Microsoft late Thursday announced that development of Office 2013 is finished meaning the company will now focus on distributing the new version of Office to consumers and enterprises. The so-called Release to Manufacturing build will roll out to enterprise customers in November, and home users will see the new Office in early 2013. Microsoft also reiterated that a preview version of Office will be available on ARM-based Windows RT devices when Windows 8 launches on October 26. A final version for Windows RT devices is expected sometime between November and January.
If you're in the market for a new copy of Office, you'll want to wait until next Friday, October 19 to pick up Office 2010. After that date anyone who buys a boxed version of Office 2010 will receive a free upgrade to Office 2013. That's if you want to get Office the old-fashioned way. Most people will be using Office 2013 through a new consumer-grade version of Office 365, Microsoft's cloud-based subscription-based version of Office.
Office 365 Home Premium will let you download and install Office 2013 on up to five PCs including apps such as Access, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher, and Word 2013. You will also get 60 minutes of Skype calling and an extra 20GB of SkyDrive storage. Office 365 Home Premium will cost $100 per year (a little over $8 per month). You will still be able to purchase boxed versions of Office 2013, with Office Home and Student priced at $150. Office 2013 Home and Student does not include Outlook, Publisher, and Access, or the ability to install Office on multiple devices.
If you're not near one of your PCs, but still need the full power of Office, an Office 365 subscription also lets you use Office on Demand. This new service allows you to run a temporary, virtualized copy of Office on a PC without requiring a full install. Office on Demand only downloads the essential bits you need to use the app and new functionality is delivered as you need it. Microsoft says you can be using an app via Office on Demand in less than a minute, depending on your connection speed. Office on Demand only works if you stay connected to the Internet while you use the service.
One unanswered question is whether Microsoft plans to bring Office 2013 to Android and iOS devices. Earlier this week, it seemed like Office would land on the two mobile operating systems when a Microsoft official in the Czech Republic reportedly said that Office on Android and iOS would debut during the first quarter of 2013. Microsoft quickly released a statement saying the claims of Office on Android and iOS were not accurate. Nevertheless, rumors keep popping up that Microsoft is planning mobile versions of Office for non-Windows systems. Windows watcher Paul Thurrotton Thursday claimed the Android and iOS versions are set for release in April, the beginning of the year's second quarter, and will be available via Office subscription plans.
Microsoft in July released a preview version of Office 2013 that you can