I installed the Technical Preview of Office 2010 today. Having been impressed with the improvements in 2007 over 2003, I was looking forward to seeing what the new version had to offer. Obviously, one of the big selling points will be the online functionality – I love Google Apps, but there are some shortcomings… restrictions in colours for formatting, not being allowed to use hyperlinks in spreadsheets… nothing huge, but if they were available with Office Online, I would likely move over to using that instead.
Anyhow, I’ve had a cursory glance around the program I use the most – Word – and the changes are subtle, but potentially good news for ICT teachers. The UI remains pretty much the same; still based around the ribbon (which I like, I know some don’t). In fact, the biggest difference is that the circular Office logo is now the first tab in the ribbon… no big deal:
The first real difference I found was in the Insert menu. There’s now a Screenshot feature that allows the user to insert a screenshot of any open window directly into Word, without the need to to printscreen & paste. Alright, not a huge improvement, but what is is the fact that it will take screenshots of small windows without the need to crop them down. Anyone who’s ever taught GCSE ICT will know the royal pain in the ass that is screenshotting, so this is in my book an excellent addition.
The screenshot menu.
Inserting a screenshot of iTunes.
Inserting a small screenshot of the character menu from Photoshop.
The next new feature I found was the artistic effects menu for formatting pictures. It basically offers the default effects from Photoshop… I can see this becoming the new rainbow coloured WordArt as the bane of my life in KS3 lessons. On the topic of WordArt, though, my year 7s will be pleased to see the new WordArt available in PowerPoint 2007 is now available in Word 2010 – they never quite understood why it wasn’t in Word 2007.
Finally, the File menu now looks completely different, encompassing all the options it used to link to.
The best improvement here is in the print menu, which now combines print preview with the print options menu in a far more user friendly format:
So so far, after half an hour’s play, all seems well. More steps in the right direction when it comes to usability & a polished interface, and I’m not surprised there weren’t more changes as I can’t really think of much else that would be needed. I’m no card-carrying Microsoft fan, but I think they’ve got a lot right with both Windows 7 and what I’ve seen so far of Office 2010. Whether you love them or hate them, better software from the Microsoft camp encourages better software from their competitors, so it can’t be a bad thing.