Why Office 2010? Part I

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by Lori Cunningham


Editors Note:  We have 3 exciting contests going on right now, enter to win at the end of  each review.  Good Luck!

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I have been enjoying Microsoft Office 2010 for most of the year now.  Ever since I can remember, I have always looked forward to Microsoft’s new Office enhancements.
Remember when Microsoft Office was Office 3.0?  Probably not, most people don’t even realize the Office Suite started off without the year in it’s name.  Microsoft typically updates their Office suite every 3 years or so.
With the popularity of Google Docs, some people are wondering if Microsoft Office is even applicable today.  Microsoft Office is very pertinent today, offering more robust features and analysis than Google Docs’ free software can offer.  Besides being free, the biggest advantage Google Docs can offer is that your documents reside in the cloud.  Microsoft too offers cloud storage through their free Sky Drive service.  I have used Sky Drive for several years and I am able to edit my documents on the fly.
Honestly, my first impression of Office 2010 was, “huh, not much has changed.”  Yes, there are some great enhancements here and there but nothing that seemed to change drastically.  Really, only Outlook had the most changes.

However, in writing this review, I found a number of nuggets that are pretty cool and well worth mentioning.  That is one of the big advantages of writing reviews, you dive more deeply into the products to ensure you are providing a useful review.  This article is the first of a two part series that will highlight the most useful features now available in each of the applications of Office 2010 suite.

Office 2010 Overall

Throughout the Office suite I found two major changes.  The first major change is not really as much of a change as it is an extension of a previous change.  The Ribbon introduced in Windows 2007, which replaced the toolbars,  has now been expanded offering further features and most importantly, customization.  The Ribbon makes it easier for users by grouping similar tasks.  As with previous toolbars, you can now move, add, or delete menu items as desired. You even have the ability to rename tabs.  The Ribbon is now available throughout all of the applications of the Office suite.

The second major change is the Backstage.  The Backstage is the area where you can Save, Save As, Open, Close, and  Print your documents.  But the added benefits include:

  • New – where you can easily open a blank document or choose from many templates.  After clicking on the desired template, you’ll be taken to many folders with different types of templates.  The templates are pulled from Office.com.
  • Recent – shows you the most recent documents you opened in an application.  You have the option to show the most recent 20 documents/spreadsheets.  It also shows you the folders that the most recent documents/spreadsheets are filed.
  • Info – tells you the combatability of your document, who has permission to it, helps you prepare the document for sharing so your document is checked for accessibility and combatability before you share it, and version control.
  • Print – you see the Preview of your document right from this tab, very handy.
  • Save & Send – this new feature is a winner.  You can send your document in an e-mail, share on the web, save on a sharepoint, publish on a Blog, You can prepare your document to be sent as a non-changeable PDF document, as a changeable XPS document, or via the Internet fax machine.  Other interesting features available for PowerPoint will be covered in the next article.

Now, let’s take a look at some key new enhancements in each of the core applications of Office 2010, starting with Outloook in this article:


Outlook has some great new changes to make reading mail more efficient.  Some of the key features include:

Conversation View

This is a very helpful feature in which all conversations you’ve had surrounding an original e-mail are now grouped together.  Now you can look at the subject of the e-mail and click on each person’s response.  Conversation view is a great way to simplify and declutter your inbox.

Conversations in the Inbox message list

“Clean Up”

Clean up is a helpful tool to help you clean up your inbox.  Clean Up will thin out long threaded conversations and delete some long-threaded parts of a message which are redundant.  Having less messages per conversation containing only relevant messages is very helpful.

In fact, even if someone changes the conversation, Clean Up will recognize and group the e-mail’s together.  Awesome.  It’s like having an intern clean your mail up for you.

Ignore Conversation

By pressing Ignore, you can send all current and future e-mail messages within a conversation to your Deleted Items folder.  This is very helpful if you received a warning e-mail about some possible scam, a message sent to you and 30 others.  Soon enough, one by one, you’ll start receiving messages how one of the recipients went to Snopes.com and found out that the warning was a scam.  Just right click on the conversation and press ignore.

Mail Tips

Mail tips  gives you “tips” before you send a message.  For example, mail tips will tell you if someone already has an out-MailTip alert for out of office recipientof-office note…including any additional details…like who she says to contact before you send your e-mail.  So you can send the e-mail to the new contact for a quicker response.    Mail tips also give you a visual warning if you are going to send out an e-mail to a group of individuals.  It will tell you how many people in the group to confirm you want to send it to that many people.

Social Connector

The social connector is an excellent new tool.  This plug-in provides a new pane at the bottom of each e-mail which highlights all of your latest communications with the sender, including e-mail’s, meetings, updates of social media sites, attachments, RSS feeds, Windows Live, Microsoft Sharepoint, and other third-party tools.  Included social media sites include Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn.

The Outlook Social Connector appears as a horizontal pane, called the People Pane, at the bottom of each message. The People Pane does more than just connect you to social networking sites; it also acts as  command central for your communications with people in Outlook.  A  very handy tool to see what is going on with the receiver of your mail.  A great way to stay connected without having to visit they myriad of social network sites or burrowing through your mailbox to see what was talked about in a previous e-mail.

Reduce Attached Photos

After attaching a picture(s) to an e-mail, you can go to File and select Info. to reduce the size of your picture(s).  This is a great help because e-mails with attachments that are too big are often bounced back to you.  Reducing the size of your pictures first gives you more confidence that your recipient will receive it.

Quick Steps

Quick Steps are programmed steps that help clean up your inbox by filing automating redundant steps you do every day.

For example if you receive ongoing e-mails about a trade show you’ll be attending, you can flag all incoming e-mail’s about the show and move it to your specific trade show folder.  That way, you can look at all your trade show e-mail’s at one time, when you make the time to do so.  If you want to ensure you catch all the e-mail’s from your business partner…or even mom…you can mark these messages as important and transfer them to their respective folders automatically.  This is a great time saver and way to declutter your inbox.  In addition, you can easily create new automated quick steps as needs arise.


As you can see, there are a number of enhancements in Office 2010.  I will continue highlighting the newest enhancements of Microsoft Office 2010 for Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and One Note when I post the next article.

Interesting in knowing more about Windows 7?  See our review on Windows 7, a 3 part series, posted previously:

Windows 7:  Media Center

Windows 7:  Useful Features

Windows 7:  Photos & Videos


A Mom’s Perspective

In short — if, like me, you live in e-mail, you’ll want this suite.  There are enough ehanced features that make upgrading worthwhile.  To learn more about Office 2010  Excel, PowerPoint,  Word, and OneNote…

…be sure to sign up for our e-mail list to see ensure you receive the next article entitled, “Why Office 2010?  Part II.


*Microsoft provided me with a download of Office 2010 in exchange for my honest opinion.

Pictures Source:  Office.com

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