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Ramblings from the Restaurant at the Ragged Edge of Reason

Office 2010 Road Warrior Event at Papakura Normal School (Part 1 of 2)

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by , 26th June 2010 at 06:50 PM (3631 Views)
The Road Warrior event at Papakura Normal was well attended attracting at least twenty participants from five separate schools to hear about the new features and improvements available in Office 2010. Part one of this blog entry contains the writeup on general features, Outlook, Word, PowerPoint and Publisher. The second part contains information on Excel, Office extentions like Ribbon Hero and PowerPivot along with a small amount on SharePoint, Live@Edu and Expression Encoder.

I arrived at about 3:15pm by which point where already at least ten people had assembled and conversation had already turned to the Home Use Program that allows for registered staff to download a copy of Office 2010 Professional Plus to install on their home computers for only $10 while the school is covered under a Volume License. Under this agreement staff are not limited to solely work related use of the software and as their agreement is with Microsoft directly the school no longer has to worry about being required to remove the software from staff computers if they leave. The best bits of this are that this is free to the school to setup, easy for teachers to use and does not require any technician time to implement.

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ID:	7534Over the hour and a half long presentation a lot of ground was covered by the presenter Paul Conroy all of which was in the form of live demonstrations using the actual software. It was a quick overview of a selection of the features that makes Office 2010 a great step forward, the presentation also covered some of the extensions available for both 2010 and 2007. For the purposes of clarity in this write up I have re-ordered some of the features to group them all together by the product that they relate to.

General Features
Some of the improved features are universal and available and useful across all of the Office suite. The first of these is the new graphics handling engine, this has the ability to easily grab screenshots by active window or by cutout selection using the screen clipping feature. There are also live art effects available throughout enabling you to reshape using auto shapes, colorize using filtering effects, and apply transforms like tilts and 3D buttoning effects along with automatic background removal. This allows for users to do lots of the cleanup and editing on graphics that would previously need a separate application from inside the document with live previews. Integration of these features throughout means that all of this processing is accessible from Word, PowerPoint or even Outlook.

Printing has also had a major overhaul, the print dialogue is now replaced with a full screen view that includes a print preview to show you how your document will look when printed. Simply forcing this has got to save reams of paper a year. This page also includes many of the printing features that can be customized including paper size, margins, zoom options and even stapling and duplexing options if your printer supports these. This further integration removes most of the need for digging into the printer properties which are organized differently between different types of printers.

Document handling has also gained a few usability updates, from the File ribbon option you can now select the recent tab which allows you to pin both files and folders allowing you to quickly get to the places you need to get to often. Coupled with the separate ability to pin recent documents within the Windows 7 ribbon this makes for a very efficient way to just right to documents that you use all of the time.

Outlook
Outlook 2010 has also benefitted from a large number of improvements most of which are geared for dealing with correspondence as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is especially useful for those who deal with a large amount of emails daily but also benefit those with smaller inboxes by allowing them to clear them more quickly. The conversation view is now the default grouping emails by sender and allowing for a more coherent view of correspondence with each person or group of people. There is a new conversation cleanup feature that will take a large group of replied to emails from one or many people and compress them down to two email, one with the entire back history of the conversation and the other with just the latest reply. There is also a related feature which lets you ignore a conversation entirely which will automatically move any new replies to the deleted items folder.

Quicksteps are a new feature that allows you to create little automated tasks that can be triggered right from the ribbon like forwarding the selected email to a group of people with a single click. Templates are now better supported with the Quick Pass feature located under the Insert tab, this allows you to store and use multiple email templates quickly.

Meeting requests have also had a revamp, when you receive a meeting request you are now shown a small snippet of your calendar of the time covered by the meeting request so that you can easily and instantly see whether you are free and can attend. You can also reply to an email with a meeting request directly from the ribbon cutting out a step or two from dispatching the required responses. Multiple calendars can now be viewed side by side or even overlaid on top of each other letting you quickly see when multiple people have open time.

Word
Word now has an enhanced equation editor allowing you to add properly formatted complex mathematical formulas into your document easily from the ribbon. This feature is fully integrated into the ribbon making it much more user friendly than the old method of inserting a Microsoft Equation Editor object.

The research features allow you to quickly translate selected text using the online Live translation service in addition to the usual thesaurus and dictionary tools. There is a much better find feature that can show results in context showing a small selection of the text surrounding the search term. The navigation pane has also received an upgrade and allows you to easily move large blocks of text around the document.

Formatting restrictions are another new feature allowing you to force certain fonts and styles, these restrictions can be enforced within a document or over an entire domain with Active Directory.

Publisher
Publisher has joined the future and gained the full ribbon interface, along with the enhancements bundled throughout the Office suite there are lots of new templates available. You can also upload these to Microsoft to share with others which should lead to a very large repository of templates that can be used.

One of the most interesting new features demoed was the ability to mail merge a graphically heavy publisher document to email and have it send off fully HTML compliant emails to each individual recipient.

PowerPoint
Copied from somwhere off the web as I was not at a PC with 2010 when I posted this entry.PowerPoint has some of the most visible and useful enhancements making it much more able to create modern looking presentations including all sorts of media and distribute it to your audience. The first big feature is vastly enhanced video support. This allows you to easily insert video files, crop out just the time section that you want and apply the same transforms available for images. This means that you can reshape, recolor and even apply 3D effects to videos. These are automatically embedded into the pptx file so this limits portability issues. A built in compression and compatibility option is now included that will quickly and easily shrink down the content to sensible sizes for distribution and publishing, this can also change some file formats for maximum compatibility. There is also a feature that allows you to add videos directly from the internet from sites like YouTube that allow you to embed their content. This feature just embeds the clip as it would on a web page meaning that you do need an internet connection to play it and cannot apply the same effects that you can to a natively embedded file.

The options for packaging your presentations and showing them have been expanded with the options to save the whole show to a video file including your voice annotations, save directly to live drive or SharePoint. Possibly the most interesting new way to publish your presentation is the new online broadcast feature. This lets you present live to people all over the world by broadcasting the slideshow without video and the fancy slide transitions in standards compliant HTML in real time. This means that anyone with a web browser can view your show as in real time as you click through it. It does not yet handle broadcasting of your voice but with something like Skype or a conference call this can be overcome.

Editing has also been improved and now allows you group slides together allowing them to be easily arranged and moved about. Copying of slides from one presentation to another has also been improved and now no longer bleeds the theme of one into the other. Other improvements allow you to deal with complicated slides easier by using the Selection and Visibility option under the Arrange ribbon to selectively show and hide elements to make working with large groups of layered elements much more simply. The animation painter allows for easier management of larger amount of animations letting you copy and paste animations between elements.

Link to part two->

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