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7/13/2009
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Office 2010: Plenty Of Bells And Whistles

The latest version of Microsoft's venerable productivity suite adds several features that should appeal to the social networking set.

Microsoft on Monday outlined a host of new features that will be included in its forthcoming Office 2010 home and business productivity suite. Not surprisingly, many are geared toward users steeped in Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and other popular Web 2.0 tools.

For starters, Microsoft revealed that the Office 2010 release, slated for the first half of next year, will include free Web versions of Excel, PowerPoint, Office, and Notepad. The move is in keeping with the "Work anywhere" theme the company has attached to its new offering.

"It's nice to be able to access your documents no matter where you are, whether that's at an airport kiosk or Internet cafe" said Chris Capossela, senior VP for Microsoft's Business unit, in an interview. "You can use Office on your PC, but when you're away from your PC it's easy to get your stuff," said Capossela.

Under the plan, users will be able to tap Office Web—as the online version of Office is called—through Microsoft's Windows Live Portal. After editing and saving work, users can store their documents on Microsoft's existing SkyDrive service.

Microsoft has also added a host of collaboration features to the Web and client-based versions of Office under its "Better collaborate" theme.

For instance, new co-authoring tools will allow easier document sharing across teams and workgroups. Instead of passing a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint document around through e-mail, users can simply e-mail colleagues a link to a document that's viewable and editable in Sharepoint or Windows Live. PowerPoint 2010 features a new button labeled "Generate Slideshow." Activating the button generates a URL for the presentation that can be e-mailed to whomever the user selects.

"230 million Office documents are attached to Hotmail each month," said Capossela. "Many of those will go away because we've added multi-user authoring," he said. Meanwhile, the Web-based version of Office will allow users to more easily tag content from within their documents and post it to blogs and social networking sites.

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