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New Features in Microsoft Office 2010 for Small Businesses

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It can be difficult to decide if upgrading to a new version of a program makes sense from a financial and productivity standpoint. This is especially true for a suite of applications that are the primary tools used by office workers and students. This article discusses some of the key improvements and new features added to the Office 2010 suite, along with pricing, system requirements, and bundles.
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There’s an old school of thought that if your work doesn’t change your tools don’t need to change either. For some professions like brick layers or wood carvers that may be true; but, for students at school and information workers in the modern office, work becomes more demanding every year so our tools need to adapt to help us keep up.

One of the primary tools information workers use is Microsoft Office. What started in 1990 as just Word, Excel, and PowerPoint has evolved over 20 years into a portfolio of over a dozen applications. Every time a new version of Microsoft Office is released, people want to know if the changes are worth the financial price and time to get over the learning curve. The answer depends on your needs and circumstances.

Let’s look at some new features shared across all Microsoft Office 2010 applications, highlights from individual applications, pricing, and system specification information. This should help you determine if upgrading to Office 2010 is right for you.

Shared Features

The Ribbon

By far the biggest single change three years ago in Office 2007 was the introduction of the “Ribbon” menu system. For users coming from Office 2000 and 2003, this was an enormous switch in navigation and a lot of people honestly didn’t like it. The Ribbon is here to stay, but the good news for those naysayers is that Microsoft has incorporated feedback and usability information over the last three years and improved the Ribbon in Office 2010. If you’ve not made the jump to the Ribbon yet and are concerned about the learning curve, don’t be. Microsoft has also created a series of online interactive guides to help you find those old familiar commands. Users simply click a simulated Office 2003 menu in the online tutorial, and it shows them where the commands are now located on the Ribbon in Office 2010. You can try out the Interactive Guides here:



If you’re tired of clicking on 5 or 6 menus for printing preferences, document metadata, permissions and versioning, the Backstage is for you. The ‘Office logo’ button in 2007 has been replaced with a ‘File’ menu in 2010, and the official name was changed to the Backstage. The Backstage view allows you to create a PDF, check out the improved print preview, and even inspect documents before sending them to someone else. It’s a one-stop-shop for what to do with your document after you’ve created it.

Sharing and Collaboration

Part of creating documents in Office is the act of sharing them with co-workers, clients, vendors, teachers, and others. More often than not those documents are emailed to someone because email is easy; but if the document is too large to fit through e-mail you now have several options built in for sharing right from the Office 2010 backstage menu:

  • Skydrive – This is a free Microsoft service tied to a Windows Live ID that lets you save documents online, and then control who can access them.
  • SharePoint – Office 2010 is heavily connected to SharePoint 2010, Microsoft’s newest web collaboration platform. Not only can you share documents, but you can interact with other users and work on Office 2010 documents at the same time!
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