Office 2013. Should you upgrade?

I’ve been an early adopter of Microsoft’s programs for years. Yes, I upgraded to Vista on day one, I also upgraded to Windows 8 with the release of their RC for end users. Yet neither of those experiences compared to the upgrade to 2013 I made just a few short months ago. So sit back and relax and read about making the mistake I hope you never make!

Of course, due to my profession, I am often able to receive early upgrades to Microsoft programs. In the case of Office 2013 I was more than excited to give it a try. It had been several years since a major change in the program, in fact, the last big upgrade was from 2003 to 2007 – a healthy leap of 4 years. From 2007 to 2010 there was a minor upgrade, but nothing worth paying for. I was hoping for some great new features, a new visual experience, or even increased application speed. 2013 fulfilled none of my hopes and dreams! Microsoft focused this version of software on the “Windows 8″ look, which just doesn’t work for a traditional desktop.

Installation was decent and familiar. I decided to upgrade all my applications (I’m an all or nothing kind of guy) and take the plunge. I started playing around with Word and Excel, which both have drastically different looks to them. Both changed so much it was hard to adjust. And this is coming from a guy who never reads a manual, using new applications with no direction is what I was born to do. After fumbling around for a while I was able to determine what was needed for use and I was on my way.

As an IT Business Owner, email is my most widely used form of communication. On average, I receive anywhere from 250-500 emails per day (not including spam.) Outlook, by far, was the worst upgrade that I’ve ever seen. The biggest issue I had was the color scheme Microsoft chose. It was all the same level of bland grey and light blue. Unread and read emails blend together, and just finding emails were a pain. My Outlook data was cached but only “2 weeks back” per Microsoft’s default settings. So when I was looking for that quote I had sent last month, I had to “search the server” which took more time than I wanted. I could have just re quoted the order in the time it took to find what I was looking for. After I had made several changes I found the application usable, and I had actually used the program for about 5 months before I ran into an issue which gave me no choice but to revert back to Office 2010. Upon opening my email one day my OST (the file that my email is stored in) crashed and needed to be “repaired.” I figured this was a normal occurrence, maybe once a year it had happened to me before. So I thought nothing of it. About 30 minutes later the application was up, and I was back to working. Not more than an hour later my Email crashed, and the OST needed to be repaired again – this cost me another 30 minutes in repair time. This happened again several times throughout the rest of the week. It was simply inexcusable, at this point I decided to revert back to Office 2010 and never look back. I’m more than 110% happy with 2010 after going back and will wait until Microsoft unveils their next office.

From my experience Office 2013 isn’t worth the upgrade. It offers no additional functionality, no speed increase, and no new pretty user interface. Do yourself a favor and try and find a copy of Office 2010 on Amazon if you absolutely need it.