What’s New for Developers with Office 2013

This week Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled the customer preview of the new Microsoft Office, available at office.com/preview. The next release features an intuitive design that works beautifully with touch, stylus, mouse or keyboard across new Windows devices, including tablets. The new Office is social and unlocks modern scenarios in reading, note-taking, meetings and communications and will be delivered to subscribers through a cloud service that is always up to date.

For details about the announcement, see Microsoft unveils the new Office.

The preview also provides developers with a look at a way to develop application for the Web and for on premises Office using a common API. See What's new for Office 2013 developers.

Office at Its Best on Windows 8

First a quick summary of that is in Office 2013,

  • Touch everywhere. Office responds to touch as naturally as it does to keyboard and mouse. Swipe your finger across the screen or pinch and zoom to read your documents and presentations. Author new content and access features with the touch of a finger.

  • Inking. Use a stylus to create content, take notes and access features. Handwrite email responses and convert them automatically to text. Use your stylus as a laser pointer when presenting. Color your content and erase your mistakes with ease.

  • New Windows 8 applications. OneNote and Lync represent the first new Windows 8 style applications for Office. These applications are designed to deliver touch-first experiences on a tablet. A new radial menu in OneNote makes it easy to access features with your finger.

  • Included in Windows RT. Office Home and Student 2013 RT, which contains new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote applications, will be included on ARM-based Windows 8 devices, including Microsoft Surface.

New for Developers

Office 2013 Preview brings the web to Office client applications. The web enables a wealth of exciting, new scenarios and solutions in a dynamic web application development environment. You can now use dynamic languages, such as Python, PHP, Perl, and JavaScript, and web development tools such as Microsoft Visual Studio 11 Beta for app development.

The same code that you write for your Web application is also used in your on premises Office applications. You add web-based features to the Office applications by using apps for Office (formerly code-named "Agave").

Bringing the web to Office applications

The Office 2013 Preview application development platform is based on a common API for web-based development. This is made possible by the large number of common objects that Office can read, write, and establish bindings to.

Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is still supported for individual Office 2013 Preview application development.

Office Store

Office 2013 Preview provides an Office Store for Microsoft Office solutions. The Office Store can be used to buy solutions for an organization. Organizations will also have the option for an internal store known as the App Catalog. The App Catalog provides a central location for all corporate solutions, whether developed internally or externally. This enables IT to manage and monitor solutions from a central location, and makes it easy for users to find solutions.

Apps for Office

Apps for Office enable a new extensibility model for supported Office 2013 Preview client applications. This new model is designed to enable web developers to easily create web-based solutions that extend Office client applications. An app for Office is essentially a webpage that can be hosted inside an Office client application to provide extended content or functionality within a document, hosted in a task pane that is associated with the client application, or activated contextually in an email message.

Apps for Office consist of a Manifest XML file and a webpage.

Basic components of an App for Office

Apps for Office provide a new way to extend Office client applications through standard web technologies like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and REST.

Each Office application, Word, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, Visio allows you to extend its functionality. Options for Apps for Office:

  • A task pane app for Office will enable Office users to see an extension side-by-side with an Office document. For example, enabling users to look up information from a web service based on a product name highlighted in a document.

  • Content app for Office will enable webpages to become part of a document as embedded content that can be shown within documents. For example, you could integrate a YouTube video clip or a picture gallery.

  • Mail app for Office works with Outlook 2013 Preview and OWA, and enables you to display content with a particular mail or calendar item.

For more information about apps for Office, see Overview of apps for Office.


Bruce D. Kyle
Technical Evangelist | Microsoft Corporation


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