Microsoft Office 2010 Consumer Technical Preview (CTP) Review
Here i decided to post a text in English to you because of the large number of applications for foreign friends.
Microsoft recently announced the consumer technical preview (CTP) of Microsoft Office 2010, which was shown to attendees of Microsoft’s TechNet conference. We were able to get our hands on the CTP before its scheduled release date (July 2009) and check it out. They have changed around a few things, especially when it comes to the “ribbon” menu and a few other features.
Perhaps the largest change to Office 2010 is the availability of both a 32- and 64-bit version of the suite.
The leaked CTP’s SKU is Office 2010 Professional, which comes with the basic apps (Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher) and other more advanced apps (Access, SharePoint, Visio, Groove). Microsoft has also expanded the use of the ribbon menu to all of the Office 2010 applications. The ribbon menu was introduced in Office 2007 and was both praised and resented for various reasons. However, with Office 2010, the ribbon is here to stay for sure.
They have also altered the look of the ribbon to a more subtle, flat gray look, which blends in nicely with Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 7 operating system. You can now hide the bulk of the ribbon menu by clicking a small arrow button on the right side of it, which is useful for users with a smaller screen space due to the use of a small screen resolution. Each Office application’s menu button, which was formerly round, has been replaced with a colored tab that appears first on the ribbon. The tab’s color depends on the Office program (ie: blue for Office, green for Excel, and yellow for Outlook). When clicked, the whole interface transforms into a new menu-window. Along the left side of the window there is a column of options that are specific to the program that’s open.
For example, Word’s options include Save/Open/Close, Print, and Share. The default menu that is open is the "recent" menu, which shows all of the documents that have been opened recently. The more complicated tasks, such as Print and Share, expand further right on the window when clicked or hovered over.
For example, the Print feature no longer appears in a new window, but rather a new column where all the various print features can be adjusted. Microsoft has removed one of my favorite features of Office 2007, the Quick Print button, which used the default print settings and sent the document to the printer in only one click.
The New menu shows a large variety of document types that you can create in Word and gives you a preview of the type of document in the right part of the screen.
Word 2010’s interface with the more subtle gray ribbon that fits in well with Windows 7’s interface
A closer view of Word 2010’s ribbon and the new Office tab menu, which houses all the functionality of the circular Office button in Office 2007
The default menu that is open in the Office tab is the "Recent" menu, which shows recently opened documents.
When clicking on the "New" menu, you can select from many different types of documents.
The new Print menu in the Office app tab allows you to modify all the print settings all in the same window as your document. There’s also a print preview that appears on the right side of the screen.
The Share menu in the Office app tab gives you an enormous variety of options to share a document. It allows easily export to an e-mail message, a PDF version, a XPS document, an Internet fax, and an online blog entry.
Microsoft has added a few security features to Office 2010. The one that users will mostly often come across is when they open a downloaded document in Word 2010.
When you do so for the first time, the ribbon is hidden and all editing is also disabled. A red Protected View notification appears letting you know the file was downloaded from the Internet and may not be safe to open. You can then click on "enable editing" and Word will return to normal.
The new Protected View gives users a chance to make sure the Word document they downloaded really is safe to open.
Word 2010 also includes a new paste feature in the right-click context menu. When you have text copied to the clipboard and you right-click anywhere in your document, a new paste selection area appears in the menu with three icons for pasting options. You can either paste with formatting, merge formatting, or paste text only without formatting. Word always gave you the ability to keep or remove formatting when pasting, but it was also via a tooltip menu that appeared when you hovered over something you pasted in the past.
This way you get instant and up-front pasting options.
The pasting options that appear in the right-click context menu
On start up, there are new animated splash screens for each application. The start up times are also remarkably faster than previous versions of the Office suite. Opening Word or Excel can be done in around 2 seconds and Outlook in 4-5 seconds, which is extremely fast. (Full disclosure: We tested the CTP on Windows 7 Release Candidate because that’s what Office 2010 has been primarily designed to be run on.) Outlook’s reliability and speed has been significantly improved, which has been a common issue with Outlook.
They’ve made searching and navigating within Outlook exceptionally fast and noticeably better over Office 2007. As mentioned earlier, Outlook now uses the ribbon interface instead of the traditional drop-down menus, but we like the ribbon integration because it has been done in a mostly well thought-out manner and looks natural.
One thing we did not like about the ribbon’s design is the placement of the send/receive button, which is on the second tab and not the first tab, which effectively hides it from the default view.
Outlook does automatically send/receive on start up, but any subsequent times you must click the second tab and then click send/receive.
The new splash screens in Office 210 are animated and feature minimize/close and cancel buttons, but since each program loads so fast, they don’t really serve a purpose.
Outlook is probably the most changed application to the Office 2010 suite with the addition of many new features. When used with Windows 7, you can right-click the program’s icon in the task bar and a list of common tasks appear, such as Creating a New E-mail.
Also, you can drag a file from a Windows 7 application’s Jump List to the Outlook window and a new e-mail message will appear with that file attached to it. Syncing with Windows Mobile 6.1 phones has also been included to allow you to sync text messages to your e-mail inbox and reply to them right from Outlook on your computer. Voicemails can also be converted to text from voice and sent as an e-mail.
Another really useful feature in Outlook 2010 is its ability to combine and thread e-mail messages from the same e-mail address together. This threading is shown by a "(#)" designation (with ‘#’ being the number of e-mails) in the right of the e-mail in your message list. When you click on it, the hidden e-mails will unthread and display indented under the main e-mail.
When you click off any of these e-mails, they disappear again. This feature is a nice way to keep related e-mails from the same person together without having to search around to find all of them.
Outlook 2010 has been completely ribbonized.
A closer view of the Outlook 2010 ribbon menu. Note Send/Receive functionality (and the button itself) is located on the second tab on the ribbon
Outlook 2010 also now as the Office application tab shown to the left of the ribbon tabs and when clicked, it transforms the window into almost exactly what it does in Word 2010.
The default view in this new window is the account settings area, which lets you modify your e-mail account’s settings, such as POP3 servers, etc.
There are other menus as well, such as the Print menu, which shows you printer settings and a print preview of the e-mail you have selected in Outlook at the current moment.
The account information menu lets you change your e-mail account’s settings as well as perform a few additional tasks.
Outlook also has a new feature called Quick Steps, which lets you define common tasks that you perform on a regular basis and wish to have them done with one click.
To do so, you can setup a new quick step with all of the steps and actions that you need taken. For example, you could setup a quick step to move all e-mails from firstname.lastname@example.org to your Accounting folder with just one click.
You can also assign keyboard shortcuts to each quick step as well.
Once created, the Quick Step appears in its own section of the ribbon on the first tab, which means they are always displayed by default.
One could think of these as a sort of macro, but without all of the security flaws and issues.
Outlook’s quick steps let you setup a way to perform common tasks with just one click.
In this quick step, I setup a way to make a new message to email@example.com with the message flag of Today and an importance of High.
There are a few other tweaks to some of the other Office 2010 programs. Excel has gotten some new Web 2.0-looking chart graphics and layouts. They look really slick and are just another way to jazz up a boring office memo. However, mostly each program has stayed the same, especially Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, but Outlook definitely got most of the changes. There has also been some talk from the Office development team that Office 2010 will include Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks integrated right into Word.
These features weren’t in the leaked CTP build, but we expect them down the line.
There’s a nifty send a smile/frown feature that comes with the CTP, which lets you send feedback to the Office development team when you encounter something either positive or negative.
It puts two face icons into your notification tray that you can click either the smile face or sad face and a window will appear which takes a screenshot (if you want) and you can type out a description of your experience.
If you do get the CTP, you’ll definitely want to use this notification feature because with this Office CTP release, we have encountered a few minor bugs, mostly with things not where they say they are (such as help topics) and error dialogs result. But since this is only a technical preview, we can’t be too harsh, but we can hope all of these issues will be resolved by the rumored very late 2009 or January 2010 release of Office 2010.
With the retail release of Office 2010, Microsoft will also be debuting its new Office Web, which are online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. At the time of this CTP leak, none of Office Web features are available.
It should also be noted that if you have a previous Microsoft Office suite installed on your PC, such as Office 2007, you can keep them installed alongside Office 2010 (with the exception of Outlook, which it will uninstall for you).
If you elect to install Outlook 2010 and you currently use an older version of Outlook, it will move all of your e-mails, contacts, and calendar items to the new version…but export your data to a .PST anyway just to be safe.
If you would like to sign up for the Office 2010 Consumer Technical Preview wait-list, you can visit Microsoft’s Web site to sign up. They say that not everyone on the list will be invited to the CTP preview, but it doesn’t hurt to sign up now.
Fabio Santos – Microsoft Student Partner Co-Lead / ES