Microsoft has made preview versions of its updated Office productivity suite available for free download.
The software giant has redesigned Office stalwart applications Word, Powerpoint, OneNote, Excel and Outlook for touchscreen devices, such as smartphones and tablet computers, and traditional notebook and desktop personal computers.
They come with the 2013 tag - the new Word is called Word 2013 - hinting at Microsoft's proposed release schedule for the radical update.
Like Windows 8, which will be released on October 26, the new Office features the Metro graphic user interface (GUI) based on the Microsoft Windows Phone 7, which replaces traditional icons with live tiles which display the application's latest information.
The email live tile, for example, displays the number of unread emails in its inbox, and the weather live tile shows the latest forecast.
The new Office also borrows another feature from Windows 8 - the ability to synchronise files and settings between multiple devices. This will mean you will be able to access whatever documents you are working on from virtually any device that has internet capabilities, and it won't feel like a different computer.
"It is a cloud service and will fully light up when paired with Windows 8," Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said at a press conference.
"It's the Office you know and trust, transformed," the company said in a promotional video on the Microsoft website. "Office introduces exciting new features, and a gorgeous new look that make it easier for you to get things done. Sign into your account from virtually anywhere and discover your documents and settings that stay with you on the Windows 8 devices you love."
Microsoft Office has been around since 1989.
The new Office comes in Home Premium, Small Business Premium and ProPlus versions, with a different assortment of applications in each, and enterprise editions for business. It's available from microsoft.com/office/preview until its commercial release.
Meanwhile, Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live divisions president Steven Sinofsky has announced Windows 8 will be available in 109 languages in 231 different countries.
Those running Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 on their computer will be able to download a Windows 8 upgrade for $39.99. Anyone buying a new Windows 7 computer between now and January will qualify for a Windows 8 upgrade for $19.99.
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