What's new for IT professionals in Office 2013


Applies to: Office 2013, Office 365 ProPlus

Summary: Discover the new features that are in Office 2013.

Audience: IT Professionals

Office 2013 provides new features and improvements that help IT administrators configure, validate, deploy, and protect their Office installations. This article describes some changes in these areas.

In this article:

  • Access 2013: new application model

  • Active Directory-based activation

  • Apps for Office

  • Click-to-Run

  • Click-to-Run customization

  • Co-Authoring

  • Downloadable proofing tool packages

  • New Group Policy and OCT settings

  • New Visio 2013 file format

  • Office Telemetry Dashboard and Office Telemetry Log

  • Office Web Apps

  • Office Web Apps Server

  • OneDrive for Business

  • Security changes

  • Sign-in IDs

  • Additional resources

Access 2013: new application model

The on-premises version of Access 2013 provides a new application model that uses SharePoint 2013 for hosting and SQL Server for data storage.

Access as a SharePoint app

Access 2013 is now an app for SharePoint, which means that you create Access web apps that run in the browser, and can manage Access as you would any SharePoint app, controlling everything centrally by using SharePoint tools. No additional passwords or logins are required because security is controlled through the same SharePoint infrastructure. Users can discover and share Access apps through the public SharePoint App Store or a private App Catalogue. They can use your app as long as they have a web browser and an Internet connection. Access does not have to be installed on users’ devices.

In addition, Access 2013 can open databases created in previous Access versions.

For more information about the new Access 2013 application model, see “New application model” in What's new for Access 2013 developers.

For more information about how to manage SharePoint 2013 apps, see Install and manage apps for SharePoint 2013.

SQL Server back end

If you create an app on a SharePoint Server that your company hosts on premises, Access creates the database in the SQL Server 2012 installation that is selected by the SharePoint administrator. This database stores all the objects and data that your application requires, such as tables, queries, macros, and forms. Whenever users visit the app, enter data, or change the design, they will be interacting with this database behind the scenes. The database created is specific to your app and is not shared with other apps.

SQL Server storage allows for speed, reliability, and scalability of the database long-term. In addition, advanced users can connect directly to the SQL Server database for advanced reporting and analysis with familiar tools such as Excel, Power View, and Crystal Reports.

For more information, see Access 2013 and SQL Server.

More new features

Although these new features are not necessarily targeted to IT Professionals, you should be aware of them.

Access in Office 365

Access 2013 is also available in Office 365. If your Office 365 plan includes SharePoint, Microsoft can host your Access 2013 databases in the cloud. When you create an Access app in Office 365, your data is stored in a SQL Azure database. For more information about Office 365, see Office 365 Small Business Premium or Office 365 Enterprise.

New user features

Access 2013 provides new features that will help users perform tasks faster, and with more efficiency and flexibility. For information about these features, see What’s new in Access 2013.

Active Directory-based activation

Active Directory-based activation is a new volume activation method for Office 2013. To work, the computer that runs Office 2013 must be joined to an Active Directory domain that is configured to support this new type of volume activation.

Active Directory-based activation is supported only on computers that run Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, or Windows Server 2012 R2.

For more information, see Active Directory-based activation of Office 2013.


You can still choose to use Key Management Service (KMS) or Multiple Activation Key (MAK) to do volume activations of Office 2013.

Apps for Office

Developers use apps for Office to create engaging new consumer and enterprise experiences that run within supported Office 2013 applications by using the power of the web and standard web technologies such as HTML5, XML, CSS3, JavaScript, and REST APIs.

An app for Office is basically a webpage that is hosted inside an Office client application. You can use an app for Office to extend the functionality of a document, email message, or appointment. The apps in apps for Office can run in multiple environments and clients. These include rich Office desktop clients, Office Online, mobile browsers, and also on-premises and in the cloud. Developers can publish apps for Office to the Office Store or to an onsite catalog, where they can be available to users from their Office 2013 applications. As the IT Administrator of your organization, you can control how the apps for Office become available to users.

For more information, see Overview of apps for Office 2013.


Office 2013 Click-to-Run is a technology that reduces the time that is required to download and use Office 2013 client products. Click-to-Run is based on core Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) technologies.

Click-to-Run virtualization provides the following advantages:

  • Isolation of resources in a virtual environment allows for coexistence with earlier versions of Office, and improves cleanup and restore processes.

  • Extension points to the computer are published so Office is more integrated. This allows for add-ins to be written.

For more information about Click-to-Run, see Overview of Click-to-Run (Office 2013) and Overview of Click-to-Run for Office 365 setup architecture.

Click-to-Run customization

Administrators can customize Click-to-Run product installations. Click-to-Run for Office 365 provides a downloadable Office Deployment Tool for Click-to-Run that enables administrators to download Click-to-Run for Office 365 product and language sources to an on-premises location. This is useful in scenarios where administrators want to minimize the demand on the network or want to prevent users from installing from the Internet because of corporate security requirements.

You can download the Office Deployment Tool from the Microsoft Download Center site. The download includes a sample Configuration.xml configuration file. To customize an installation, administrators run the Office Deployment Tool and provide a customized Configuration.xml file. The Office Deployment Tool performs the tasks that are specified by using the optional properties in the Configuration.xml configuration file.

For more information about the Office Deployment Tool for Click-to-Run, see Overview: Office Deployment Tool, Reference: Configuration options for the Office Deployment Tool, Reference: Download Click-to-Run for Office 365 products by using the Office Deployment Tool, and Deploy Office 365 ProPlus from a local source.


Co-authoring simplifies collaboration by enabling multiple users to work productively on the same document without intruding on one another’s work or locking out other users. This capability requires no additional server setup and is the default status for documents that are stored in SharePoint 2013 document libraries.

Here are some changes in co-authoring for Office 2013.

  • Co-authoring is now supported in Visio Professional 2013, Word Web App, and PowerPoint Web App.

  • Seeing other editors who join the document to co-author is faster in Word 2013, Excel 2013, PowerPoint 2013, and Visio Professional 2013.

  • Updates are faster when multiple users co-author in the same OneNote page.

Users who co-author also benefit from these changes in Office Web Apps, Office 2013, and SharePoint 2013.

  • Users can view, add, and reply to comments in Word Web App and PowerPoint Web App.

  • Users can open Word files that contain revision marks in Word Web App.

  • Users can easily set document permissions and send sharing notifications by using the Share with People feature in Office 2013 and SharePoint 2013.

For more information about co-authoring, see Overview of co-authoring in SharePoint 2013 and How Office Web Apps work on-premises with SharePoint 2013.

Downloadable proofing tool packages

Beginning in Office 2013, free downloadable proofing tool packages in 52 languages are available to all customers who have purchased the on-premises (MSI-installed) version of Office 2013, whether or not they are volume license customers. You can download these proofing tool packages in 32-bit or 64-bit versions from Office Proofing Tools. For more information, see Downloadable proofing tool packages in Companion proofing languages for Office 2013.

New Group Policy and OCT settings

The Office 2013 Administrative Template files (ADMX/ADML) and Office Customization Tool download package contains all Group Policy Administrative Template (ADMX/ADML) and Office Customization Tool (OPAX/OPAL) files for installations of Office 2013 (Windows installer-based) and Office 365 ProPlus (Click-to-Run).

For information about the settings that are new, see the related Group Policy Administrative Template files (ADMX, ADML) and Office Customization Tool (OCT) files for Office 2013 article.

For information about how to use Group Policy, see Overview of Group Policy for Office 2013.

For information about how to use the OCT, see Office Customization Tool (OCT) reference for Office 2013.

New Visio 2013 file format

Visio 2013 introduces an XML-based file format to provide new capabilities in Visio. These new capabilities include co-authoring and improved interoperability with other applications. New file formats and file name extensions are used for drawings (.vsdx, .vsdm), templates (.vstx, .vstm), and stencils (.vssx, .vssm). To help users transition from the old format to the new, Visio 2013 provides several compatibility features, such as Compatibility mode, a conversion option, and Compatibility Checker. You can use Group Policy Administrative Templates to control which Visio file formats are used by default.

You can learn more about the new VSDX file format in What IT Pros need to know about the new VSDX file format in Visio 2013.

The Microsoft Visio 2013 Viewer is now available so that users can open .vsdx, .vsdm, .vsd, .vdx, .vdw, .vstx, .vstm, .vst, or .vtx files by using Internet Explorer. You can download the viewer from the Microsoft Download Center.

The Microsoft Visio Compatibility Pack lets Visio 2010 users open files that are created in the newer Visio 2013 drawing file format (files that have a .vsdx and .vsdm extension). You can download it from the Microsoft Download Center.

Telemetry Dashboard and Telemetry Log

Office 2013 introduces a new application and document compatibility tool, known as Telemetry Dashboard. It replaces the Office 2010 compatibility tools Office Migration Planning Manager (OMPM), Office Code Compatibility Inspector (OCCI), and Office Environment Assessment Tool (OEAT). Telemetry Dashboard helps speed up Office 2013 deployments by reducing the overall time that is needed for migration planning and compatibility assessment. IT Professionals can use Telemetry Dashboard to identify typically used Office documents and solutions in their organizations and to view application events and crash data for select Office 2013 applications.

A companion tool for Telemetry Dashboard, known as Telemetry Log, is designed for developers and expert users who want to view event data for documents and solutions as they load, run, or raise errors in Office 2013. Telemetry Log shows local event data, whereas Telemetry Dashboard combines this event data for multiple client computers.

For more information, see the following articles:

Office Web Apps

When used with SharePoint 2013 on-premises, Office Web Apps provides updated versions of Word Web App, Excel Web App, PowerPoint Web App, and OneNote Web App. Users can view and, depending on the current license, edit Office documents by using a supported web browser on computers and on different mobile devices, such as Windows Phones, iPhones, and iPads.

In addition to new features in Office Web Apps, the architecture and deployment methods have also changed. Office Web Apps is no longer tightly integrated with SharePoint. Instead, it is installed separately as part of Office Web Apps Server, a stand-alone Office server product. You no longer have to optimize the SharePoint infrastructure to support Office Web Apps, and you can apply updates to the servers that run Office Web Apps Server separately and at a different frequency than you update SharePoint.

For more information, see:

Office Web Apps Server

Office Web Apps Server is an Office server product that provides browser-based file viewing and editing functionality for Office files. Office Web Apps Server works together with products and services that support WOPI, the Web app Open Platform Interface protocol. These products, known as hosts, include SharePoint 2013, Lync Server 2013, and Exchange Server 2013. Here are some features that Office Web Apps Server enables for these products:

  • SharePoint 2013   Users can access Office files from SharePoint document libraries by using Word Web App, Excel Web App, PowerPoint Web App, and OneNote Web App. There are many new features and capabilities, such as support for co-authoring in Word Web App and PowerPoint Web App.

  • Lync Server 2013   Users can broadcast PowerPoint presentations by using Lync 2013 and Lync Web App. Broadcasting is improved to support higher-resolution displays and a wider range of mobile devices than in earlier versions. Users who have the appropriate privileges can scroll through a PowerPoint presentation independent of the presentation itself.

  • Exchange Server 2013   In Outlook Web App, all attachments in an email message are displayed in a filmstrip that includes a thumbnail of each attachment. Users can preview attachments online in full fidelity.

An Office Web Apps Server farm can provide Office services to multiple on-premises hosts. You can scale out the farm from one server to multiple servers as your organization’s needs grow. Although Office Web Apps Server requires dedicated servers that run no other server applications, you can install Office Web Apps Server on virtual machine instances.

Deploying and managing Office Web Apps Server across an organization is easier now that it is a stand-alone product. You can apply updates to the Office Web Apps Server farm separately and at a different frequency than you can when you update SharePoint Server, Exchange Server, or Lync Server. Having a stand-alone Office Web Apps Server farm also means that users can view or edit Office files that are stored outside SharePoint 2013, such as those in shared folders or in document management products that support WOPI.

For more information, see:

OneDrive for Business

OneDrive for Business is personal file storage and synchronization service for business use. Users store, access, and synchronize their files in SharePoint Online or SharePoint Server 2013 with their client workstation. In OneDrive for Business, synchronization is performed by the OneDrive for Business Windows Sync client, which is installed with Office 2013.

Some benefits of using OneDrive for Business include the following:

  • Users can take their documents offline with them and have them synchronize when they are online again.

  • Users' documents can be synchronized across all client devices and servers where the files are stored and synchronized.

  • Users can work from many locations, either online or offline, and work from many devices.

  • Multiple users (online or offline) can work on documents at the same time, and the OneDrive for Business Windows Sync client will synchronize the changes between the users. If there are conflicts, users are prompted to resolve the conflicts.

  • Users can share and collaborate on documents.

To learn more about OneDrive for Business, see Overview of OneDrive for Business in SharePoint Server 2013 and Plan for OneDrive for Business in SharePoint Server 2013.

Security changes

Several new security features make it easier for users and IT professionals to use and trust Office 2013 applications and documents. These include the following:

  • Authentication in Office   The days are over for providing a password multiple times as users conduct normal business, opening multiple Office files from different locations. Now users create a profile, sign in one time, and can seamlessly work on and access local and cloud Office files and not be required to re-identify themselves. Users can connect multiple services such as an organization’s OneDrive or a user’s personal OneDrive account, to their Office profiles and have instant access to all files and their associated storage. Users authenticate one time for all Office applications, including OneDrive. This is true regardless of the identity provider (Microsoft account and the user ID that you use to access Office 365) or the authentication protocol that is used by the application (for example, OAuth, forms based, claims based, or Windows Integrated Authentication). From a user perspective, it all just works. From the IT perspective, these connected services can easily be managed. For more information, see Overview of Office 365 ProPlus.

  • File password escrow key   Office 2013 includes new functionality that lets admins unlock password-protected Office files when, for example, the file owner either forgets the password or leaves the organization. By using a new Escrow Key Admin Tool, IT personnel can easily assign a new password to the file, or no password, and can save the file to the same location or a new location. You can download the Escrow Key Admin Tool from the Connect site.

  • Digital signature   Several digital signature improvements were made for documents that were created by using Office 2013 applications.

    • Users can now digitally “sign” Open Document Format (ODF v1.2) files by applying an invisible digital signature.

      Plus, Office 2013 will verify signatures on ODF files that were created by using other applications.

    • XAdES digital signatures in documents that are created by using Office 2013 applications are now easier to create. XAdES signed Office 2013 documents allow signers to add their addresses, titles, and to describe the intent of their signatures. Office 2013 will also evaluate -XL signatures by using the certificates and any revocation data that is contained in the file

  • Information Rights Management   Office 2013 incorporates new Windows 2012 Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS) features. Support for multiple user IDs for access to Office 365 and single sign-on means that choosing an identity and protecting content is much easier for users. Behind the scenes, this new functionality and automatic service discovery eliminate the need for registry configuration.

  • Enhancements to Office 2013 documents opened in “protected view”   This is a feature that was introduced in Office 2010 and helps reduce exploits by opening files in a restricted sandboxed  application container “lowbox” so that they can be examined before editing. New Windows 8 capabilities mean stronger process isolation and an application container that is blocked from network access.

For more information about security for Office 2013, see Overview of security in Office 2013 and Guide to Office 2013 security.

IDs

In Office 365, users can sign in by using either of two types of credentials: Personal (Microsoft account) or Organization (the Office 365 user ID that is assigned by the organization). The user supplies these credentials within the user interface (UI) or they can be picked up from the operating system in certain cases.

You can enable one of four sign-in states by using the Block sign-in to Office setting in the Registry. This setting controls whether users can provide credentials to Office 2013 by using either their Microsoft account or the Office 365 user ID assigned by the organization.

The Registry key for this setting is as follows:

To enable a sign-in option, set SignInOptions to a particular numeric value as shown in the following table. The type for the SignInOptions setting is DWORD. The table also describes how each selection affects users.

SignInOptions settings

If you set SignInOptions to this… This is what it means This is the effect on users


Microsoft account or organization ID

Users can sign in and access Office content by using their Microsoft account or one that is assigned by your organization.


Microsoft account only

Users can sign in only by using their Microsoft account.


Organization only

Users can sign in only by using the user ID that is assigned by your organization. This can be either a user ID in Azure Active Directory or a user ID in Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) on Windows Server.


AD DS only

Users can sign in only by using a user ID in Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) on Windows Server.


None allowed

Users can't sign in with any ID.

If you disable, or do not configure, the Block sign-in to Office setting, the default setting is 0, which means that users can sign in by using their Microsoft account or one that is assigned by your organization.

Office 2013 automatically bootstraps itself by using any Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) account through which the user signed in to the operating system. If that Active Directory account is federated with Office 2013, the user automatically receives all benefits of signing into Office 2013 without having to perform any additional steps.

For more information about federating your domain by using Office 365, see Prepare for single sign-on.

Additional resources

For information about application-specific changes in Office 2013, see Changes in Office 2013.

See also

System requirements for Office 2013
What's new in Outlook 2013
Content roadmap for Office 2013 compatibility
Guide to Office 2013 security
Roadmap for Office 2013 identity, authentication, and authorization

Getting started guide for deploying Office 365 ProPlus
Content roadmap for Office Web Apps Server