Microsoft Office 2010 Beta. Meh.

Ok, that may be a little overly harsh, but don’t expect any earth-shattering new functionality from it.  Before I get into my thoughts, let me share a little bit about how I use Office.  In order of most to least used the applications are:

  1. Outlook (By far)
  2. Communicator
  3. OneNote
  4. Excel
  5. Word
  6. PowerPoint
  7. InfoPath

This is the lens through which I experience this suite of applications.  Measure your grain of salt accordingly.  Also, keep in mind that this is a beta and all is subject to change.

My first blush headline impression would be “Office 2010:  The Ribbon Takes Over!”.  Outlook, OneNote and InfoPath all got the ribbon treatment.  The rest of the apps had their ribbon refreshed and mostly improved.

Outlook – The conversation view is pretty good, but still not as good as what you find in Gmail.  It groups (at least in part) by the subject line, so I have found instances where separate threads were shown to me when they had nothing to do with one another. 

The “Quick Steps” feature on the ribbon is pretty slick:

image

It allows you to configure series of common tasks and make them single clickable.  For example, I can select an email and click “To Manager” and it will forward the message, go to Active Directory and find out who my manager is and drop their email address into the To field. 

The other thing I really like is integrated Communicator.  It embeds itself in the lower right hand corner and shows my contact list all the time.  I love not having to open the Communicator client all the time to check presence.

OneNote – The ribbon took just a bit to adjust to on this one, but I think is an overall slight gain.  I like that you can dock it to your desktop and link a file from another app into your notes.  The sharing is supposed to be a whole lot better in this version also.  I couldn’t find the 2010 version of OneNote Mobile to try out, but I read that you can easily do over the air syncing with it.

The Rest – Excel, Word and PowerPoint all look a little fancier and have some improved menus, but I have yet to uncover anything that really wows me.  The integration with Office Live is pretty slick (you can sync your files to the cloud, sort of like LiveMesh). 

The Verdict – I’m not sure yet.  So far I haven’t seen anything that makes me think I will recommend this upgrade to my clients in general.  I will let you know if that changes!