Microsoft Word 2010 review

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Cast a cursory glance over Word 2010 and, aside from the new Ribbon styling, you’ll struggle to tell the difference between this and its illustrious forebear. Then again, that’s more a reflection of the maturity of the product than a serious criticism. Adding significantly to such a mature, globally popular application without causing millions of users needless hassle is not an easy task.

There is one obvious change. As with all the Office 2010 applications, Word benefits from Backstage view, and this makes a big difference on a day to day basis. It’s now far easier to find recent files, change print settings and access settings as a whole. In Word, perhaps more than any other Office app, that can be a huge timesaver. The full-page view it brings up is far friendlier and easier on the eye than the diverse dialog boxes it replaces, and the only potential annoyance is that it completely hides the document you’re working on.

Microsoft Word 2010 - Backstage view

The Ribbon, as with all the other Office apps, is now customisable, so if your Word usage means you access certain esoteric commands that would never find their way on to Microsoft’s pre-made ribbons then you’re in luck.

The cut and paste options have been improved too: right-click anywhere in a page and a selection of Paste Options pop up as part of the contextual menu; you can keep source, merge formatting, use destination theme, or simply go with plain text. Better still, hover over one and you get a live preview of the paste operation, in place in the document. Very useful if you’re in the habit of pasting from web pages a lot.

The new Manage Versions feature tucked away in the Backstage view is another welcome addition. Word offered a recovery option before, but couldn’t recover files if you closed Word and accidentally clicked “Don’t Save”. Word 2010 always saves your latest version, allowing you to reopen the document, pop into Backstage view, and then preview, compare and restore different versions of a document. In fact, in the course of writing this very review we used the tool to rescue an hour or so of unsaved work.

Improvements specific to Word focus mainly on making your documents look more attractive. And there’s a lot to cover. The Screenshot tool tucked away on the Insert tab offers previews of all your open windows, while fancy, editable WordArt replaces the purely bitmap creations of 2007. That reduces file sizes and keeps text searchable. More subtly, support for OpenType fonts brings genuinely useful text formatting options such as ligatures.

There’s a host of new things you can do with pictures too, from removing distracting backgrounds to adding artistic effects such as Blur, Glass and Glow edges (see video below).


Software subcategoryOffice 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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