“Most people just want to open a document and start typing”
Office 2010 is something of a conundrum. First the good news: it is the fastest selling version of Office in history, according to US analyst Forrester. Half of the businesses the firm surveyed in March had started the migration process, and the “vast majority” of the rest planned to upgrade in the future. According to Gartner …
Finally we can comment, not very nice to 'block' comments when this article was on the front page ;-)
MS has definitely made some very important improvements when it comes to Office 2010. I'm not merely talking about the features and options; but also everything around it. For example; a few years ago I would give my customers the choice between OpenOffice or MS Office. Where the immediately noticeable difference was obvious: "if you want MS Office its going to cost extra".
Nowadays I provide people with a choice; "here's LibreOffice ("formerly known as blah blah blah") and I also included a demo of MS Office 2010, which you can use free of charge for a couple of months".
So far most of the customers eventually picked up MS Office 2010 after hearing what it would cost them, how they could keep their software up to date and (in a single occasion;) how long it would be supported.
I myself made the jump from OpenOffice to MS Office 2010 some time ago and quite frankly I don't see myself go back again anytime soon. While LibreOffice still has several (smaller) advantages over MS Office 2010, together they don't weigh up anymore against the almost limitless options which you get with MS Office 2010. An example of such an advantage would be using tables in the text processor. In Writer I can easily define one table as containing financial values. So from there on I can enter whatever value I want and it will be automatically formatted in a 'financial notation'. Word 2010 however doesn't have this feature. The only direct way to do this is to enter a formula which' results can be formatted. But of course the moment you enter a value again the formula is gone.
And for those of you worrying that I make it look as if Word can't do this; no worries. I'm well aware that you can easily embed whole Excel spreadsheets which do give you this kind of functionality. Heck, if you want to you could also easily create a macro to "reformat" the cells in a mere table. Office 2010 has you covered, sure, but you'll have to admit that LibreOffice' Writer goes the extra mileage in this case.
Still, in the overall I think MS has done a recommendable job. First the demo option; try before you buy. Its a winner. The environment itself also provides you with lots of options to make your documents look right, even if you're no "graphic artist". I especially like their new "html -alike" approach by applying styles to your document(s) which can easily be changed on a document level, thus changing the entire appearance of your document at once. Sometimes that gives much better results than trying to mess with small individual parts yourself.
And I think MS really went way ahead of themselves with the embedded online access. If you have a Windows Live ID (you already have one when you can logon to MSN or Hotmail or such) you also have access to their SkyDrive service. 5Gb worth of online storage. Storage which can be immediately used from within Office out of the box.
It gets better; send an Office document to someone who doesn't own Office? Sure, there's always the PDF format, I use this heavily myself. But if the other party also has a Windows Live ID you can simply save your document online, and have them access it using the online Office applications, free of charge for anyone who has a Windows Live ID. Granted; the online applications don't support every feature which your desktop applications do, but IMO its sure a big step in the right direction.
SO summing up... I think Office 2010 has a major impact. I think that in combination with Windows 7 it gives you an ideal virtual Office environment. There is just so much you can do, and instead of "the old days" all the information on how you can get the most out of Office is also available for free (for example check out the Office blogs on: http://blogs.office.com/).
When looking at the upcoming Win8 preview I can't help wonder if we now see Microsoft at its peek. I think they are going to have a very hard time "topping" both Windows 7 and Office 2010. IMVHO of course.