about the programs, in particular Skydrive. This Office is really no different than from 2003. Most of the internals are still the same, with most of the same bugs and options. I don't think this is going to change unless the code is drastically changed. I've and a few others on the MS community site have encountered this really aweful bug where an Excel file would take forever to complete a function such as selecting a cell. So far no permanent fix has been issued.

    I've been using 365 since beta and Skydrive has a lot of critical bugs that may deter users and even corporate users away. I have many pending critical bugs on their help site but so far none has been able to resolved most of them. I'll list a few examples,

    1. Skydrive made copies of each of the file from each of the computer, renaming them to end with the PC name that connected to it.

    2. Skydrive can't unshared a file from one or more person. This is dangerous.

    3. Skydrive unable to sync properly on various computers even after re-installing several times.

    If you are synced to Skydrive you have to realize that it will upload your changes to the cloud. That means if your file is large and depending on your connection and what not it may slow you down in your work. On the bottom of the program it'll tell you that it's updating to Skydrive. Also realize most of these issues are from me sharing and allowing multiple users to the files. For now, I'm holding off until they can at least address the issues I've encounter. I definitely don't want to lose data because Skydrive decided to chew it up.

    I would recommend the new suite. The fluidity makes it much more enjoyable to work in, at least for me. I love typing now because of that single feature. Have fun.
  • rothnic - Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - link

    Vivek, nice overview. I do think Microsoft has a little of a communication problem with this recent release in regard to Office 2013 vs 356, and you helped clear it up for me.

    I recently purchased Office 2013 Professional through one of the employer partnership programs that allow employees to purchase Microsoft software at a big discount. I was able to get Pro for $10, then Visio for another $10. Project was another $10, but I didn't need it at the time.

    I also am currently working on my masters through a new distance program (search Georgia Tech PMASE), where we work 90% of the time in teams, have a two dave video teleconference every 3-4 weeks, recorded lectures, and a team assignment due each week. One of the things we found hugely useful was using Google Hangouts along with Drive/Docs. I use Hangouts about every other day, and use Google Drive as much as possible.

    The main issue we have with Google Drive is that the applications just do not help you produce the same quality of presentations as Office, especially 2013 (agree about the themes/templates). So we tend to work on Docs through brainstorming and rough drafts then we start the handing of versioned .docx documents back and forth through Google Drive.

    Even though my teammates don't currently have 2013, I'd be very interested if you could do a detailed look at the real time editing functionality of 2013. What the differences are between web and native applications, etc. After looking at other articles it looks like it may not be as useful as Google Drive/Docs, but isn't so straightforward.
  • MrCrispy - Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - link

    I really don't like how Windows 8 and Office 2013 have so much shiny wasted white space. And they've taken away the ability to customize color schemes.

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