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Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) previewed the next version of its Office Suite on Monday with all functions optimized for touch and increased cloud integration. The company is releasing a customer preview for users to try out the software, but did not provide a full release date. The new programs in Office 2013, including Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, have been built with the ribbon interface, with visual indications and graphics.
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The new versions of programs in the suite, which was designed specifically for the company’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system, allow a user to swipe across documents in Word and presentations in PowerPoint. A user can also pinch and zoom around the documents, while the new Outlook includes the ability to instant message.
Facing competition from Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Drive and Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iCloud integration, the suite is also being integrated with Microsoft’s online storage system, SkyDrive. It will have the ability to sync a user’s files, settings, and templates across several devices, including laptops, tablets, and Windows Phone smartphones. Microsoft will also offer new editions of Office 365, its cloud-based versions of the software.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is also integrating Skype and Yammer, its brand-new acquisition that offers a private social network for businesses, into the new suite, chief executive Steve Ballmer announced at an event in San Francisco. In addition, Bing Maps will be part of the new Outlook email program. The suite has also a received a social makeover, with “people cards” letting a user save and see information about contacts and bring in activity feeds from Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) accounts.
“This is the most ambitious release of Office that we have ever done,” Ballmer said.
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