Almost a year after the first Technical Preview rolled out, Microsoft has finally delivered the release version of Office 2010 — to businesses at least (consumers will have to wait until June to get their hands on the new productivity suite).
With new versions of all the main Office applications and the belated inclusion of OneNote as a first-class citizen, this would just be another refresh of Microsoft’s longstanding cash cow — if it wasn’t for Office’s entry into the cloud computing age with Office Web Apps. It’s also the long-awaited arrival of a 64-bit version of Office, which will take advantage of the capabilities of the latest hardware.
We’ve been working with Office 2010 since that first preview release, and it’s been clear that, right from the start, Office 2010 has been suitable for everyday use, with few bugs and plenty of new features to explore. We’ve looked at many of them in our earlier Technical Preview and Beta reviews.
Across the suite
One of the most obvious changes between the beta and the final release is in the Backstage view, where the Share section has been renamed Save & Send. It’s an important piece of Office, as it’s here you can save files to SharePoint, or to Windows Live SkyDrive for use with the Office Web Apps. Backstage also makes printing easier, with print options readily available plus a clear page preview. If you’re using Office 2010 with SharePoint 2010 you can also use the BackStage to link Office into business processes and workflows. If cross-platform sharing and archiving is important to you, there’s improved support for ODF (Open Document Format) and an option to make the ODF the default file format.
Office 2007 introduced the Office Ribbon user interface, somewhat inconsistently. Now, in Office 2010, it’s everywhere. However, the ribbon is a lot easier to customise, and it’s a lot easier for third-party plug-ins to add their own tabs. You can create your own tabs, to bring together the commands you regularly use. There are also contextual tabs that appear to add relevant commands — for example, image editing, search or table layout.
It has always been frustrating to lose a document or a file you’ve been working on. Earlier versions of Office had a basic document recovery option that could retrieve the last version of a file (or at least an earlier saved version). If you enable AutoSave in Word, Excel or PowerPoint, you’ll get access to the last five versions, from up to four days ago, of a file from the Backstage