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Microsoft Touts Office 2013 Integration With Skype, Yammer, Cloud

At a press event in San Francisco, Microsoft has unveiled the new Office suite, sporting a new look in line with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.

One of the key features of the new Office is cloud integration using SkyDrive. Users will be able to sync key settings across multiple devices after logging in to SkyDrive. You can continue working on the same document using a different device, as well as share it with others.

Microsoft also showed off how users can collaborate on Office through social network integration. For example, you can see if your Skype contacts are available from any application in the new Office suite and make Skype calls directly from within Outlook. There’s also the ability to collaborate on documents through Microsoft’s Lync application.

Good news for tablet users: A Microsoft RT version of Office for ARM-based tablets will be included for free on RT devices, including the Surface. 

The new Office will have touchscreen capabilities, where users can use taps, swipes, and other gestures to create presentations. You can also draw on your presentations using a stylus.

Meanwhile, the subscription-based Office 365 will now come with three tiers–Office 365 Home Premium, Office 365 Small Business Premium and Office 365 ProPlus–with pricing information to be announced later.

Microsoft also unveiled a new version of its notetaking app, OneNote, which will have touch, pen and keyboard input.

Although Office is currently being used by more than one billion people, it faces stiff competition from cheaper alternatives, such as Google’s suite of Web-based office applications.