Microsoft Office 2010 Beta: Initial Reactions

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I'm a Mac user.  I've been a Mac User since 2007, and before that I was impressed with the Mac OS X line.  Why?  Because it uses UNIX as a core (version of BSD), and I could install retail software on it along with my open source software.  That was huge.  Before Mac OS X, I liked Linux, and used several distributions.  Before that, I used Windows like everyone else (though I preferred the DOS command line). 

But one thing I like about Microsoft is their Office Suite.  It's a great product overall, and very well done.  I've been teaching Office 2003 and 2007 classes since I started at the University of Utah, and the more I teach, the more I like it.  It's flexible, it's clean, and the Ribbon makes it easy to get a lot of things done. 

Yesterday I had a chance to download Microsoft Office 2010's Public Beta and give it a try.  Here are the initial impressions I got while running through the basic tools.

Excel 2010:

  • No more Office button:  Now you have the File Tab, which does the same thing.  This is a transition tool that would have been helpful with Office 2007 - less confusion with a button that previously didn't do anything.  Now it's just going to confuse those people who just got used to 2007.  Microsoft, make up your mind and stick with it please!  As you can see, this is a pet peeve of mine.
  • Sparklines:  I like them!  Mini charts in a cell that are not objects.  I like the concept, and it makes some of the conditional formatting tools obsolete.
  • Slicers are cool too, because they make using PivotTables that much easier, and I love PivotTables.
  • Equations:  Now you can write an equation in Excel.  For a program that is all about Math, this was a long time coming.  It also equalizes the Office Suite. 
  • Adding Screenshots:  I'm not sure when I would use this in Excel, but I like it in Word and PowerPoint!  This is a good tool for training in particular.  Nice work!
  • Automatic Themes updates:  This is cool, because there is a lot of potential in the Themes formatting tool. 

Word 2010:

  • AutoText:  This was seriously lacking in Word 2007, but it looks like it's back in some form in 2010.  I had county clerks that refused to switch to Office 2007 because this feature was no longer available.  They will be happy now!
  • Insert Table of Figures:  This is just cool. 
  • Restrict Editing:  Nice, though I suspect it requires SharePoint for it to work.  That and Block Editors, so real-time collaboration can work properly.  Of course, this same feature is available in SubEthaEdit for the Mac, and without purchasing an expensive SharePoint Server.  ^_^

PowerPoint 2010:

  • Equations:  Here again, I like it. 
  • Animations and Transitions Tabs:  I like that they separated the two.  There is so much one can do for each, they needed to be in different tabs.  Not that you SHOULD be using all the transition options, or all the animation options, but it's nice to know you can separate what you want from what you need.  ^_^

Outlook 2010:

  • Microsoft wisely didn't mess with Outlook much in 2007, because it is the lifeline of many in the business world.  They let everyone get used to the Ribbon before they threw it in Outlook, which they did in Office 2010.  I like the ribbon in Outlook, because you can see the features for which you normally have to hunt.  The only problem is, will it go over well in the office?  That's going to be an adjustment, and I'm thinking we will finally need to start offering Outlook classes just to get people used to it. 

That's about it!  I didn't get a lot of time to play with it in relation to collaboration, as I was the only person in the office who had it installed, but from what I see it's a good move.  Outlook is the only iffy thing, but other than that I see it being a much improved version of Office 2007.  But there are a lot of changes I'll need to make to my curriculum before I can start teaching the classes.  Luckily I'll have some time in the Christmas Holiday to get it done. 

If you are a Microsoft user and haven't upgraded to 2007, then upgrading to 2010 will be a good move.  Will you need to upgrade from 2007 to 2010?  Probably only if you want to have the new features, or need the new features.  Now I'm waiting (im)patiently for the Mac release, which will probably be Office 2011.