Microsoft Word 2010 review

Price when reviewed

Word’s SmartArt has been boosted with more slick diagrams and flowchart-esque graphics than before, plus simpler editing using the new text pane tool. As before the graphics can be colour-coded by theme but the range available has also been enhanced, with 39 new schemes added to the standard 20 supplied in Word 2007.

Microsoft Word 2010 - SmartArt

Enhancements on the productivity front are less striking but nonetheless useful (see video below). Those who regularly work with long documents will appreciate the new Navigation Pane. This cleverly displays the structure of a document in a series of buttons, each representing a heading or sub-heading.

Click a button and you’ll jump to that position in the document; drag it, and the heading and associated body text will move to the desired position. It won’t pick up headings automatically, though – you have to apply styles for it to work.

Another enhancement for novel writers and tablers of Olympic bids is the search feature, which adds a similar pane to the left of the main document window. This displays results complete with snippets of surrounding text and navigable links. Meanwhile, on the down side, the new Protected View adds an annoying UAC-like layer of “are you sure you want to edit this document?” to files opened remotely, for example network folders and internet locations.

Finally, for corporate customers using SharePoint, Word 2010 now has deeper support for multiple user collaboration than before. This essentially enables concurrent editing of single documents by multiple authors, locking individual elements, such as paragraphs and graphics, as they’re edited rather than the whole document. Sensibly, text isn’t wholesale replaced before your eyes as various people make changes, but highlighted when changed and updated only when you choose to save.

There’s more to it than just this, though. Where Office Communicator 2010 is in use, you can click presence indicators to send instant or text messages, or phone collaborators directly from within documents. Elements and features of individual documents can be locked down to prevent tampering – fonts and heading styles, for example – and even individual authors blocked from editing entirely.

Despite first impressions, then, beneath its calm surface Word 2010 turns out to have hidden depths. The creative additions are significant, the global improvements useful and the productivity enhancements added to Word itself, although not great in number, are a big plus point, particularly for corporate users. In all, Microsoft has pulled of an impressive feat with this version of Word 2010, stretching its lead significantly over free alternatives and online tools.

Reviews of all the applications in Office 2010 will be arriving thick and fast as we approach its release. Click here for our verdict on Excel 2010.


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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