Microsoft Project 2010 Promises Significant Improvement


Picture 19 Microsoft Project (s msft) is frustrating. Although it’s still a very good planning and project management tool, it’s tricky for non-PM professionals to get the hang of, and it hasn’t seen any significant updates in a very long time — while its (mainly online) competitors have been improving apace. Hopefully, that frustration should be eased next year, when Project 2010 is launched. Project 2010, officially announced today at the Microsoft Project Conference in Phoenix, looks like it will include significant improvements to the user experience, coupled with better integration with other Microsoft products.

I had a chance to speak to Senior Director of Product Marketing for Project, Seth Patton, prior to the announcement to get the lowdown on the new version. Patton says that it will be significantly easier for non-PM professionals to use, with an interface that includes the Office ribbon and a wizard-like Task Inspector that will make it easier to discover Project features without overwhelming the user, while at the same time retaining (and building on) the functionality that seasoned Project pros need. Simple collaboration will be available via SharePoint (so companies won’t necessarily need to shell out  for Project Server), and Project now integrates tightly with Visual Studio and Dynamics. The Project product range will also be streamlined, with a clear pathway to more advanced project and portfolio management capabilities as business needs change.

If you’re growing tired of the lack of updates to Project and are considering switching to one of its online competitors, you might want to hang tight until you can give this new version a run for its money. Somewhat annoyingly, Microsoft hasn’t made a beta available with the announcement, so you can’t try it out just yet; according to Patton, the public beta (which you can sign up for here) is due to land “before the end of the calendar year.” The final release should happen early next year, to coincide with the main Office 2010 launch.

Are you looking forward to Project 2010? Or have the lack of updates to the product forced you to jump ship?


Robert Hodges

Great article. The Beta will be available to all conference attendees via a special offer by PMPI and KeyStone Learning Systems.

Also check out for a free webcast (Sept 24) including Sessions from PMPI and the MS Proj Team with an in depth look at Project 2010 and QA at the end.

Kevin Archbold

I would be the first to draw attention to MS Project’s shortcomings, which are many. However, there’s a common misconception that people should be able to install the s/w and suddenly be able to plan and execute well managed projects.

Does the install of Excel make you an accountant? Or the availability of Word turn people into journalists? No. In each case you would expect people to receive training in the appropriate discipline – and the s/w is simply a tool to help them be more effective. The same is true for MS Project and project management.

If you want to learn how to get more out of MS Project, take a project management class before you take any more s/w training.

Simon Mackie

that’s definitely true, but I believe the point of this release is not trying to make Project Managers out of everyone, but make Project itself a little less intimidating to use and more suitable for even very basic plans (the kind of thing most people would do in Excel or even as a text doc currently). The idea being that you can start with a very simple plan, discover more features and go from there. Even experienced PMs can struggle with Project if they’re not used to it.

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