Microsoft has announced a new version of Office - the 15th since 1989. Is it worth staying on the software merry-go-round or should you sit this one out?
One of the problems with Microsoft Office is that it's such a huge software suite that many of its functions are only of value to a relatively small number of people. Is Office 2013 different?
In a word - yes.
Since the last version of Office two things have changed significantly. Cloud services are now central to many businesses and social media has become an important tool for collaboration within teams and communication with customers.
Microsoft has been touting SkyDrive as an alternative to DropBox, Google Drive and other services for some time. With Office 2013, documents are saved to SkyDrive by default. Why does this matter? Because you can access your documents from wherever you are on different devices. It also means that if your computer is lost or stolen, you'll be able to keep working as your documents will be safe. Just get another computer, log into your Microsoft account and your documents will be there.
Even if the computer you get doesn't yet have Office installed, Office 2013 will work through a web browser if you choose to get Office 2013 via subscription rather than as an up-front purchase.
On the social side, a couple of company acquisitions made by Microsoft are starting to show their first sign of fitting into the Microsoft vision. Skype will integrate with your Outlook contacts so that you can easily contact people using the 60 minutes of free international call minutes that Microsoft includes with Office.
Yammer, a private social network tool, can be used to create communities within your business for sharing documents and communicating.
Is it worth the bother?
If all you do is simple documents and spreadsheets and don't work in groups then there are ways to get some of the functionality of Office 2013 in other ways. A free cloud storage account with get you the online storage and you can easily change your default saving location to the cloud-synced folder.
In such cases - you can wait for Office 2013 and get it when it's bundled on your next new computer.
If you work in a team and communicate with lots of people outside the business, then Office 2013 is worth considering.