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.

Paul McDougall, Editor At Large, InformationWeek

July 13, 2009

3 Min Read

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.

For video addicts that like to upload files to YouTube, Microsoft has created tools that make it easier to capture, edit, and store files with video content under a theme it calls "Bring ideas to life." Among the features, the client version of Office 2010 will offer built in image processing tools that let users edit, crop, color correct and perform other enhancements from within their Office documents.

"It lets your average person feel like a professional publisher," said Capossela.

New tools aren't the only changes Microsoft plans for Office 2010. The company has reduced the number of versions from eight to five. Businesses can choose from Office Standard and Office Professional Plus. The latter includes Sharepoint, Infopath, and other enterprise features.

Consumers will have the choice between Office Home and Student, Office Home and Business—which includes Outlook—and Office Pro, which "has just about everything," said Caposella.

Gone from the consumer lineup are Office Ultimate and Office Small Business. "We wanted to make it easier for people to figure out which version of Office is right for them," said Caposella.

In terms of formats, Office 2010 will offer native support for Office Open XML—a Microsoft developed standard that's been approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)—and the open source Open Document Format. The company has also published full notes for the methods it used to implement the specifications in a nod to third-party developers. "We went above and beyond" in terms of standards support, said Caposella.

Microsoft on Monday released a technical preview of Office 2010 to selected developers at its Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans. It plans to introduce a beta version of the suite later this year and ship a final product in the first half of next calendar year.

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About the Author(s)

Paul McDougall

Editor At Large, InformationWeek

Paul McDougall is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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