We hunt out the best tech deals on the web right now
Microsoft unveils the new Office Customer Preview
Microsoft have taken the wraps off the new cloud-powered Office Customer Preview at a mystery announcement in San Francisco.
"It feels to us a lot like '95."
Today's new Office announcement marks an "exciting and vibrant time" for Microsoft.
Ballmer sets the scene with gusto - touching upon an already busy year that has seen major reveals from the likes of Windows 8, Microsoft Surface, Windows Phone 8, Xbox (Smart glass, Internet Explorer), acquisitions (Yammer), and a new version of Bing to name but a few.
A new generation of Microsoft Office
In their own words Office is something of a flagship product for Microsoft. This new version of Office will present the same boldness and beauty that's evident in Windows 8 and Microsoft's future design philosophies.
Ballmer: "The most ambitious release of Microsoft Office that we've ever done".
The next release features an intuitive design that works beautifully with touch, stylus, mouse or keyboard across new Windows devices, including tablets.
Corporate VP Kirk Koenigsbauer talks new Office.
Your new modern Office
The new Office is social and unlocks modern scenarios in reading, note-taking, meetings and communications and will be delivered to subscribers through a cloud service that is always up to date.
It will also embrace Windows RT on Surface and deliver an excellent experience in Windows Phone 8.
New versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote applications, will be included on ARM-based Windows 8 devices (including Microsoft Surface).
Microsoft Office has been designed with cloud in mind. As such it will have a "cloud first" philosophy, unsurprisingly Microsoft's own SkyDrive service will play a major role.
The modern office embraces annotation - taking notes, and drawing will all be made possible with great ease.
Microsoft has extended the new user experience across the whole Office suite of products. All of the Office products are touch ready.
The new radial menu in action.
Those in attendance were treated to demos of new versions of Word, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Lync and PowerPoint.
PowerPoint introduced slick animations and transitions. An innovative new presentation mode (including stop-watch and timer) was also shown.
Everybody's favourite email client introduces the "Quick actions" tab and new functionality like "Peeks" and Bing Maps. For the first time you'll be able to navigate maps from inside your Outlook inbox.
Microsoft OneNote features support for pen and stylus - making annotation a breeze. Say hello to the "Radial menu" - easily format your document on the fly, a simple and intuitive dial that allows you to quickly cycle through different options. To change your font size Kirk describes the action like a speedometer.
New layout modes including "reading mode" - in which Word will resize to the size of that device, providing you with the best view to suit your experience.
Presence enabled in comments - easily see which of your contacts have left amends or messages in the document itself.
Play videos directly from documents - in the example we are shown how easy it is to embed an online video. Very slick. Resize images with live previews. Drag the image around the page and instantly see how it looks.
SkyDrive is incredibly fundamental to this version of Office. No matter what you are working on or where you may be, your Office documents will always be there. Being connected to the cloud means that your settings and profiles follow you across devices.
One of the most useful new features in Excel is "Flash fill" - this intelligently fills the entire column all the way down.
Skype is directly integrated in this new version of Office. It offers a simple and intuitive new way of making video calls from within your Office software.
For business and enterprise there is also a wealth of new features. For instance SharePoint will helpfully suggest documents that may be of interest on your work network.
Effortlessly stream online videos within your documents.
Try it today
The new version of Microsoft Office is available to download now to preview. As with Windows 8 a Customer Preview can be downloaded freely for evaluation purposes. Download New Office.