UNPLUGGED Office 2010 Event Writeup - Hamilton, NZ
I arrived to the Unplugged event about ten minutes late due to a misguided right turn on the road before the venue which led me several kilometers away to the end of a long queue of traffic which added fifteen minutes to my travel time.
Iíll summarize some of the things that I found interesting which you may or may not know about Office 2010.
The software itself has also, like Windows 7 been written for speed, the minimum requirements were quoted at just 256MB or RAM and a 500MHz CPU on Windows XP SP3 or above. It does apparently use 1.5GB more HD space but I am unsure on this as the Beta was smaller than 2007.
Other big global changes are the ribbon, for one the Office Orb is gone - replaced with the trusty File tab for the less adaptable. The ribbon is also fully per user customizable allowing you create whole new tabs on the ribbon with your own choice of commands. These are all stored in an XML file and are deployable with the initial installation, they may also be deployable with Group Policy but I have not confirmed that yet. A small upwards arrow is now also included on the bottom right hand corner of the ribbon to minimize it. You could minimize it in Office 2007 by double clicking any of the tab names in the ribbon but I like many users had not found this feature.
Backstage and the ribbon are now in all Office applications too, backstage is the new term for the area that allows you to share your document by printing it, saving it, publishing it to SharePoint or your Sky Drive. This area organizes all of these tasks into an easy common UI to simplify these tasks. One feature that I am excited about in this is the print feature and its automatic preview. The print action will bring up a print preview beside your printing options showing you live what the pages will look like. I donít know about others but I have tried many times to get users to check the print preview first so they donít waste paper, this shoves it in their face as a matter of course which is a great improvement.
OneNote, the note taking and organizing program is now included in all editions of Office which is another positive step as it is a very good tool for gathering and processing information. Its tasks also still follow you into Outlook to remind you to follow up on the content.
SharePoint Workspace is the renamed and upspecíed version of the old Groove collaboration tool. It is like an offline files feature for your SharePoint server allowing you to check out and work on documents then sync them back. This uses intelligent file management and tracking so that only changes are synced, very important if you are working remotely and change two words in a 500MB PowerPoint stack. This can be controlled by group policy and configured to work in a peer to peer fashion like Groove also.
Outlook has been much improved, behind the scenes and in front. It now supports up to ten Exchange Server accounts in a single MAPI profile allowing you to have Outlook connecting to different schools Exchange Servers if you deal with more than one site. The nickname cache (.nk2 files) feature where Outlook remembers all addresses that you typed in the ďtoĒ box is now server side meaning no more complaining users (about this fault) when their profiles have to be reset. As itís on the server it follows you between clients and even to webmail. The favorites have also gotten the same treatment allowing for the same experience. Quicksteps are another new feature, kind of like macros for Outlook allowing you to complete a string of common tasks with a single click, one of the built in ones are reply and delete but you can customize and add more to suite your work flow.
Outlook Social Connector is an extension that is built in to Office 2010 but is downloadable for 2007 and 2003. Personally I donít think that the name does it justice as it is more of a compiler of information. By default it will show you all previous emails from the contact in question and pull personal information on the contact from your local SharePoint if it exists. The big feature for me is that is also shows you in a list all of the attachments that you have received from the user and allows you to go right to them something which has eaten far too much of my time in the past. There is a plug-in for LinkedIn which will grab details from there too but this is about as close as it gets to the Social aspect of its name.
Excel has seen a large amount of performance tuning allowing truly huge datasets, massive with the 64bit version and access to even more ram. One of the demos was a comparison of the graphing engines when faced with a huge dataset (hundreds of thousands of rows I think). Office 2003 rendered it but took several seconds and the redraws were slow and jerky, Office 2007 crashed like a champ after about ten seconds and 2010 rendered it in less than a second with very quick redraws. It could even resize it smoothly.
Are there file format changes between 2007 and 2010? Yes but these are minor between Office 2007 SP2 and 2010, they should still open fine.
Will there be an Office 2010 Compatibility Pack for Office 2003? Possibly.
What about security warning dialogue boxes? Outlook now runs automatically in sandboxed mode allowing the user to see a non active version of the document without a warning, they will only be prompted to enable the document if they open it and want macros. This can be turned off in group policy.