Microsoft Office 2010 Technical Preview

  • Category: Software

Microsoft has made available their Office 2010 technical preview to invite only participants and we were lucky enough to obtain one. Office 2010 is the successor to Microsoft's Office 2007, which changed the way Office looks with the ribbon. Office 2010 is not in its final stages by any means, but there are plenty of new features to be excited about.

Earlier this year, we reviewed a leaked version of the Office 2010 Technical Preview and not much as changed, but we've detailed some of the changes here. This new version puts a large emphasis on not only desktop applications, but mobile products and Office Web Applications that will allow users access to free hosted Office applications that can be used from both PCs and Macs. Compatible with IE, Firefox, and Safari, these Web Applications allow you to use Office on the go without needing Office 2010 installed on your PC. Office 2010 also is the first version of Office to ship in both a 32- and 64-bit version and both will come on one disc as well.

Office 2010 Loading Screen


Across all applications in Office 2010, including Outlook, the ribbon is now the default user interface. Some users have expressed their hate for the ribbon, while others have really liked it. When I first used it, I'll admit I was a little skeptical, but after more use, I really began to embrase and understand it better. The ribbon really puts all of the many features of Office 2010's applications at your fingertips by allowing the thoughtful display of many features in a small area by the use of well-thought-out tabs. In Office 2007, there was the "Office Orb", which was a way to access the particular application's menu and perform such tasks like print and save, but that's now gone. They have replaced it with an application tab with the background color of the Office app (like blue for Word and green for Excel) and when pressed, you get a new interface called Backstage. This new view takes up the whole open window and gives you access to the controls that you can perform on the current document, such as Print, Save, Share, and others.

The "Ribbon" interface menu is now standard across all Office 2010 applications.

Backstage is the interface to access behind-the-scenes features of the current document that is open.

Microsoft Word

Word is probably the most used application in Office since we all have to type documents at some point. The biggest improvement to Word 2010 is the improved searching within a document. In previous versions of Word, when you used the Find dialog, it was an actual window that appeared on top of the document itself and covered it from view. In Word 2010, using the find feature pops it up in a nagivation pane to the left of the open document.

My favorite feature in Word 2010 is the new Paste Preview that appears when you paste in text or images into a document. It helps when something is taken from a formatted Web site and pasted into Word because it usually won't come out pretty. When something is now pasted into Word 2010, a hovering window appears titled "Paste Options" and it lets you choose to paste with formatting or without before comitting it to the document.

Paste Options
Paste options box that appears when text is pasted into Word 2010

Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Office Excel is a very well-used application in the world of business because of its amazing features and ability to make sense of complex data by use of graphs, tables, and charts. If you choose to install Excel 64-bit at installation, that will allow you to create and edit multi-gigabyte spreadsheets (4GB is the limit with the 32-bit version) and memory intenstive spreadsheets.

During Microsoft's demo of Excel 2010 at WPC09, they showed off a new feature called Sparklines. These are pretty much smaller charts that can be displayed using data from cells into one cell, which gives an at-a-glance look at the data and an easy way to represent complex numbers and data without chunking it into one graph.

PivotTables have been around in Excel for a long time and allow users to break down data into simplier pieces and then let you pivot the data around to view it in manner with different variables and such. A new feature to Excel 2010 are Slicers, which are data filters for PivotTables. Slicers appear as seperate objects inside spreadsheets and let you change what data is displayed inside the PivotTable on-the-fly.

Microsoft Outlook

In Office 2010, Outlook is the most changed application out of all the most-used applictions in the Office suite. Most obvious is the addition of the ribbon interface into Outlook. However, the other most noticable change is Conversation View, which lets users consolidate their emails between the same contacts together and as one "chunk". For example, all of the emails between you and "This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. " are shown under the most recent message and are expanded when you click the top message. This keeps your inbox clean and organized really easily right from the start. Another feature that works in tandum with Conversation View is the new Ignore Thread feature that when clicked, deletes all past and future emails that are replies and forwards regarding the ignored set of emails. For example, if you receive a memo and you don't think it is important and other people are reply all'ing to the message and you don't want to receive any more, just click ignore and it will throw away all future emails connected to that original email.

Outlook's new inteface includes the ribbon menu.

Another feature a lot of people will like are Quick Steps, which lets you perform common tasks with one click. Lets say you want to move any email you get from your boss and forward it to your home email account and then move it to your Boss file in Outlook. Doing this manually is tedious and time-consuming, but with Quick Steps, you can setup an action to automatically do this for you. Once setup, just click it in the Quick Steps area in the ribbon and it will do it all for you.

Quick Steps
Quick Steps in Outlook let you perform common tasks with one click.

Microsoft PowerPoint

PowerPoint is used heavily in a lot of people's lives, from school presentations to corporate earnings presentations. Microsoft has been making PowerPoint adaptable for these different uses and has succeeded in making it easy to use too. The first thing that Microsoft did to PowerPoint 2010 that needed to be done for a while now is updating the slide animations and transitions. There are a lot of new slide transitions that Microsoft put time and effort into creatings and what they did add looks professional and fits.

Users have been able to embed video into presentations for a long time, but there hasn't been a way to easily edit them until now. In PowerPoint 2010, you can now edit embedded video right from within PowerPoint itself without using an external video editing program. When you click on a video that's been embedded into a slide, two new ribbon tabs appear. The first tab, Format, lets you control the videos brightness, contrast, color, and style (such as borders, shapes, etc.). The other tab, Edit, contains all of the video editing tools. Once edited, you can compress the video to lessen the presentation's file size. Also, PowerPoint 2010 supports embedding video from online video sites, like YouTube. Just click "Video from Online Video Site" and copy and paste the embed HTML into the box that appears.

Editing Video
PowerPoint 2010 lets you edit video right from within the program.

There are a lot of new video styles in PowerPoint 2010. In the above image, we tilted the video and added a reflection to it as well.

Office 2010 Suite Versions

Office Professional Plus: Enterprise users - Includes OneNote and SharePoint Workspace.

Office Standard: Enterprise users - Includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, Outlook and Publisher.

Office Professional: For small business use, includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, and Publisher

Office Home and Student: Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote (Microsoft will be pushing this version at retail the most)

Office Home and Business: Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote and Outlook

(In Office 2010, the Enterprise, Small Business and Ultimate editions no longer exist.)