Microsoft Office 2010 Technical Preview: Q&A

A number of readers have written to me asking questions about Office 2010 and the Technical Preview programme. Here are some of the questions and my answers that may be of interest to a wider audience.

Microsoft Office 2010 Technical Preview: Q&A

How long will the Technical Preview programme actually last?

The Technical Preview programme – the availability of TP installation packs and ability to give feedback – will finish at RTM (Release To Manufacture), which is expected to be around May/June 2010. The current invitation-only phase will run until November 2009, when new installation packs of updated applications will be made available to a wider audience, and I’d recommend everyone in the Private TP Programme upgrade their installations at that point.

In the past, this public phase of testing has been available to anyone who wants to take part. The TP applications themselves will probably cease to work around October 2010.

If it’s that good, can we uninstall our previous version of Office and just use Office 2010 TP?

I wouldn’t recommend relying solely on the current Private TP of Office 2010 because there are undiscovered bugs, and so much of it remains unfinished. It is after all only beta code that hasn’t been fully tested yet, and something will break when it’s most inconvenient for you, thanks to Murphy’s law. We haven’t got to the Public TP yet, so I can’t say what sort of quality that codebase will display, but I’d be wary even then as there will still be bugs. That’s what beta testing is all about.

I’m happy to run Office 2010 on my main PC, but only because I have a second machine running Office 2007 that I can switch to if need be. If you haven’t got a second machine, either use a Virtual PC or else keep both Office 2007 and 2010 TP installed on the same machine. Since you can have only one version of Outlook installed, you’ll have to decide to accept the risk of using Outlook 2010, or else keep Outlook 2007 and forego using Outlook 2010 at all.

I write lots of single letters – not multiple mail-merged letters – and getting the name and address out of the Outlook address book into a letter is a joke. Will Office 2010 allow the selection of an address in Outlook and then paste it quickly and easily into Word?

You need to go to Outlook Contacts folder in Business Card view, select an item, copy it and return to Word to use the new Paste Options feature to paste just the text of the object. This gets you the name, address, phone number and email address of the contact in a usable format.

Can you select an address from a received document and get it parsed into an Outlook Contact?

If you drag a name, address and phone number from Word to an Outlook Contacts folder and drop it there, you’ll get a new Contact record with the text you dragged in its Notes field – you can then drag the various lines to their correct boxes. (This works in Outlook 2007 as well.)

Can you turn off autocomplete for dates? I don’t want my dates to look like 30 June 2009-06-30 regardless of what Microsoft thinks, but I don’t want to turn autocomplete off entirely.

AutoComplete in Word 2010 no longer mangles dates, thank goodness, as it’s been a long-standing bugbear for many people. Quite why Word insisted on autocompleting a year into a full ISO date is beyond me, since it certainly wasn’t helpful.

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