At a special event in San Francisco on Monday, Microsoft announced the availability of the Office 2013 public preview, a sweeping wave of pre-release products and services that encompass traditional desktop productivity software, Windows 8 apps, mobile apps, web apps, servers, and online services. Office 2013 marks the first time Microsoft has ever developed and released such a massive lineup of solutions at the same time.

“These are certainly exciting times,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said during the launch event, alluding to the many new products his company has been announcing in recent weeks. “Our entire product line is being upgraded to get ready for Windows 8. But the flagship application from Microsoft … is Office. It’s a tool for productivity for people at work and people at home.”

The Office 2013 Public Preview follows an earlier Technical Preview release that went out to a small, private group of testers. But this version will be broadly available to the public and will encompass more of the products and services that will be included in the final wave of solutions. This includes new versions of Office 365, including one for home users; new Office suites; new versions of Exchange Server, SharePoint, Lync, and other Office servers; new mobile apps; two new Windows 8 Metro-style apps; and, in the months ahead, a new version of Office 2013 for Mac.

The fundamental change with this version, however, is the move to Office as a service. Although Office 2013 will be available as a traditional, monolithic software suite, Microsoft expects most users to access the software through one of its Office 365 subscriptions, which will provide nearly instant installation of the applications and allow installs on up to five PCs.

You can download the Office 2013 Public Preview now from office.com, according to Microsoft, although the download links don't appear to be ready yet. Fortunately, I’ve already written several lengthy articles about the Office 2013 Public Preview, which you can find at the SuperSite for Windows.