Microsoft yesterday announced that it has completed the Release to Manufacturing build of Office 2013, and that the full version of the office suite would be available to the masses in the first quarter of 2013. The company stated on its official blog that a preview version of Office 13 would be included on Windows RT devices, beginning with the Windows 8 launch on October 26.

Users who have subscribed to TechNet or MSDN can download their copies of the final version by mid-November. Volume Licensing customers with Software Assurance will be able to download the Office 2013 applications as well as other Office products including SharePoint 2013, Lync 2013 and Exchange 2013 through the Volume Licensing Service Center by mid-November. These products will be available on the Volume Licensing price list on December 1. Microsoft would be rolling out updates and new capabilities to Office 365 customers in its next service update, starting in November until general availability.

Microsoft stated that people who purchase Office 2010 from retailers or resellers will receive the latest version of Office for free when it is available.

Not supporting one of the most widely used OSes in the world!

To be available by Q1 2013, businesses to get it in November.

Office 2013 features a new design that works with touch, stylus, mouse or keyboard across new Windows devices, including tablets. In our preview of the suite, we found that it has plenty of new features to make it cloud friendly and supports touch-based devices. The new user interface is quite intuitive and the new features give you more room than ever for editing and creating files. The overall aesthetics of the new version are simply beautiful – from the smooth refresh rate for the cursor and the lag-free, fluid scrolling to neat little subtle animations, everything feels buttery. The colour styles are well chosen, giving this new Office a very minimalistic yet professional look.

The new Office will be delivered to subscribers through a cloud service that is always up to date. Unlike the earlier versions of Office, the new one is tied into a subscription service of Office 365 and depending on the version you pick, you'll be able to download 'apps' like Word and Excel on a limited number of PCs using a single licence.

Office 2013 will also be ported to various platforms – Windows Phone will have in-built support for files created in Office 2013, and will enable users to access files through SkyDrive, SharePoint, and Office 365 email; a Mac version will be released on general availability; tablets running Windows 8 can install Office 2013 apps; and there are plenty of rumours about apps for iOS and Android platforms slated for release in March next year.

According to reports in the media, Microsoft has said that while Office Mobile will work across the Windows Phone, iOS and Android platforms, it has nothing additional to reveal right now.  Both iOS and Android users have access to a host of productivity applications and suites that allow them to view, edit, and create documents traditionally used with Microsoft’s Office applications. What remains to be seen is whether Microsoft’s Office suite for Android and iOS would have as many features, or would work as well as it does on Windows Phone 8.

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