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Microsoft Office 2010
Added by Michael Cummins of Computer Assistant
Tuesday, April 6, 2010


So what's new in Office 2010? Quite a lot: the reviewer's guide that Microsoft helpfully provides for the likes of me runs to 174 pages, covering everything from the extension of the ribbon interface to Outlook 2010 to how to drill down and display data in Excel pivot tables. Other highlights include being able to slice and dice video into a Powerpoint presentation, and out-of-the-box PDF support, which Adobe isn't going to like. Neither is Adobe going to like the fact that you'll be able to edit images directly within Office apps.

What's more interesting, however, is the determination of Microsoft to make Office 2010 as widely available as possible, including online and via mobile devices. There's no need to buy – for large sums of money – the entire suite; you will be able to access via any browser and your Windows Live login pretty much full-featured versions of Excel, Word, Powerpoint and OneNote and use them to work collaboratively. If you're a business, you'll be able to host the Web Apps on your Sharepoint server and your minions will be able to access them via that.

This means, for example, if you're at a conference with a Powerpoint presentation on a USB stick and no laptop, and suddenly some new data arrives via email on your mobile, you'll be able to plug the stick into any computer and update the presentation using the online version of Powerpoint. It doesn't matter if it's a Mac and doesn't have Powerpoint installed; and, unlike the current version of Outlook Web Access on Exchange 2007, it doesn't matter what browser you use, either: the Web Apps are fully featured on any browser.

Clearly a riposte to the mighty Google and its Google Docs, Microsoft's Web Apps are, for my money, a better and richer experience than Google's offering. Like Google Docs, they will be free for the casual user. But why offer a free version of one of your biggest cash-generating suites of software? The answer is to expose as many people as possible to Office 2010, and to hope that they'll love it so much they'll shell out for the entire suite.

This version of Office is very much more focused on the world outside your PC. As well as the collaborative nature of the Web Apps, you'll be able to keep on top of what your colleagues and contacts are up to, either via your company's Sharepoint infrastructure or via the big social networks. So, via Outlook, not only will you be able to check up on whether Jack from Accounts has said yes to the meeting, you'll also be able to see, via Facebook, if he's still hungover from the weekend. Which would explain why he's showing up in your People Pane in Outlook 2010 as "out of the office".

As is usually the case with Microsoft, there will be lots of different flavours of the suite, ranging from the least eyewateringly expensive version aimed at students and home users – which, infuriatingly, won't include Outlook – up to the all-singing, all-dancing Office Professional Plus.


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