The web has been abuzz the past few weeks with chatter about Microsoft’s announcement today at its Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans about the new version of Microsoft Office 2010. There’s even a mini-movie about its debut. Facing potential challenges from Google’s browser-based Apps products and its new Chrome OS, Microsoft has been touting its three screens strategy, which is the ability for products to synchronize across the phone, browser, and desktop, for some time now.
With the release of Office 2010, SharePoint Server 2010 and Visio 2010, we finally see the implementation of Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie’s mantra. We had the opportunity to see an in-depth demo of the new suite of products from Microsoft’s Group Product Manager for Office 2010, Chris Bryant. Here’s a complete breakdown of all the functionality that has been added, including screenshots:
The Move To The Browser
Most certainly a direct response to Google Apps, Microsoft is rolling out lightweight, FREE, Web browser versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote. All based in the cloud, the web-based versions of these products have fewer features than their desktop cousins but still give users basic tools to edit and change documents.
Microsoft PowerPoint 2010
PowerPoint has been upgraded not only with a new browser version, but also a slew of bells and whistles have been added to the desktop version. Users now have the capability of editing video and images within PowerPoint with a basic video editing tool (not so different from the capabilities of iMovie) and an image editing tool, which is like a basic, simple version of Adobe Photoshop. Microsoft has also added the ability for users to launch a WebEx-like live sharing feature with other users. So if you create a slideshow in PowerPoint, you can share it with other people in real-time (which can be run on top of Sharepoint).
Microsoft® PowerPoint® 2010 delivers more new and exciting ways to create and share dynamic presentations with any audience. Improved audio and visual capabilities help you tell a crisp, cinematic story that’s as easy to create as it is powerful to watch. New, easy-to-use tools help you polish your presentations to help you keep your audience’s attention even longer. Almost-anywhere access to PowerPoint 2010 from your smartphone or the Web allows you to simultaneously work on presentations with other people. Simply put, it’s never been easier to express your ideas with PowerPoint 2010.
Here’s what the video editing tools look like in PowerPoint:
To share a deck with other users, you send an email to individuals with a link. Once they click the link, they will see the slideshow within the browser. This feature can also be used on a mobile phone’s browser. You can also create a slideshow in the desktop version and then publish it to the web version to access it via the browser. The browser version of PowerPoint doesn’t include the video editing features, but most of the functionality of 2008 is included in the browser version.
Microsoft Excel 2010
Excel spreadsheets can now run in the browser, and similar to PowerPoint, spreadsheets can be published to the browser via the desktop version. The browser version of Excel has limited features, but offers more in-depth functionality than Google Spreadsheets. Microsoft has added a particularly innovative feature called Sparklines, which gives a visual snapshot image of a data trend over time within a cell. You can also share Excel via the browser with other users and set special permissions on who can access the document.
Microsoft® Excel® 2010 makes it possible to analyze, manage, and share information in more ways than ever before. Track and highlight important data trends with new data analysis and visualization tools. Work more effectively with multiple people by simultaneously editing Excel files over the Web. Access important data on the go using Office Excel Mobile or the Office Excel Web Application. Whether you’re producing financial reports or managing personal expenses, Excel 2010 gives you the proficiency and flexibility to accomplish your goals
Here’s what the web version of Excel looks like:
Microsoft Word 2010
Microsoft® Word 2010 gives you the best of all worlds: enhanced features to create professional-quality documents, more ways to work together with multiple people, and almost anywhere access to your files. Create and organize documents in less time, with less effort. Store your documents online, then access and edit Word 2010 from practically any Web browser. Word 2010 gives you tools that let you capture your best ideas whenever and wherever they occur.
Bryant says that the number one piece of feedback from users producing documents on Microsoft Word is that they want to preserve the look and feel of a document created in the desktop version in the browser. Microsoft calls this “document fidelity” and created the browser version of MS Word accordingly. In the browser, documents retain the same look and feel as in the desktop. The browser version still has the “ribbon user interface,” where you can change fonts, size, formatting, styles etc.
An image of the web version of Word:
Microsoft has also updated the desktop version to have collaborative features so that multiple users can be editing a document at once. This collaboration is not available in the web version, unfortunately. Microsoft says that users don’t want this feature but this might be a move to protect the Office revenue model.
When two people are editing the same document (in the desktop version) at the same time, Word will notify each user when there are changes that need to be synced with their document. The copy/paste function of the desktop version has also received an upgrade, where you can see see a live preview for the paste function. The paste function also has an advanced option to create and insert screenshots. To make moving around a long document easier, Word now has a visual navigation pane and section header breakdown which makes it easy to jump around different sections of a document.
Microsoft Outlook 2010
Microsoft® Outlook® 2010 gives you tools you need to stay on top of practically everything. Save valuable inbox space with improved e-mail conversation tracking and management. Compress long e-mail threads into a few conversations that can be categorized, filed, ignored, or cleaned up with a few clicks. From advanced e-mail organization and search to a completely redesigned look, Outlook 2010 provides you with a world-class experience to stay productive and stay in touch with all of your networks.
Outlook 2010 now has a ribbon user interface, like Word, PowerPoint and Excel. The UI of email conversations has been upgraded to look almost like a message tree, allowing users a more visual view of sent and incoming emails. Search functionality has been improved as well, making it much easier to find content. Also, you can preview calendars in emails and choose to ignore selective email conversations.
Microsoft SharePoint Workspace 2010
Groove 2007 has a new name: Microsoft® SharePoint Workspace 2010. More than a new name, SharePoint Workspace 2010 expands the boundaries of collaboration by offering fast access, online and off, to all SharePoint content. Synchronize SharePoint libraries and lists to your computer with just a few clicks, and then easily update documents and forms offline. When you’re done, you can be confident that everything will automatically synchronize to the server when you’re back online. Usher in an entirely new way of working with SharePoint Workspace 2010.
Like Outlook, Sharepoint now gets a ribbon UI, making the document-hosting product more similar to Microsoft’s flagship products, like Word. You can tag authors of documents now and can share documents and files more easily.
Microsoft says that its browser versions have been tested on all major browsers aside from internet Explorer, including Firefox and Safari. Office 2010 is still being tested and reworked to function on Chrome. Microsoft also announced that it is streamlining the number of Office editions from eight to five. Office Web applications will be available in three ways: through Windows Live, where consumers will have access to Office Web applications at no cost; via on-premises versions; and via Microsoft Online Services, where customers will be able to purchase a subscription of MS Office. Microsoft says Office 2010 will be available in the first half of next year.
The key part of all of this news is the free, browser-based versions of Microsoft’s most popular Office products. Bryant says that Microsoft expects the browser products to be especially popular amongst student, but I think that the web-based applications will be hugely popular in the enterprise space as well, as long as there are security precautions taken to put documents in a secure part of the cloud.
But as more and more businesses are becoming comfortable with trusting cloud environments, Microsoft’s move to the browser could pay off in a big way, especially because it’s so easy to use both the desktop and browser versions of products interchangeably. The more successful Microsoft is in its browser strategy, the more they validate Google’s approach in the space, which will eventually put price pressure on Office
Microsoft OneNote 2010
Microsoft® OneNote® 2010 gives you the ultimate digital notebook experience. Store and share notes in one single, easy-to-access location. Capture text, photos, video and audio files so your thoughts and ideas – as well as any other important information – are available when you need them. You can even take OneNote 2010 on the road with you by accessing Notebooks from the Web or smartphone, making everything you need available from virtually anywhere
Microsoft Publisher 2010
Microsoft® Publisher 2010 helps you create, personalize, and share a wide range of great-looking publications and marketing materials with the world. Save time and money while communicating your brand’s message loud and clear. Deliver professional-quality results without having a background in graphic design, whether you’re creating brochures, newsletters, e-mails, postcards, or greeting cards. Using Publisher 2010, you’ll get the job done right the first time around.
Microsoft Access 2010
Microsoft® Access® 2010 is all about simplicity, with ready-to-go templates and powerful tools that stay relevant as your data changes and grows. Amplify the power of your data by making it easier to track, report, and share with others – either through your computer or on the Web. Access 2010 empowers you to make the most of your information, with fewer barriers and at a lower cost.
Microsoft InfoPath 2010
Office Communicator 2007 R2
Microsoft Visio 2010
Microsoft® Visio® 2010 takes diagramming to a new level with dynamic, data-driven visualization tools and templates, enhanced process management capabilities, and advanced Web sharing. Bring real-time data together from multiple sources, including Excel and Microsoft SQL Server, in one powerful diagram using vibrant graphics like icons and data bars. Manage processes with sub-processes and rules and logic validation to ensure accuracy and consistency across the organization. Create SharePoint workflows and export them to Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 for real-time execution and monitoring. Share refreshable, data-linked diagrams over the Web with anyone, even those who don’t own Visio.