Microsoft Office 2010 (beta)

Microsoft has released the beta version of Office 2010 (available for free to those who preregister for a chance to download and test it). After running it for a few days of intense testing, I'm impatient for the final release. As far as I can telL this should be the smoothest upgrade for Office in many years. If you're used to Office 2007, you'll need no help using Office 2010. Old features remain where they were, although some are now displayed on spacious menus with lots of explanatory text instead of the cramped menus of 2007. In fact, the new features are slotted in so smoothly that it may take you a few moments to realize that they're new. This will also be the first version of Office available in both 32- and 64-bit versions.

There aren't big, obvious changes. As for subtle changes, Office 2010 extends the rib¬bon throughout the suite, adding it to Publisher OneNote, and Outlook's main menu. A new customiza¬tion feature lets you add your own tab and remove some items on the default ribbon.
The suite has replaced the pearl-like Office Button menu with a small, rectangular icon that opens a spacious "Backstage" page with options for saving, printing, and man¬aging files. A new Print menu is especially impressive, with options such as page orientation (portrait or landscape) and one- or two-sided printing instantly accessible instead of buried deep in the Windows Print dialog. And PDF out¬put is finally built-in from the start. Other additions include a screen-capture tool, a background-remover , and document sharing and collaboration functionality via SharePoint.

Office 2010 should keep Microsoft comfortably in the lead in office applications,but it remains to be seen how well Microsoft will fend off competition from Web-based application services such as Google Docs.

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