Microsoft may be opening their first retail stores, a la Apple Stores as early as this fall in Scottsdale, Arizona and Mission Viejo, California. No word is available yet about any store launches outside the US but according to eWeek, the Mission Viejo store will open at a mall that includes a successful Apple Store. The Shops at Mission Viejo is an upscale mall that I have visited often during my US trips in Orange County, south of Los Angeles.
What do you add to a suite of programs that already include everything apart from the kitchen sink? Three years is a long time in computerese — and that’s around the time since the last version of Microsoft Office (Office 2007) showed up. Office 2007’s biggest new feature was the Ribbon interface (also called Fluent) — and this time, Microsoft has had to create more usability features so that users are convinced to upgrade to the upcoming Office 2010 — and that’s a great thing to happen!
Here are some of the new features as mentioned on Microsoft’s new Office 2010 mini-site:
- All of Office 2010: The Ribbon was limited to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and some parts of Outlook in Office 2007 — now it has been extended to the rest of the Office site with Office 2010 — significantly, Outlook 2010 will now be entirely Ribbonized. There are more SmartArt variants! The new Backstage view that puts everything in one view without having to navigate multiple dialog boxes and interfaces. Lots of stuff here including print options, templates, your recent files, file permissions, and more.
- Word 2010 has more formatting options for text including 3D effects like reflection and shading. There’s a Document Map option that lets you rearrange the content in your Word documents intuitively, and this reminded me of PowerPoint’s outline pane. There’s also improved sharing and collaboration of documents — and integration with SharePoint.
- Excel 2010 has new options to analyze data — the new Slicer feature allows you to quickly filter and drill down data. The Sparklines feature creates mini chart-like representations within cells. Workbooks can be published to SharePoint servers, and shared.
- PowerPoint 2010 provides cool Artistic Effects for photos with live previews. New transitions have been added, and the Animation Painter option copies animations from one slide object to another, and that’s so cool if you have added and fine-tuned your animation sequences and timings for one object and want it repeated on another! There are new video options including reflections for video clips, video trimming capabilities, and new navigation controls. File compression works better and you can save your PowerPoints as video clips. New Slide Sections lets you organize your slides into logical sections. SharePoint integration gets better with the Broadcast feature for slide shows that lets you show your presentations to other in their web browsers!
- Outlook 2010 get the Ribbon now so that it looks and feels like the rest of the Office suite. The new Conversations view nests all messages within a conversation together — and the Clean up Conversation option makes sure that you don’t get intimidated by conversations that have tons of e-mails within them. The new Quick Steps options lets you perform common actions with one click, thus saving you time.
- OneNote 2010 gets overall improvements including the Ribbon — there are plenty of interactive sharing and search options available now — and you can still store all sorts of content: clippings, maps, videos, sounds, URLs, and more. Custom tags allow you to track each sort of information being stored.
- Publisher 2010 also gets the Ribbon interface. Backstage view shows templates for flyers, brochures, business cards, calendars, etc. from Office Online, or even templates shared by other users. The new Visual Navigation pane works like PowerPoint’s Slides pane and shows thumbnail size representations of all pages in a publication. The new Stylistic Text allows you to add flourishes and other niceties to the font of selected text. There’s direct PDF and XPS export available.
- Access 2010 acts as a landing path for external data sources. Richer reports and forms can be created with one click, and Access formats better using improved Office Themes support. And you can publish databases online easily using SharePoint integration.
There are more improvements and new features in SharePoint and InfoPath too — looks like there’s so much to look forward too! And Office 2010 will launch with a web apps suite I discussed in an earlier post.
To learn more about Office 2010, and watch some cool videos, visit the new Office 2010 site.
Microsoft’s site has an updated Office 2010 section that provides plenty of info on what’s coming in the next release of the world’s most popular suite of office applications (see figure below).
Click on any of the program links on the left, and most of these lead to product videos about what’s new and improved for that particular program. In all, there’s plenty of content here for you to spend an hour — happy visiting!
My dictionary defines comparison as the act of examining resemblances, and this post looks exactly at that sort of act. So what are we comparing? Are these apples or oranges, or something more similar — maybe oranges and lemons? Well, you can decide that later — for now let us look what everyone in the online world has to say about Microsoft’s Web Apps and Google Docs. This promises to be very interesting!
Ian Paul of PC World thinks that “the future may be the cloud, but it also may be Microsoft that ushers us into that realm of possibility and imagination” — he adds: “Forget about the half measures of Office Live Workspace; Microsoft’s new Web apps will let you create, edit, and save documents right online. Here’s a quick head-to-head between Google and Microsoft Web apps”. Read more on the PC World site…
Reuters gets a little religious when it comments that “Microsoft delivers its own haymaker … a cloud-based version of its Windows Office suite of word-processing, spreadsheet, and PowerPoint software” — read more here…
So does Google have something else coming up? Is their upcoming Chrome OS going to make things different? There are no answers available right now, but plenty of thoughts, questions, and opinions everywhere.
As for Microsoft, they themselves haven’t rolled out invitations to their Web Apps for now, but you’ll need a Hotmail (Live) account to access the online suite when it’s available. The company has posted this video on YouTube (embedded below).
OK, I saved the best for the end! Microsoft will let you use their web apps for free — that’s a great turn of direction for a company that has championed paid software. Jon Fortt thinks so too on the Fortune magazine site when he says: “Microsoft – the king of paid software – will announce today that it is going to give a version of Office away for free online” — read that post too…
The Windows Club released Ultimate Windows Tweaker v 2.0 for Windows 7 and Windows Vista.
Ultimate Windows Tweaker v 2.0 is a freeware TweakUI-style utility that enhances and optmizes Windows 7 and Windows Vista systems, both 32-bit & 64-bit. You can download and use it as a portable application to customize your Windows as required. The creators of this program claim that “with judicious tweaking, it can make your system faster, more stable, and more secure with just a few mouse clicks”.
The programr detects whether you have Windows 7 or Windows Vista installed, and accordingly offers you the relevant tweak options only.
The name Microsoft Office Web Apps is not good enough, and Microsoft is looking for a new name for its upcoming competitor suite to Google Apps, featuring web-hosted versions of its Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote programs.
LiveSide reports about a 3rd party survey that Microsoft commissioned to help decide a new name — they ended up with several choices including Ensemble, Optro, ArcLight, Offsite, and Equipt. About Equipt, Mary Jo Foley thinks Microsoft is not ready to let go off that name; her quote: “Yes, they are in the midst of killing off the current Equipt subscription service. But why let an already trademarked name go to waste?”!!!
SeattlePI adds that “reports so far have suggested that the Web-based service will be free for individuals but not for companies. The product is expected to be rolled out alongside Microsoft Office 2010, for which there has been no official launch-date announcement”.
So what happens next? Watch this space.