Microsoft overhauls Office suite for Windows 8, shows new cloud features and Ribbon UI

Microsoft Office 2012 Press Conference (image by CNET)

In a press conference moments ago, Microsoft showed off the newest version of Microsoft Office, its flagship productivity suite, which you may know for its apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. CEO Steve Ballmer introduced the new “modern Office” which has been designed as both a standard app you can buy or a service (Office 365) to which you can subscribe. The new version is built as a cloud-first and touch-first (yes, both) app. Social networking and Skype integration has also been added.

New Interface features

Ribbon UI: Many users rebelled years back when Microsoft introduced its “Ribbon UI” to the Office Suite, which reorganized all of the functionality into a fat ribbon of options that runs along the top of the screen. This UI is returning, but now it is minimized by default. To expand it, you tap on the ribbon you’d like to see. You can lock the ribbon in expanded mode if you’d like. Microsoft claims that this new Ribbon is “Ink” (stylus) and touch friendly. 

Presentation mode: In PowerPoint, OutLook, and other apps, the presenter can now see a simple set of options on his/her computer screen while still displaying a pure full-screen presentation to others. 

Reading mode: The new version of Microsoft Word will automatically resize text and pages to present a document in the best possible way, no matter what type of device you’re on. Video is playable directly from this mode as well. 

Quick Actions tab: Some basic functions will now be docked on the right side of the screen, like Delete or Forward, if you’re in Outlook.

Cloud Integration: Office is now extendable with some basic cloud-apps, like “suggested appointments” or Bing Maps integration. In addition, all documents will, by default, save to the cloud.

Microsoft Office OneNote radial menu

Windows 8 style applications: All Office Apps now look a lot like the new Windows 8 apps, but OneNote will be a full-screen Metro-style application (now called “Windows 8 Style”). Other Office Apps will look a bit like the new style of apps, but will actually be classic desktop apps. The OneNote app will have a new “Radial menu” that allows you to select options inside of a circle of choices. For those of you geeky enough to have played a recent Legend of Zelda game, you’ll understand this menu style instantly. Hardware manufacturers like Acer have played around with circular menus as well.

Images: You can search and insert pictures into Word documents. This is an old feature, but appears to be improved. 

Social: The new SharePoint looks like a little social network for your workplace. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Skype are now integrated.

Excel gets smart: Perhaps more exciting than the new Metro features is the new Excel, which appears to finally have gotten a bit smarter. The new version of Excel can now learn from what you do and separate blocks of pasted content into separate columns and rows. It’s difficult to describe, but it appears to more intelligently understand different groups of data inside a field.

The Modern Office

Microsoft Office 2012 "The Modern Office"

The verdict is still out on Windows 8. But in a worst-case scenario where it completely tanks, it doesn’t appear like it will take down Microsoft Office with it. Office looks more complex than any touch-first applications Microsoft has shown before, but on first glance, it also looks relatively usable on different types of devices, which is good since a basic Office suite will come with Windows RT tablets. If you’d like to try out Office 365, a Web version of Office, head to

Lead image courtesy of CNET


Your new PC may have shipped with an unsupported version of Windows 10

If you bought or are looking to buy a new Windows laptop or tablet this holiday season, be aware that it could have shipped with an unsupported operating system. The issue is caused by Microsoft pulling its October 2018 Update.

Convert your PDFs into convenient Word documents

PDF files are great, but few document types are as malleable as those specific to Microsoft Word. Here's how to convert a PDF file into a Word document, whether you prefer to use Adobe's software suite or a freemium alternative.

Here’s how to install Windows on a Chromebook

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so, just in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only…

Printing to PDF in Windows is easy, no matter which method you use

Microsoft's latest operating system makes it easier than ever to print to PDF in Windows, but there are alternative methods for doing so, even if you want to forgo Adobe Acrobat. Here's how.

These laptop bags will keep your notebook secure wherever you go

Choosing the right laptop bag is no easy feat -- after all, no one likes to second-guess themselves. Here are some of the best laptop bags on the market, from backpacks to sleeves, so you can get it right the first time around.

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts will update your OG Windows skills

Windows 10 has many new features, and they come flanked with useful new keyboard shortcuts. Check out some of the new Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts to improve your user experience.

iPhone users are finding themselves randomly locked out of their Apple ID

According to posts on Reddit and Twitter, it looks like users on Reddit and Twitter having some issues with their Apple accounts. Specifically, it seems as though users are getting randomly locked out of their Apple IDs.

Protecting your PDF with a password isn't difficult. Just follow these steps

If you need to learn how to password protect a PDF, you have come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the process of protecting your documents step-by-step, whether you're running a MacOS or Windows machine.

Don't know what to do with all your old DVDs? Here's how to convert them to MP4

Given today's rapid technological advancements, physical discs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Check out our guide on how to convert a DVD to MP4, so you can ditch discs for digital files.

Edit portraits with A.I. and adjust focus in the new ON1 Photo RAW 2019 editor

ON1 Photo RAW 2019 now has a dedicated tab for portraits that automatically recognizes faces to help with retouching. The update also brings a new focus stacking tool, enhancements to layers, and improvements to local adjustments.

Your MacBook can live in the lap of luxury with this leather case

Though there are several cases which we think are best for covering up MacBooks, Twelve South's Journal case is one of the newest available, providing luxurious leather coverage for your Apple laptop.

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.

15-inch MacBook Pro gets more powerful with new AMD Vega GPUs

Confirming Apple's quiet October announcement, new configurations for the top-range 15-inch Apple MacBook laptop are now available, coming complete with AMD Pro Vega 16 or Pro Vega 20 graphics cards on board.
Emerging Tech

Intel’s new ‘neural network on a stick’ aims to unchain A.I. from the internet

To kick off its first developer conference in Beijing, Intel unveiled the second generation of its Neural Compute Stick -- a device that promises to democratize the development of computer vision A.I. applications.