Apple better look out: Microsoft Windows 8 and Office 2013 are fantastic

Click to see my Windows 8 Start screen

[Looking for info on Office 2013 performance in a virtual machine? Check out this post.]

It’s been about a week since I upgraded my Lenovo ThinkPad T410 and MacBook Air (mid-2011) to Windows 8 and Office 2013. (On the MBA, I run Office 2013 in Parallels virtual machines under both Windows 7 and Windows 8, though the latter has become my favorite).

My bottom line? Look out Apple: Microsoft has done some seriously brilliant work on both products. I wonder how long it will be before people start doing what I’ve done here: posting their Windows 8 Start screens to see who has the coolest arrangement (as you can see from mine, I went for “out-of-the box”).

I love Windows 8 for one reason: the Windows key. I’ve always been a keyboard guy. I think the time you spend learning keyboard shortcuts is paid back thousands of times over the ensuring years you use the system by not having to lose time reaching for a mouse. And in Windows 8, the Windows key has finally “arrived.” Even though I spend 95% of my time on the Desktop, when I need to search for something, BAM! I hit the Windows key, start typing, and because Windows 8 usually displays what I want at the top of the list, all I have to do is hit the enter key. The other 5% of the time, I am in the gorgeous Bing app or News app. The two UIs (Start and Desktop) just “hang together” perfectly, something you would have had a hard time convincing me of until I tried it.

Office 2013 shows the “fit and finish” of a German luxury car. From the stark, flat design to the very cool cursor animation, people like me who spend their working lives in Office are in for a treat. The stuff you remember is all there — and somehow while getting rid of excess chrome, Microsoft made the visual experience so much better. Office 365 Exchange servers set up in exactly the same way as Gmail in Outlook 2013. Outlook 2013 finally allows you to order your folders. And in the most useful thing Outlook has done in at least a decade, you can reply to a message directly from the inbox. It’s hard to describe how much better Word, PowerPoint and Excel look — and how much the new eye candy makes using them easier.

Microsoft has taken an enormous bet with Windows 8 and Office 2013. Some will say it’s desperation to keep the PC relevant. But even if that’s true, it doesn’t come through in the products. Once people really get their hands on these two new products, I think Microsoft will begin to change the minds of people who thought that they couldn’t innovate or that PCs are toast. After a week or so using Win8 and Office 2013, my iOS 6 iPhone UI looks SO tired.





8 responses to “Apple better look out: Microsoft Windows 8 and Office 2013 are fantastic”

  1. […] (Believe it or not, they’ve actually made things worse. While everyone else — even Microsoft is producing lovely apps today — FiOS still promotes an early Soviet-style look and lack of functionality that one day […]

  2. […] lately. I’ve been impressed by Windows 8 (which the critics seem to loathe) and, especially, Office 2013, which is just now hitting the general […]

  3. Alfred Avatar

    The “Windows” key, i.e., the SEARCH key, has been present since Office 2007. That’s old news.

    1. Alex Neihaus Avatar
      Alex Neihaus

      True enough. But over time, the Windows key has become much more useful. In Windows 8, Win-D for the desktop and Windows-X for a pop-up of common command along with Windows-X for settings are, as far as I know, new.

      Compare the increasing usefulness of the Windows key to the rigor mortis of the PrtScrn key. As far as I know, it does only one thing, which it has been doing since Windows NT: copy the screen to the clipboard.

  4. limeduck Avatar

    I’m very impressed with the metro UI but haven’t had any hands-on time with it yet. I will, however, predict that Alex’s love affair with Windows 8 will get messy with the touchscreen version. We all know how Alex is about people touching his screen…

    1. Alex Neihaus Avatar
      Alex Neihaus

      Sheesh…I am both flattered and surprised that limeduck remembers this about me. Yup, I hate screen fingerprints — especially when they aren’t from me. I also abhor “shared” keyboards. It’s not about being germophobic — I just don’t like sharing other people’s fingers.

      Here at Zixi, people have begun to kid me about this very foible. And, yes, I’ll tell the world my secret: I keep alcohol wipes in my briefcase. Go on, give it a try — clean your monitor one day with one of those and see how much better everything looks. Why spend hours a day looking through a (filmy) looking glass?

      It’s one of those things that seems perfectly normal to me but seems to stick in people’s minds when they think about me — hopefully, in a warm, humorous way.

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