Microsoft has released a free Consumer Preview of Office 2013. We explain its features and how to download, install and use it
Microsoft is best known for producing Windows but it is also the company behind Office – the most popular office suite in the world, that incorporates Word, Excel, Powerpoint and more. The latest version – Office 2013 – is due to be released later this year but while the date and price have yet to be revealed, Microsoft has made a preview edition publically available for anyone to try, free.
Office 2013 is not completed software, so it should be approached with caution. We will explain the pitfalls we have discovered but if something goes wrong, complain to Microsoft. We will also offer a fly-by tour of some of the suite’s new tools and features.
Before downloading and installing Office 2013, you should take the time to back up your PC, or at the very least your existing Office documents. In theory, it should be possible to uninstall Office 2013 and revert to any previous installed version, and there should be no problem running this alongside an older version of Office.
However, problems may arise: on one of our test PCs, uninstalling Office 2013 resulted in the previous version of Office (2003) needing to be repaired using that version’s original installation disc. In short, if this if you are uncomfortable about doing this, or worry about the prospect of losing all your settings, this workshop may not be for you.
Alternatively, if you already have a version of Office installed and don’t fancy the idea of completely replacing it with a preview of the 2013 version (and we wouldn’t blame you), then consider installing this preview editing in a ‘virtual’ PC. Using Virtualbox or VMware Player it’s possible to create a Windows PC that exists only in software, running within a Windows window.
Install a second copy of Windows onto this and then it can be used as a test environment for software such as Office 2013, removing all worry about damaging your current PC setup.
However, if you’re keen to proceed right away, visit the Office 2013 Consumer Preview download page.
Click the Sign up link to the lower right of the page and then click Try now. In order to download a copy of the Office 2013 Preview edition you need a Microsoft account (or Windows Live ID). If you already have a Hotmail or Live email address, type it along with your password in the Sign In section of the page; if you need to create a new account, click the Sign up button and follow the instructions.
Office can be installed on up to five computers using the same Microsoft ID. To get started, click the green Install button. If using Internet Explorer, you will be prompted to run or save the installer – similar options are displayed in other web browsers as well – and the quickest option is to click Run, as this will start the installation almost immediately. If the User Account Control dialogue box appears click Yes; there will be a slight delay while the installation gets under way.
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