After a series of sneak peeks, Microsoft last month finally unveiled Windows 8 and the home-brewed Surface tablet, followed by Windows Phone 8. And yesterday, it also released the Office 2013 Consumer Preview. Microsoft's re-invention spree continues with Office 2013, which has had a complete overhaul in a bid to keep up with changing times. The new Office suite is all set to change our good old Excel, Word and PowerPoint for the better. Here are five useful features that you miss in the current versions of Word.

MS Word hasn’t seen any major changes since the menu and ribbon bar was introduced. However, Word has now been rejuvenated to offer a clean, tidy and spacious look. The new UI presents a complete sub-category of word processing apps for people who like to work in a distraction-free, uncluttered manner. The white and clean look reminds us of how Google forced its new Gmail look upon users. Microsoft, however, plans to keep it flexible. It allows users to hide the Ribbon interface while typing and a simple tap on one of the Ribbon headings brings it back into view. On simply tapping in the document area to start typing once again, you will notice that the menus slide away.

More than words...

More than words…

Read Mode
Microsoft is aiming to offer a seamless experience to users on all platforms with Windows 8, and it takes the effort further with the re-designed Office suite; Office can now be used on multiple devices. In addition, a new feature called Read Mode allows users  to effortlessly replicate their reading experience on multiple devices. It has the capability to automatically adjust for large and small screens. Users can add comments, which will come handy when one intends to add inked comments using a stylus.

PDFs in Word
This is one of the biggest highlights of Office 2013. You can edit a PDF right inside Word. On opening the PDF file, PDF Reflow maintains the formatting of the document, including the charts. So, you can open a PDF file in Word and see the original formatting like headers, columns, and footnotes as they are and also edit the graphics within. The same applies to tables too; you can now edit tables as if you have created them. One can also embed a PDF file in Word.

Into the sky...

Into the sky…

Connectivity and Collaborative features
The new Office suite has been spruced up with connectivity and cloud features. It now comes with deep cloud integration via Microsoft’s SkyDrive. SkyDrive allows easy access to your documents, be it your Windows tablet, phone or PC. Microsoft allows users to even link their accounts to SkyDrive. For instance, link your Flickr account and embed the photos directly in Word. Microsoft also adds recent acquisitions like Skype and Yammer to the integration experience.

Office 2013’s collaborative features are also worth a mention. A new feature called markup view helps track the changes that each person makes and a red vertical line in the left margin indicates the changes that have been made to the document and a word balloon in the right margin indicates the presence of a comment.

Then, there’s also a new viewing mode called Reader. On viewing a document in this mode, each paragraph has a small triangle in front of it. On clicking the triangle after reading its associated paragraph, the paragraph collapses and more text appears without needing to scroll to another page.

Word 2013 also bookmarks your position in case you stop working on a document and on re-opening the file, it will remember the last position even if it is opened from another device.

Insert videos
You can bring online resources inside the document too. Yes, you heard that right. The new Word offers users the ability to search for videos and view them directly without leaving the document. You can also embed the HTML code of a video in the document and watch videos right away through. In case you find the embedded video appears to be quite small, Microsoft also allows you to enlarge it easily.

Embed videos directly in Word...

Embed videos directly in Word…

The new changes by Microsoft are a clear indication that it has bounced back fully armed into the mobile terrain to take on its competitors in the mobile space (read Google and Apple). It's still debatable though if Microsoft's new avatar will lead it to the top spot. However, we still have a large population working on laptops and desktops and the move may ensure that students and business professionals can harness the benefits of Microsoft’s newest OS version, and then take advantage of these benefits on all other Windows mobile devices.

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