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Office 10 - First Impressions

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The first thing most Office 2007 users will notice about Office 2010 is that the File menu is back – great, no more “office blob”. All the Office applications (including Visio and Project) now share the same updated ribbon, so the hotch-potch that we had in Office 2007 of some applications using the traditional toolbars and some using the new ribbon has been removed. What is more, the ribbons are now editable. (Why was that feature ever removed?)

The whole Office suite now looks and feels much slicker. It may be just my impression (I’ve got nothing to back it up); but it seems to run a tad quicker as well. Additionally, this is only the beta, so I expect the final release will be faster still. Users of 64bit systems will no doubt be pleased to know that for the first time with Office 2010, a true 64bit version is available.

PowerPoint is now much slicker, not only do you get impressivev3D transitions, rotating cubes, perspective fades and 3D explosions will all soon be coming to a screen near you, but the editing tools have been improved as well. For example, you can remove backgrounds from photographs and trim video clips.  Adobe has nothing to worry about here, the editing is basic, but these easy to use features are welcome nevertheless.

Excel is much the same as it was with a few minor tweeks under the skin. Personally I've never worked out why people make such big deal about pivot tables being difficult to construct, but Microsoft has now made the process even simpler. If dragging and dropping were not simple enough, a new feature called "Slices" lets you change the contents to the pivot table by pushing a few buttons. It took me a while to realize what it was doing so the jury is still out on whether pivot-table novices will find it useful or if it will just confuse?

Dig a little deeper into some of the 'minor' office tools and you will find that Office Grove is no more, its been replaced by SharePoint Workspace (it’s just Grove with SharePoint knobs on as far as I can tell).

Of all the applications, Outlook seems to have undergone the biggest change. This in itself is not suprising since Outlook 2007 was a bit of an oddity, sporting the old fashioned 2003 style toolbars.  Not only does Outlook 2010 have a proper ribbon but there have been a number of other enhancements, the ability to have seamless integration with “social sites” such as Facebook being notable – I’m not sure how well this feature will go down in the corporate community – but no doubt home and SOHO users will welcome it.

Office 2010 is certainly more of an evolution than a revolution. New features are few and far between. A few of the rough edges that were present in Office 2007 have been removed and its certainly now looks more like an Office Suite rather than a bundled collection of applications. Oh and by the way OneNote is now included as standard in all versions of office.
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