Microsoft Office 2013 Crosses RTM Threshold

By David H. Ringstrom, CPA

Microsoft Office 2013 has crossed an important threshold referred to in the industry as Release to Manufacturing (RTM). This means the Office development team has finalized the flagship suite and formal beta testing is now complete.

Unlike Windows 8, which has a formal release date of October 26, 2012, Microsoft continues to be cagey regarding a shipment date for Office 2013. Presently, Microsoft assures general availability in first quarter 2013. Starting in November 2012, select customer groups will receive final versions of Office 2013. In the interim, anyone can download and install a free, but time-limited version of Office 2013 from . This beta version can be installed alongside existing Office software, such as Office 2007 or 2010.

As noted in one of my previous articles , Office 2013 will formally adopt open document standards. This means spreadsheets, word processing documents, etc., that are created in Office 2013 can be opened without issue in competing office suites, such as the freely available OpenOffice .

Office 2013 also heralds a sea change with regard to pricing . Microsoft is implementing a “subscribe and pay less, or buy shrink-wrapped and pay more” approach to this new version.

Other new features include: 
  • Touch-enabled support under Windows 8, although the software will also run on Windows 7. Windows XP users will not be able to install Office 2013.
  • A rejiggering of the File menu in most Office applications, although the ribbon interface introduced in Office 2007 remains largely intact.
  • Cloud integration, such as the ability to seamlessly save and retrieve documents to Microsoft's Skydrive service.
  • Tablet-enabled versions of Office for Windows RT devices (formerly known as Windows on ARM devices).

Each application will sport individual improvements as well. For example, Excel 2013 includes a Recommended Pivot Table feature to help users visualize data summaries. A Flash Fill feature fills in gaps within data based on pattern recognition. A new Recommended Charts guides users through telling a story in graph form. A compelling feature within Word 2013 is the ability to edit PDF documents, while a Resume Reading feature automatically bookmarks where you last left a document. PowerPoint has a new Slide Zoom feature that allows you to zoom in and out within individual slides. Outlook will offer a new Weather Bar that will show the weather forecast within your calendar.

Customers purchasing Office 2010 on or after October 19, 2012, will receive Office 2013 at no charge when it becomes available.

A previous version of this article first appeared on .
About the author:

David H. Ringstrom, CPA heads up Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based software and database consulting firm providing training and consulting services nationwide. Contact David at  or follow him on Twitter. David speaks at conferences about Microsoft Excel, and presents webcasts for several CPE providers, including AccountingWEB partner CPE Link