The new version of Office looks very much like Office 2007, but changes in the new version may prove to be very beneficial.

One great change is it will be available in a 64-bit version. For those running 64-bit Windows, you will be able to take advantage of Office at full speed.

The ribbon on Office 2010 has been much improved so you can now modify it. In Office 2007, the ribbon was introduced, but many of the commands users were used to were either removed or hidden away. With the ability to modify the ribbon in Office 2010, you can now add those commands you were missing, rearrange commands to appear in different tabs, or even create your own tab with all the commands you normall use.

From the Office Button, you can save documents directly to Sharepoint.

Outlook now gets the ribbon, like Word and Excel and includes a nice featrue called Quick Steps. Quick Steps allows you to create a button to perform multiple tasks with just 1 click. For instance, if you constantly forward messages to accounting@mycompany.com, for each message you would need to select it, then select forward, then fill in the to: field with accounting@company.com, then hit the send button. Instead, you could just create a quick step button called “To Accounting” which would perform all these steps. Next time you want to forward a message to accounting, just select the message and click the “To Accounting” button. That’s it!

A few artistic affects have been added for images within your documents. This saves you from having to open the image in a program like Photoshop, add an affect, save the image, then apply it to your document. Instead, you can apply some effects right to the image within the document. For instance, if you have a color image you want to show as black and white, just insert the image in your document as normal, then with the image selected, use the Artistic Effects dropdown and selct the black and white effect to apply it to the image. Each effect will show you a thumbnail preview of what the image will look like before applying it to your image.

One annoyance we have discovered is a security feature. It is called Protected View. When you open an existing document for the first time in Word 2010, the document will open, but the ribbon is not displayed and you cannot edit the document. Where the ribbon should be will be a red box telling you the file originated from an internet location. You have to click the Enable Editing button in order to edit the document. The idea behind this is to make sure the document is safe to open before doing so and possibly getting a virus infection. Unfortunately, most users will just hit the Enable Editing button without thinking twice, which defeats the purpose. If they open the document, this is not usually by accident and was intentionally opened. Hopefully, Microsoft will provide a way to disable this useless feature.

A new cool feature is simultaneous editing. This feature allows one person to have a document open for editing and another person can have the same document open and make changes at the same time. It shows each user where the other user is editing within the document. This way two people can work on different parts of the same document without having to make 2 copies of the document, then try to merge them together later.

Word can also cache shared documents so you can edit them while you’re offline and synchronize the changes with the original when you come back online. This is great for those who are constantly on a plane working on documents. The users at the office can still access the shared documents while you are making your changes and when you get back to the office, those changes will automatically be syncronized to the original file without the user having to do anything.

Office 2010 so far has some pretty cool bells and whistles to make it a good upgrade. Start planning for it!

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