Microsoft Word, the status quo of word processors, sees changes in Word 2010 that are mostly centered around the appearance of documents with features like Text Effects, OpenType typography support, removing photo backgrounds, artistic effects, additional Office themes, improved shapes, improved SmartArt, and the Insert Screenshot feature. (These features are also shared across most of the Office 2010 applications.)
To make working inside the documents easier, “Paste with Live Preview” and “Recover Unsaved Documents” features have been added to Office 2010. Word 2010 also has an improved Navigation Pane to browse and organize large documents.
Obviously, spreadsheets are great for storing data in rows and columns for easy tabulation and calculation. However, arranging that data to provide meaningful insight and to spot trends is the name of the game, and Excel 2010 brings new tools to the table. New Sparklines provide a tiny chart in a single cell. Conditional Formatting has been improved to dynamically flag trends and conditions. A new Search Filter can easily search millions of items in tables. Huge improvements in PivotTables have been made with tools like the Slicer, PowerPivot, and improved PivotTable views. Charting performance and functional accuracy have also been improved. And for massive data sets, the 64-bit version of Excel lets you edit Excel spreadsheets that are larger than a gigabyte!
Everybody’s heard of Death by PowerPoint (being killed by a boring presentation), but nobody will die from boredom with PowerPoint 2010. Standout features include the ability to imbed videos from YouTube and other websites, and improved SmartArt diagrams to get your point across. You can now edit pictures and videos right inside PowerPoint. Presentations can be exported to video as a .WMV file, optimized for broadband for high quality, or reduced small enough to be emailed. One of the most amazing features has to be the Broadcast Slide Show that lets you stream a presentation online, even if the viewer doesn’t have PowerPoint installed!
The vast majority of employee time savings to be found in the entire Office 2010 suite come from Outlook 2010. With support for Multiple Exchange Accounts, there is no more need to switch between different profiles when you start Outlook if you have to access different mailboxes. Multiple Exchange mailboxes can be opened at the same time on the same server, or even on an entirely different domain at a remote location.
Once you’re inside the mailbox several new tools exist to help make short work of all of that email. The Conversation View provides a consolidated view for logical reading of email threads. Some users might not like the change at first (and they can turn Conversation View off), but it really saves time reading long threads. The Cleanup Conversations feature deletes redundant messages. The Ignore feature automatically deletes past and future conversations you don’t want to see. Quick Steps let you do repetitive tasks at the click of a single button, like “Reply & Delete”, “Forward to Manager”, “Move to a Mailbox”, and other tasks you define.
Finally, if you’re into social networking, the new Social Connector in Outlook 2010 lets you see LinkedIn, SharePoint, and MySpace information for your contacts. Facebook and Windows Live connectors will be added soon. If your company uses Exchange 2010, you can also leverage features like Mail Tips which check the Out Of Office status of email recipients and warns of common email problems before you even hit Send on the email.
Gathering research, documentation, and ideas is what OneNote 2010 is all about. It can record audio and video and synchronize the recording with your typed notes (or handwritten notes if you have a tablet PC), which makes it great for students and conference rooms. It can grab screenshots and clippings from web pages to make short work of internal process documentation or of creating user instructions. All of this is organized in a digital notebook format that’s easy to rearrange and search.
OneNote 2010 steps beyond the already fantastic OneNote 2007 by adding some really useful new features. Linked Notes help you track your way back to Word or PowerPoint where you snagged information. Students will appreciate the new math equation support. Quick Filing organizes your new content as it’s added, navigation has been improved, and the “Dock to Desktop” feature makes taking notes while working in other applications much easier.
Databases can be intimidating for new users, and that’s the reason Access 2010 was designed with ease of use in mind. Pre-built database templates, Quick Start fields, and the enhanced Ribbon interface have been added to lower the learning curve for entry-level database folks. For the experienced Access users Microsoft has added powerful functionality to push databases to the next level. There is an Image Gallery for storing backgrounds, icons, and other images. A new Web browser control allows dynamic integration with web content such as Bing maps. Data bars let your forms and reports come alive when displaying data and the 64-bit version of Microsoft Access lets you crunch more numbers than ever before.
The desktop publishing program Publisher 2010 has made creating professional publications and marketing materials even faster and easier. You can quickly swap two pictures (or just their formatting), add picture captions, reuse content across multiple templates, and leverage content from the gallery or the Publisher User Community to create professional-quality publications. The new alignment guide makes lining up items in the document a snap. Publisher 2010 now has support for OpenType typography and improved commercial and digital printing support.
Re-entering data from things like seminar registration forms, handwritten work orders, vacation requests, and expense reports can be a time-consuming and error-prone process. InfoPath 2010 lets you create interactive forms that are easy to customize and easy for users to fill out. You can think of it sort of like a PDF form that lets the data flow through the text boxes and into a database or SharePoint workspace on the back end. InfoPath 2010 features some improvements to online and offline forms and new InfoPath Filler for entering the data; but not much else is new for the average Office user.
SharePoint Workspace 2010
Formerly known as Microsoft Office Groove (and not to be confused with SharePoint Designer), SharePoint Workspace 2010 provides offline access to SharePoint content. It also supports traditional Groove workspaces for collaboration with users without access to a SharePoint site. The most helpful feature is Direct Folder Access which lets you access SharePoint and Groove workspaces directly from Windows folders.