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Consider these facts. More than 1.2 billion people use Microsoft Office. These users are scattered across more than 140 countries. In all, that means about one in six people around the world and three-quarters of all countries regularly open a Microsoft Word or Microsoft Outlook program.

Those numbers about Microsoft Office tell the tale of a dominate software option that has truly become the most important set of programs available around the world.

There are plenty of reasons for this, some of which are highlighted below, but above all, the reason is because Microsoft Office stands for quality. Every program included is world famous for its capabilities.

If you are looking for a set of programs to handle all of your major computer needs, more than 1.2 billion people have decided there’s nothing that competes with Microsoft Office.

And if you’re looking to choose a great Microsoft Office edition, there are few that can stack up with 2013.

What Is Microsoft Office?

Before getting too focused on the details, it’s worth taking a moment to break down just what Microsoft Office is. This is a set of programs that are designed to work together to handle all your basic software needs for work, study, and home computer usage. The names of the programs are as famous as Microsoft Office itself: Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft Outlook, just to name a few. The programs included in Microsoft Office address your word processing, spreadsheeting, chart and graph creation, presentation, note taking, emailing, scheduling, databasing, and professional publication needs.

Office has been the predominate choice for households and businesses for decades, going back to the suite’s original release in 1988. Over the years, the programs have remained consistently popular with each new release.

Why Microsoft Office Remains So Popular Worldwide

But just why are these programs so popular? Why do so many people continue to rely so heavily on Microsoft Office?

There are many reasons for this, but here we can focus on just a few. So, to begin with, there is the Microsoft Office reputation. Microsoft has hardly made a single misstep in its Office releases over more than thirty years. The programs have consistently included all the latest features with the best interface around that makes it easy to find and use even the most advanced tools. That kind of reliability and stability has earned Office the trust of huge numbers of people. There simply hasn’t been a release with that kind of success to compare it to.

At the same time, Office programs are designed to handle all your basic computer needs and to work closely together all at once. With a single purchase, most users have all the programs they’ll need for their work, their studies, or their home usage.

Finally, Office programs remain the trend setters in every single area of their focus. While there are plenty of word processing programs out there, the one that sets the standard for every new generation is always Microsoft Word. All other programs play catch up.

So why waste money on programs that don’t have the same history of success, the same ability to work closely together, and all the latest features? Most people wouldn’t waste their money. That’s why they go with Microsoft Office.

What Users Can Expect from Microsoft Office 2013

Microsoft Office is obviously an excellent option, but which edition should you choose? There are plenty of recent editions that remain viable choices for all your computing needs.

This suite is packed full of new features that provide a more attractive interface and more advanced modern tools that provide users with the ability to work more effectively.

On the visual side, there’s a flatter looking ribbon with subtle animations now included. The start screen has been redesigned, while Word gets new graphical options and Outlook’s scheduling has new visualization.

More importantly, though, there are new tools integrated into programs. Of greatest importance is the introduction of the OneDrive cloud, which allows users to save, retrieve, and share documents from anywhere. There are also new touch capabilities that make it easier to work from phones and tablets.

Another nice feature is the ability of programs like Word and PowerPoint to bookmark a point in a document that the document will then open to one different computers.

A final useful addition is the integration of communication tools such as Skype and Yammer that bring new levels of collaboration potential to the programs.

Microsoft Office Programs

There are many programs that can come with different Microsoft Office 2013 editions. To get a better understanding of what each program offers before reviewing which programs are included in each suite, read through the following section.

Microsoft Word 2013

Certainly the most famous of all the famous Office programs, Microsoft Word is the one-stop word processing option that is preferred by most computer users. The reason Word stands out so much is because of its simple layout that contains so much potential thanks to the vast set of tools included.

With Word, it’s easy to layout any kind of document you need, from an essay with footnotes, to a resume, to a calendar, to business cards, to a birthday card. At the same time, documents can track changes to cover what has changed in the document and advanced spell and grammar checkers can work in English and dozens of other languages. Many basic errors are corrected by Word even as you type.

Beyond these copious capabilities, there are plenty of visual features can be added in whenever necessary. These include charts and graphs (either designed in Word or moved over from Excel), images, and much more.

Microsoft Excel 2013

After Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel is certainly the most popular program offered in Office, particularly for businesses. It allows users to gather together all their data, run advanced calculations, create graphs, and otherwise organize and interpret data. This data can be as simple as grocery expenses for the year to as complex as tracking business expenses.

Microsoft PowerPoint 2013

It’s doubtful that there are many people left in the world who haven’t watched a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation. The reason for its popularity is because the program is easy to use and capable of creating entertaining and informative slideshows that bring together slide animations, transitions, video, audio, text, and images, all so that information can be varied and engaging at every step.

Recent improvements allow presentations to work in presenter mode, which puts slides on a timer so the presenter no longer has to click through the slides. Templates and themes also make it possible to more easily create dynamic presentations, even for beginners.

Microsoft OneNote 2013

Whether it’s employees attending meetings or students in class, it’s important to be able to take notes that get beyond the traditional pen and paper approach. As information becomes more digital, users need a digital note taking option. And that’s exactly what they get with Microsoft OneNote. Here, users can bring together different kinds of media in a single notepad, including video, audio, text, drawings, images, web links, and more.

Reviewing notes are then more engaging, better organized, and more thorough, since they coordinate with information as it was presented.

Microsoft Outlook 2013

Business communication requires a lot of organization. Microsoft Outlook provides for all the extra details. It has a well-organized inbox, as well as scheduling, calendars, contacts, and tasks all able to be organized and updated as needed.

Recent Outlook editions also allow users to bring together all email accounts, so that a Gmail or Yahoo account can coexist within Outlook with the Outlook email address. With scheduling and contacts integrated into the email, it’s easy to transition between conversations and upcoming events to make sure everything is perfectly synced.

Microsoft Publisher 2013

A bit more of a specialized program (which is why it comes only with the most elite Microsoft Office editions), Microsoft Publisher provides the ability to create and print professional level documents, from newsletters, to calendars, to business cards.

It’s perhaps easiest to think of Publisher as a high-end Word, with all the features related to creating documents more advanced. If Word’s focus is on text, Publisher is focused on presentation.

Microsoft Access 2013

Just as Publisher is the high-end Word, so Microsoft Access is the high-end Excel. This program is designed to handle vast databases for businesses. Businesses often work with thousands or even millions of individual data points when it comes to sales and expenses. With such a vast amount of information, a more advanced program is required to handle all that organization and analysis. With Access, most businesses are able to get all that data organization they need without the expense of outside servers or more costly software.

How to Choose the Right Microsoft Office 2013 Suite For Your Needs

When choosing your Microsoft Office 2013 suite, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. First, this edition is only available for PCs, so Mac users have to either go back to the 2011 release or look at Office 2016 or Office 365.

Second, there are a few different versions available, each with its own specific program options. The versions are listed below.

Home & Student

The most basic option. This is for studying or at home use. It includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

Home & Business

The next level up, for at-home business, small business, and freelancers. All of the above Home & Student programs are included, plus Outlook.

Professional

For more advanced businesses. Professional comes with everything Home & Business, plus Publisher and Access.

Professional Plus

Designed only for larger businesses, Professional Plus has the Professional program, plus a couple higher end programs as well, including InfoPath and Lync.

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