Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Take A Look At Microsoft Office 2010 (Page 1)

Microsoft recently announced the consumer technical preview (CTP) of Microsoft Office 2010, which was shown to attendees of Microsoft’s TechNet conference. We were able to get our hands on the CTP before its scheduled release date (July 2009) and check it out. They have changed around a few things, especially when it comes to the “ribbon” menu and a few other features.

Word 2010's interface with the more subtle gray ribbon that fits in well with Windows 7's interface

Perhaps the largest change to Office 2010 is the availability of both a 32- and 64-bit version of the suite. The leaked CTP’s SKU is Office 2010 Professional, which comes with the basic apps (Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher) and other more advanced apps (Access, SharePoint, Visio, Groove). Microsoft has also expanded the use of the ribbon menu to all of the Office 2010 applications. The ribbon menu was introduced in Office 2007 and was both praised and resented for various reasons. However, with Office 2010, the ribbon is here to stay for sure. They have also altered the look of the ribbon to a more subtle, flat gray look, which blends in nicely with Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 7 operating system. You can now hide the bulk of the ribbon menu by clicking a small arrow button on the right side of it, which is useful for users with a smaller screen space due to the use of a small screen resolution. Each Office application’s menu button, which was formerly round, has been replaced with a colored tab that appears first on the ribbon. The tab’s color depends on the Office program (ie: blue for Office, green for Excel, and yellow for Outlook). When clicked, the whole interface transforms into a new menu-window. Along the left side of the window there is a column of options that are specific to the program that’s open. For example, Word’s options include Save/Open/Close, Print, and Share. The default menu that is open is the "recent" menu, which shows all of the documents that have been opened recently. The more complicated tasks, such as Print and Share, expand further right on the window when clicked or hovered over. For example, the Print feature no longer appears in a new window, but rather a new column where all the various print features can be adjusted. Microsoft has removed one of my favorite features of Office 2007, the Quick Print button, which used the default print settings and sent the document to the printer in only one click. The New menu shows a large variety of document types that you can create in Word and gives you a preview of the type of document in the right part of the screen.

A closer view of Word 2010's ribbon and the new Office tab menu, which houses all the functionality of the circular Office button in Office 2007

The default menu that is open in the Office tab is the "Recent" menu, which shows recently opened documents.

When clicking on the "New" menu, you can select from many different types of documents.

The new Print menu in the Office app tab allows you to modify all the print settings all in the same window as your document. There's also a print preview that appears on the right side of the screen.

The Share menu in the Office app tab gives you an enormous variety of options to share a document. It allows easily export to an e-mail message, a PDF version, a XPS document, an Internet fax, and an online blog entry.

Microsoft has added a few security features to Office 2010. The one that users will mostly often come across is when they open a downloaded document in Word 2010. When you do so for the first time, the ribbon is hidden and all editing is also disabled. A red Protected View notification appears letting you know the file was downloaded from the Internet and may not be safe to open. You can then click on "enable editing" and Word will return to normal.


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