Microsoft Office 2010 review

A lot has happened in the three years since Office 2007 made its debut. We’ve been credit crunched to within an inch of our debt-burdened lives, the Lib Dems have slipped into bed with the Conservatives, and Jordan split up with Peter Andre. All notable developments.

But how has time treated our old friend Office? With 2007, Microsoft took the bold step of radically revamping the user interface, and the result proved a revelation. Aside from the introduction of Office Web Apps, Microsoft’s online rival to Google Docs, the changes this time around are less extreme, but there are still plenty of innovations that might persuade you to upgrade.

The big change is the all-new Backstage view. Common across every application, it quickly becomes useful. Accessed by clicking File, it launches a full-screen view of features that were difficult to find in previous versions of Office, grouping together file, print and print preview, versioning and permissions. There’s a useful list of recent files (complete with previews) and recent folders.

Outlook 2010 Backstage view

The Ribbon is also customisable this time around, allowing the creation of new tabs plus the addition and removal of existing commands. This helps to answer one of the biggest criticisms of Office 2007: its lack of flexibility. All the Office apps now benefit from the Ribbon treatment, including Outlook and OneNote. Together with some spit-and-polish work – for example, the oblique Office logo that sat at the top left of each app’s window has been replaced by the program’s icon – the entire suite feels more co-ordinated.

Introducing Office Starter

For the skinflints among us, talk of Office Starter 2010 must have caused hearts to skip a beat. This edition, new to Office 2010, includes cut-down versions of Word and Excel. Cuts include advanced features such as tracking changes in Word and PivotTables in Excel, but it’s still surprising just how many features are on offer – everything most people need.

The main irritation is a permanently present pane down the right-hand side of the window, which not only occupies desktop space but is also home to rotating adverts. We expect Office Starter to be bundled with most new PCs and laptops, but note you can’t download it for use on an existing machine.

Details

Software subcategory Office software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Linux supported? no
Operating system Mac OS X supported? no

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