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Microsoft Office 2010 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £93
inc VAT

If you need more than just a text editor and a basic spreadsheet, then Microsoft’s Office is still a great choice.


Word 2010

Word is the application that’s arguably had the least done to it, as it already pretty much did everything anyone needed. There are some new tools to make working with pictures easier, allowing you to adjust colour saturation and temperature, plus image cropping and correction.

While these tools make importing images a little easier, they’re far from essential as any half-decent photo editor can do the same. They are available, however, in practically every application, so you don’t need to open another application to make basic changes to images.

Word 2010's new find function makes it much easier to locate a word or phrase in a document

We like the new Find tool. This opens up a side-bar of results, giving you a short cutting of the surrounding text for each result. This makes it very quick to skip to the result that you want. It’s also helpful that your search text is highlighted in the body, so any reference can quickly be spotted on the page.

One key new feature helps you recover documents when you accidentally clicked the No button when you were asked if you wanted to save them. This feature keeps the last AutoSave for any document that hasn’t been manually saved and given a filename. However, it only works after a document has been AutoSaved, which by default is every ten minutes. In other words, close a document down without saving before 10 minutes is up and your file’s as good as gone forever. Thankfully , it’s easy enough to reduce the time between AutoSaves.

Unsaved documents can be accessed by clicking the Recover Unsaved Documents button in the Recent files menu. With a faster AutoSave time set, this feature could well prove invaluable.

Excel 2010

Many of the improvements to other Office programs have focussed either on more efficient working or more polished-looking content. There’s some of this in Excel 2010 too, but there are also interesting new number-crunching and data-analysis features. Probably the one we liked best was the Slicer.

This is a simple tool for quickly selecting and displaying information in a Pivot table. In our screenshot, for instance, we’ve used the Slicer to quickly home in on just two cells in a table of 442 cells: allowing us to make a direct and meaningful comparison in seconds.

With tools such as Slicer, Excel 2010 makes it easier to productively work with and analyse large amounts of data.

Usefully, Microsoft has also added a search function to Pivot tables, making it even easier to find a single variable. Another exciting new feature, for business users, is PowerPivot, a free download that allows you to import many millions of rows of data from sources as varied other Excel workbooks, web sources and SQL databases.

As with the rest of the suite, Excel 2010 has also been improved in order to make it easier to share and collaborate online. The web-based co-authoring tool allows you to collaborate on files that have been saved to Windows Live SkyDrive. And with the Accessibility Checker you can make sure that the files you create will be readable for as wide and audience as possible.

Microsoft has also added the equation tool (for showing mathematical equations) previously only available in Word 2007, to this version of Excel. Given that working with numbers is Excel’s primary function, it was odd not to have done this in the first place.

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