05 September 2013

A follow-up on Office 2013

Earlier this year I wrote a rather lengthy article about the changes in Office 2013. Back then the software on my PC was still in the preview phase, so some bugs and small issues were unavoidable. But have they been fixed in the final release? I was planning to write this follow-up for some time, so there it goes…

Office 2013 Theme selectionThe install process was a bit of a disappointment, as it required removing the preview version and installing everything fresh – thus loosing most of the settings and customizations. The most annoying part was evidently adding my email accounts in Outlook again. Otherwise some of the minor issues I noticed back then have been ironed out: the old Outlook icons have been updated to match the new style and the entire suite now has three color themes that make the flat ribbon more eye-friendly – I chose ‘Dark Grey’ from the beginning and never looked back. The theme selection is located in Backstage view under Account.

More importantly, a couple of weeks ago I discovered a fix for the annoying animations in Excel! It’s actually a system-level setting that can be disabled like this: go to the ‘Advanced System Settings’ (in Windows 7 use the search box in the Start menu and click on View advanced system settings in the Control Panel section), click on ‘Settings…’ in the Performance group and uncheck Animate controls and elements inside windows. It most likely impacts other programs and effects as well, but having a distraction-free experience in Excel is more important to me.

Turn Off Animation In Excel 2013

Office 2013 Upload pendingOn the other hand, syncing to SkyDrive is still not working reliably and starts misbehaving for no apparent reason. I can sort-of understand Office having problems with sync when the Internet connection is down, but I think this could be handled better than asking users to save the file to a different location or loose their work. If you start having multiple versions all over the hard drive, getting them in order again will be messy and time-consuming. The new version was supposed to help with that, not complicate matters further. I don’t understand why the software can’t just save the file in the SkyDrive folder and then sync it to the cloud when the connections is back on… Apart from this the sync utility can sometimes report upload problems with files even when they are actually correctly uploaded – and also bug you with the error message every time you boot up! Sometimes is helps to rename the file and wait for a new sync, otherwise you have to create and sync a new file just to force the error away. I find it very strange that the Office team hasn’t focused on making sync as smooth as possible, since they need it to catch up with their competitors and to market this to enterprises – they won’t be happy with poor reliability. Even if it’s still a new feature, it will certainly play a major role in the future of Office, so getting it to work 100% of the time should be the top priority.

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