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By Colleen Wheeler |

Featured Five free videos: A first look at Microsoft Windows 8 and Office 13

A new version of both Windows and the Office suite are on the way later this year. Last week, we released two new courses designed to give you a glimpse into these latest offerings from Microsoft. Right now, you can download preview versions of Windows 8 and Office 2013 to try out. So for this installment of the Featured Five, I’ve chosen five free videos from our new Office 2013 First Look and Windows 8 Release Preview First Look courses. In each one, author David Rivers gives you a look at what’s to come.

A first look at Windows 8 and Office 13

1. Understanding the different versions of Windows 8

Windows 8 is planned to release in October and, as with previous versions, there are various editions to choose from. In this video from the Introduction chapter of Windows 8 Release Preview First Look, David goes over each edition of Windows 8 and its intended audience: Windows 8 (consumers and home users), Windows 8 Pro (tech enthusiasts), Windows RT (those who buy it preinstalled on ARM-processor), and Windows 8 Enterprise (bulk business customers).

2. Using gestures and touch in Windows 8

One of the real paradigm shifts in the way Windows 8 works is the ability to use touch, or what Microsoft calls gestures, whenever you’re using a touch screen, mobile device, or in some cases a mouse. Some of the gestures are intuitive if you’ve been using a touch-screen smartphone with any regularity. Other gestures may make sense only after David shows you how to use them. This video from chapter one of Windows 8 Release Preview First Look, introduces Windows 8 gestures, how they look in action, and how to use them to navigate the Windows 8 interface with ease.

3. Working with the Photos app in Windows 8

One of the features of Windows 8 is a home screen with app icons that look similar to those you’d see on a mobile device. One of those apps, Photos, helps you organize and view your digital photographs, regardless of whether your photos currently live on your camera, hard drive, Flickr account, SkyDrive, and so on. In this video from chapter two of Windows 8 Release Preview First Look, David shows you how the Photos app works.

4. Integrating Office 2013 with the cloud

When you’re working with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or other Office 2013 applications, the default location for saving your documents will be the cloud-based SkyDrive. Of course, you’ll still be able to save things to your local hard drive, as David demonstrates in this video from chapter one of Office 2013 First Look.

5. Tracking changes and conversations in Word

Although you may have used Track Changes in previous versions of Word, there’s a new option called Simple Markup that makes reviewing changes a much less cluttered experience. As David shows in this video from chapter two of Office 2013 First Look, when changes are made to a document using Simple Markup, a simple red vertical indicator appears to the left of a text area that has been revised. Then, to see the changes made, and who made them, the red indicator line can be clicked to reveal the details of an edit, one edit at a time. This new tool lets you see changes, and keep track of editing conversations, but it also lets you scan through a relatively clean document.

Members of lynda.com can watch the complete versions of both Windows 8 Release First Look and Office 2013 First Lookin our library.

Which features do you think bring the biggest potential change to your work?

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