It’s a beta, of course. Some things may change en route from unfinished product to final version (though not, one suspects, many). So how do I feel about this new version of Word?
Pretty positive I have to say. I write for a living. Long documents that need a lot of management. I spend hours in front of the computer each day and I don’t have the time or the temperament to relearn something I’ve already mastered.
Word 2013 is a radical overhaul of Microsoft’s word processing beast, but one that doesn’t demand you spend hours acclimatising to it. No, you’ll be doing that with Windows 8 from what I’ve seen.
A few fresh and agreeable features apart, the main difference between Word 2013 and its predecessor is visual. All that white and not a sign of colour of fake chrome anywhere. Does this work?
For me it does. I’ve spent the last two week using this beta as my main writing app, for both editing and fresh writing. What’s remarkable is the way it just falls into the background and lets me focus on what matters: the words. Some people have complained about the capital letters for the menus. Others about the lack of visual options and colour schemes.
They didn’t bother me at all. Word 2013 was a very easy transition, and after a while I simple forgot about it. What more can you ask of a piece of software?
Two things really bothered me though. In Word 2010 you can choose to edit in the reading view. This is incredibly useful for me. When I see a typo I can quickly correct it. In 2013 there is no editing option, so you have to switch to another view to type. This seems daft. I do hope they change it.
I was also disappointed by the use of ink. There’s a new ‘touch’ mode for tablets, which makes menus and things bigger. But not big enough for me. You can’t use ink in reading mode. It’s fiddly in any other view. You can’t scroll up and down the screen with two fingers as you can in OneNote (and this is pretty much essential on any tablet which doesn’t have physical page up, page down buttons, since the scroll bars, even in touch mode, are decidedly fiddly). It would be nice if those things were addressed in the final release.
My current working method is to write and develop in Scrivener on the Mac then pass over to Word on Windows for final revisions. I use the Mac for Scrivener out of habit mainly. Word on the Mac is a disaster, as I’ve said here before. And since Apple don’t seem much interested in updating their ancient Pages word processor the lack of a heavy duty general purpose Word-compatible writing app on OS X pretty much drives me to Windows.
With this I’m tempted to stay there. Windows has a decent version of Scrivener now if you want it. With OneNote, nicely updated too for 2013, there’s the option of approaching some projects entirely in Word and OneNote, writing in one, planning and doing research in the other.
Add in Skydrive and the coming Windows 8 tablets and this is starting to look like a dream system, one that can share documents across computers, tablets even phones without the hassle of synchronisation of worries about file formats.
That very much mirrors the way I work today. Word 2013 is about work. OS X, especially with the new rather pointless, for me anyway, Mountain Lion release is more and more about play. I’m definitely buying Office 2013 when it comes out. But I suspect the iMac desktop it will be running on in Boot Camp will be the last Mac I ever buy.