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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.


PowerPoint 2010

As with so many of Office 2010’s programs, PowerPoint is playing catch-up with online-based apps. Presentation services such as Prezi, with their panning and zooming graphics, made previous versions of PowerPoint look staid and dull. Microsoft has hit back with new features designed to add pizazz to your presentations.

You can add and edit both video and audio content to your slide. Editing features include colour and contrast correction, some visual effects and the ability to insert bookmarks and control how the media plays back within your presentation. It’s all fairly simple, but enough, if used wisely, to add a bit of extra slickness to your pitch. You can even use a video as the background for a slide, though this can be a bit distracting. Also new is support for Apple’s Quicktime video format, which can be embedded and edited just like other common video formats.

PowerPoint 2010 doesn’t feel radically different from 2007, but a range of new media-handling features help you create presen

In much the same vein, Microsoft has added some fancy new slide transitions. Instead of simply fading from one slide to another, each successive slide can now sear itself into your retina with a flash or loom suddenly out the screen at you. It certainly got our attention.

Don’t forget that the PC you run the slideshow on must also have PowerPoint 2010 installed for the new effects to work. Run your slides even on PowerPoint 2007, and your videos will appear as static images and all the new flashy transitions will be replaced by old ones. So make sure you take your own laptop with you when you go to see clients.

Improvements to the program’s working environment include the ability, supposedly, to ‘broadcast’ presentations through the free WindowsLive service. We say supposedly because, like so many of Office 2010’s social features, it doesn’t appear to be up and running yet. Other very welcome improvements are the ability to have two presentations open side-by-side (long overdue) and to easily print your slide notes.

Outlook 2010

Three years after most Office programs, Outlook finally has the Ribbon. So the program’s tools and features can all be found on a range of tabs, rather than hidden behind menus. It might not sound like much, but it makes it a lot easier to find what you’re looking for. Like most of the other programs in Office 2010, Outlook also has the new picture editing tools, BackStage view and paste with live preview.

There are also plenty of changes specific to Outlook. There’s a new conversation view, which groups emails together in threads (like Google’s Wave). Coupled with the cleanup tools, which delete mails containing duplicate information, this is actually surprisingly handy.

Like the Xobni plugin, the social connector allows you to see what your contacts are up to on various social networks. But wh

There’s also the new social network connector. This plugs Outlook into your social networks, so you can see status updates from within Outlook and download contacts from your networks to your Outlook address book. It’s a nice idea, but there’s only support for LinkedIn and MySpace at present, with Facebook and Twitter conspicuously missing. If you use Outlook with a POP3 or IMAP mail account, besides QuickSteps (new shortcuts on the Ribbon), that’s probably about all the changes you’ll notice.

For Exchange Users there are a few extras. Best of all, is the team calendar. Anyone who’s listed in Active Directory as being in your team, you can see and (assuming the right permissions) modify their calendars at a single click. There’s also a new calendar preview function. When someone sends you a meeting request, the relevant portion of your calendar is previewed in the mail. So you can quickly see whether you’re free. The room finder we were less impressed with – it didn’t seem to offer that much of an advantage over the All Rooms button in Exchange 2007.

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