Word 2010 Preview

Word 2010 builds on the success of Word 2007 with some nice refinements to the Fluent interface ("The Ribbon") and even better collaboration tools.

The Ribbon

Word 2010's Ribbon is a little tighter and quite a lot more customizable than the Ribbon you saw in Word 2007.

The Ribbon in Word 2010

One of the first things you'll notice is that the Office Button (AKA "Pizza Button") that was at the top left corner in Word 2007 is gone again and the File menu appears to be back.  The file tab in Office 2010 is actually a new feature called "Backstage" which contains all of the tools that the old File Menu had...print, save, share, options, etc.

The Backstage screen includes a lot of interesting information about your document including properties like page and word count, total editing time, and even information like the date/time the document was last printed.

Beyond the Backstage the new Ribbon is just cleaner and a little tighter.  You can still minimize it by double-clicking any of the tabs but now the Ribbon also offers you an icon on the right (the up-chevron next to the blue questionmark button that launches Help) to minimize/restore the Ribbon. 

Right-click anywhere in the Ribbon and you'll get a welcome addition...

Customize the Ribbon ...a context menu that includes "Customize the Ribbon".  Now you can add or remove tabs, and add or remove commands to the Ribbon to customize it for your liking.  This is in response to the overwhelming feedback Microsoft got from folks who didn't like how inflexible the 2007 Ribbon was.

And once you have the customized Ribbon you like, you can even export those customizations into a file that can be imported on other Office 2010 machines, so you don't have to reinvent the wheel every time.

Navigation Pane

One of my favorite features, the Document Map, has become the Navigation Pane in Office 2010.  And not only did it change names but it gained some capability.  The new Navigation Pane makes it easy for you to see all of the sections of your document (as defined by the headings) but it also makes it easy for you to rearrange,Navigation Pane in Word 2010 delete and insert sections to your document.  You can even start to type a new section title right in the Navigation Pane and have it inserted as a heading into the document.

Looking for something in the document? Type the word or phrase into the search bar on the Navigation Pane and the sections containing that text will be highlighted for you.  You can even choose to display the search results in thumbnail view or, interestingly enough, in Phrase View which shows the found terms in context.  Really nifty stuff!

Real Time Collaboration and Co-Authoring

One of the other features a busy law office will like is the real time collaboration.  Two or more people working on the same document?  You'll never again have to call Phil and ask if he's done and can close the document so you can work in it.  Now Word 2010 allows multiple users to edit the same document at the same time.  You'll never get the dialog box that tells you the document is locked for editing and suggesting you open a read-only copy again.

Currently the Co-Authoring feature requires the document to be stored on SharePoint 2010, but there is an expectation that the capability will be expanded to support documents stored on Microsoft's SkyDrive as well.  Stay tuned!

Word 2010 also does automatic offline caching.  Anytime you open a shared document Word will cache a copy of it to your local hard drive.  Handy if you're working on a mobile computer like a laptop, netbook or Tablet PC and sometimes need to disconnect from the network but still work on your documents.  When you reconnect the device to your network later Word will sync and merge your changes later.

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