What you don’t know about Office 2010

If you had to guess what are the top two functions most used by people in the Office suite of productivity applications what would you think they would be?

The answer reveals the basic starting point that Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) took to improve the package. Cut and paste was the No. 1 most use function followed by Undo.

Jason Brommet, senior product manager and Canadian Office 2010 chief, said users would copy content into a document and inevitably did not like the way it look so they hit the undo button.

Microsoft believes they have fixed this issue with Paste Preview, a new feature in Office 2010 that enables users to Copy and Paste and see what it looks like before accepting it. The feature is similar to the Live Preview function. “About 20 per cent of the clicks are copy and paste and the second most used function is undo and now you don’t have to with Paste Preview,” Brommet said.

There are a lot of these look before you implement type of features in the new Office 2010. For example, the Back Stage feature enables users to work with the document, spreadsheet or slide show and manage all the elements of that document in one area before it goes to completion.

“Back stage makes you a producer or director and you work on the document before it is completed,” Brommet said.

He added that Office 2010 will be a visual transformation for most users and channel partners. The last version of Office had the ribbon, which became one of the more controversial features in the product.

Brommet said that the ribbon ended up distracting people’s ability to find things even though initially it was intended to help users find functions faster. Some of the chances include a chrome background that softens the look for people.

Also the Office logo on the top left hand corner is gone. The logo functions as the File menu in previous Office versions, but users thought it was a branding exercise from Microsoft, he said.

File is making a comeback, but it will be colour coded to represent the application in use. For example, File will be blue when working in Word and green when working in Excel.Users also lamented that the Print button was missing from the last Office package. That too will be back.

“The Office logo was not connecting with people and so we’ll go back to the File function. The new iconography will make it look soft and organic and we wanted to create an identifier for all the apps,” Brommet said.

The apps and how that will be organized will make the biggest impact for channel partners, Brommet said.

OEM licensing will be in the form of a single program on a PC as it is manufactured. For those that pre-install Office there is a new out of the box experience that includes Starter, which replaces Works. Works will no longer exist. However, Office Starter is not a business product or SKU. “It lives and dies on the PC and as soon as the PC gets imaged it will die,” Brommet said. Starter will not be supported either with any security updates or management tools. When using Starter people will get a three-question message to either activate an already purchased Office 2010 or to purchase Office 2010 or to simply use Starter.

Starter will have more functionality that Works ever had, Brommet added. Starter looks like Word, but is advertising supported. When connected users will see new ads being refreshed along with get started tutorials and a purchase button to unlock the full Office 2010.

Also past versions weather it was Home or Professional or Student had their own upgrade paths. Microsoft will now have one path for each hopefully to ease the burden for channel partners, Brommet said.The OneNote application, which was first created for slate or convertible tablet notebooks will now be made available in all Office 2010 versions include the entry-level Home package.

“The core apps will still be Word, Excel and PowerPoint and then it will branch out with Outlook, Publisher and Access. OneNote will be in all versions,” Brommet said.

Office packaging has changed. Users panic that they did not have any physical media when they upgraded via download. Media will be added along with easier to open jewel cases and a product key card for those buyers who wish to have no media. Added new navigation pane for search and you can choose by section and reorder content in this pane via drag and drop illuminated the cut and paste function.

Other new features include: a new navigation pane for search, photo editing inside word without the use of a Photo Editing tool, colour changes to photo on the fly, Excel analytic tool to process 100 million figures instead of 64,000 in the last version, Sparklines for quick view of chart data, and Slicers for pivot-tables to help you select specific ranges and cells.

OK, one more Office 2010 fact: The average length of a Word document is 11 pages.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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