New Features in Office 2010 - 18 Feb 2010

More Ribbon, a 64-bit version, and other features will help you work more efficiently and securely

Microsoft will have a banner year for new releases in 2010. Even so, one release will affect more users than any other: Microsoft Office 2010. Office enjoys near-ubiquitous status and is in use by a majority of businesses worldwide. Although previous versions of Office are tough acts to follow, Microsoft has still managed to add many significant enhancements to the Office 2010 release. Let's take a look at some of the cool new features in Office 2010.

10. New native 64-bit version—Office 2007 was available only in a 32-bit version. When you start to install Office 2010, you'll see right away that Microsoft has made a native 64-bit version of Office 2010 because you choose which version to install. The 64-bit version lets Office 2010 take full advantage of the 64-bit Windows OS.

9. New icons and a customizable Ribbon—Probably the first thing you'll notice about Office 2010 are the new icons for the applications. Each icon now has a large letter representing the application's name. That's a nice touch for Outlook because the old yellow Outlook icon looked a bit too much like the Windows Explorer icon. Another nice touch is the fact that the Ribbon is no longer fixed: You can customize it with your own sections and commands.

8. Revamped Office Button—The Office Button now presents a new smart control panel that provides information about the current document and offers many new options to better control document printing. Inexplicably, Microsoft now calls what you see when you click the Office Button the Backstage view.

7. Protected View for downloaded documents—For added security, Word 2010 has a new Protected View for documents opened from the Internet. Protected View essentially presents these Internet documents in read-only mode, which prevents you from running any malicious code that might have been inserted into documents.

6. Built-in screen capture tool—Another handy tool is the built-in screen capture, conveniently located under the Insert section of the Ribbon. You can use it from within Word 2010 or PowerPoint 2010 to capture all the currently open windows, then select the screenshot of the desired window and insert it into your document.

5. Image Background Removal tool—A closely related feature is the new image Background Removal tool. You typically don't want to include the background of your screen captures in the images you use in your document. Previously, you needed to use another image editing tool to delete the unwanted background. The Background Removal tool lets you get rid of the background without leaving Word or PowerPoint.

4. PowerPoint can record direct to video—Another cool PowerPoint 2010 enhancement is the ability to record presentations directly to video. In case you were wondering, there's also basic video editing capability that lets you edit videos in PowerPoint 2010 without the need for third-party tools.

3. Coauthoring in Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote—I can see how Office 2010's new coauthoring feature can be a benefit to many businesses. Coauthoring lets multiple authors work simultaneously on the same document and merge together each author's work. Coauthoring requires that the shared documents are stored on SharePoint 2010.

2. Jump lists for Outlook—One cool feature in Outlook 2010 is the addition of the Windows 7–style jump list. You access Outlook 2010's jump list simply by hovering over the Outlook icon in the taskbar. Outlook 2010's jump list lets you quickly create new email messages, appointments, contacts, and tasks without opening Outlook and navigating through its menu options.

1. New Ribbon UI for Outlook and OneNote—Without a doubt, for everyone who lives in Outlook (and isn't that everyone!), one of the biggest changes in Office 2010 is Outlook's new Ribbon UI. I wasn't too crazy about the Ribbon at first, but like most things you use every day, I came to like it and was happy to see it added to Outlook. The Ribbon UI has also been added to OneNote, completing the adoption of the Ribbon across the entire Office suite.

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