As of today, Microsoft Office 2010 has officially left Technical Preview and is now in public beta, meaning that anybody can download it and take it for a spin. I was able to get an early look at the beta and want to relay some of the changes you can expect in this upcoming release. Microsoft is really stepping up its game with this release, and even though there are scattered reports of performance issues, I am not seeing them on my Vista test machine.
We covered the release of the Office 2010 Technical Preview and the Office Web Apps Technical Preview. This beta smooths out some rough edges in the Technical Preview releases and adds some new features:
Changes across all Office applications. Once upon a time in the pre-Internet dark days, Microsoft Office was just four applications, with little integration between them and no consideration of the role the web would play in document authoring, collaboration, and management. In fact, it wasn’t until Office 2003’s integration with SharePoint that Microsoft Office become a full-blown communications and collaboration tool. Now with Office 2010, Microsoft has opened up the suite even further for more sharing of content across applications and there is further integration with SkyDrive.
OneNote 2010. With every Microsoft Office release, I’ve noticed the Office development team pay special attention to one or two Office applications — OneNote has gotten a lot attention this time around. Besides joining the full Office suite (instead of being a separate purchase), there are many new improvements to the application (see my post about the OneNote 2010 Technical Preview for more detail).The biggest improvement is Microsoft offering up OneNote as a collaboration platform with its new coauthoring feature. With coauthoring, a project team can share and collaborate on OneNote pages and notebooks. As a longtime OneNote user, I can definitely see myself making use of the coauthoring and collaboration tools when I work on a team standardized on Office 2010.
PowerPoint 2010. PowerPoint 2010 enables you to edit video directly in the application, without the need for a third-party tool. While I am the last to call myself a “video person”, my limited testing of the feature showed it to be fine for video novices but those of you more video literate may find the feature to be a little lightweight. I was also happy to see the capability to put presentations online via SkyDrive or SharePoint 2010.
Outlook 2010. The Outlook beta offers improved conversation management tools, including the capability to ignore redundant email. A noteworthy addition to Outlook 2010 is the Outlook Social Connector (OSC), which appears to be a tool that ties into SharePoint 2010 and aggregates information on any user’s emails, phone conversations, and IM sessions with you, With OSC and its upcoming API development kit, Outlook could finally link directly into major social networks without the need for third-party add-ins (see my previous post entitled “Make Microsoft Outlook More Social”). While I wasn’t able to test out OSC fully, I do plan to keep it on my scope and test it further.
Word 2010. Outside of the suite-wide changes, Word 2010 is still pretty much the same feature-wise as it was in the technical preview.
Excel 2010. I like to leave the heavy spreadsheet work to my accounting-minded friends and colleagues but outside of the suite-wide changes, Excel 2010 is still pretty much the same feature wise as it was in the technical preview.
Have you tried out the Office 2010 Beta? Share your experience below.