Top critical review
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Good value if you don't have an earlier version of Office
on 13 August 2013
This is a whole suite of complex programs so I'm not going to go into too much detail about each one.
What you get is Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote, & Outlook. Although when I say what you get, that isn't strictly true. What you actually get is a very small box containing a credit card sized piece of cardboard. This piece of cardboard has a number on it. That's all you get in the post - a piece of cardboard.
What you do then is sign in to, or create, a Microsoft account. Then you enter your product key. Only at that point do you get to download the software you have purchased. No disc, no manuals, no anything of any substance really. You can have a disc if you want but you have to buy it in addition to what you have already paid!!!!
You can download a 32 bit or a 64 bit version. I've got a 64 bit version of Windows 7 so thought the 64 bit version would do, but Microsoft issue dire warnings about using the 64bit version, so I went for 32!!!!!
I'd read a few reviews about this version of Office and most were unfavourable, so I was a little wary of installing it. I have Office 2007 on my system and I was surprised to discover that after installing Office 2013, all of my Office 2007 programs still functioned normally. Which was great because my Office 2007 suite contains Access and Publisher which are not included in this version of Office 2013.
I'm not a fan of change for change's sake and one of the things I notice about software is that every time I install an upgrade the layout changes (I guess to make me think I'm getting something new), but the functionality remains pretty much the same.
And that's exactly what seems to have happened here.
There's a complete re-design of the look of each window. Most of the colour has gone, it looks flat, it's difficult to locate icons because nothing stands out any more and there is no separation. I'm typing this in Word and because everything is white (document and ribbon) it's difficult to see where my document ends and the Ribbon stuff starts. The scroll bars are almost invisible and it all just blends together. All the other programs are just the same.
The appearance of this suite of programs is dreadful and I'm removing one star for that.
Then it took me a week to persuade Word to open up in a vaguely document shaped (portrait) format rather than the more useless letterboxy shape it seemed to prefer. Even now, a month later, it only gives me a narrow document so the first thing I have to do when I go into Word is resize the window. That's probably worth half a star.
This Office Suite seems to have been designed for use with Windows 8 on tablets and the like - though why anyone would want to use a word processor all day on a tablet I've no idea. This is a business suite used by companies in offices with proper PCs and proper keyboards. Designing for tablet functionality makes it less useful for the prime user base. I'm a writer, I need it to work on a PC at a desk with a proper keyboard.
There is also a pain in the neck page full of templates and other stuff every time you open Word, and Excel, and probably Powerpoint too. It's just really difficult to get to the stuff you want easily and efficiently. And if I want to open a file that isn't reasonably recent that's a several click process. My older version of word would remember where I last opened a file and take me back there when I wanted to open another. This version of word forgets so you have to start at the top and click down through all of your folders every single time. That's probably another half a star.
Word has also been turned into an e-Reader. I've got a Kindle App and an iBooks app on my iPad for that. I have no requirement for Word to do that. I write in word, and when I read it's generally proof reading for which I need editing facilities.
Apologies for focusing on Word, but it's the application that I use for several hours a day. I also make use of Excel and that just looks horrible but is pretty much the same as it was.
There are other little niggles and all in all the whole suite feels a bit buggy to me. Not enough to reduce its usability, just enough to be irritating.
Outlook works fine, but looks awful and there are some default setting changes that are just stupid - pale blue for the subject line - making it hard to read. Luckily if you want to waste several hours of your life on Google, you can find out how to change some of these defaults to make it look like it used to.
I much prefer Office 2007 in appearance and functionality, if you have that, or Office 2010, then it probably isn't worth the money for an upgrade.
I've had a bit of a moan because Microsoft go off and do what they want to do regardless of what its customers want and they deserve it.
That said I believe the Office Suite of programs to be the best out there. If you don't have Office then yes buy this. What it does is great and I've been an Office user since my first PC back in around 1997. I wouldn't use anything else. But this set of programs just looks dreadful and the wishy-washy appearance has actually taken away a lot of the pleasure for me when I use it.
For functionality alone it warrants 5 stars, but it's only going to get three because Microsoft have just lost touch with their user base with this implementation, and the new design is simply dreadful.