15 Jaw-Dropping New Features In Microsoft Office 2010

Office 2010 On The Horizon

Microsoft is set to unleash Office 2010, with the business launch slated for May 12 and the consumer launch expected a short time after.

The productivity application suite has had a massive refresh since Office 2007, packing in a host of new features and functions, including moving applications like Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote into the cloud.

In beta since November, Office 2010 has been downloaded 7.5 million times and more than 650,000 suggestions, compliments or complaints have been made, said Chris Bryant, Microsoft’s Director of Office Product Management.

Here's a look at 15 brand spanking new features that caught our fancy.


Consider it ’mission control’ for Office 2010 applications. Excel, Word, Outlook, PowerPoint and other applications in Microsoft Office 2010 feature a Backstage area where users can send, save, share and perform a host of other functions without closing out the current document. Backstage is also the nerve center where users can get real-time information about their documents and applications.

Here is the Backstage area in Outlook.

Backstage Print

Printing is also performed from the Backstage area, which offers access to a live print preview and printing options.

’I can see what I’m going to get before I get it,’ said Microsoft’s Bryant.

Shown here is the Backstage printing area in Excel 2010.

Backstage Info

Backstage plays host to a plethora of information and actions regarding a specific document. In Word, for example, users see pertinent document information down the right hand side topped with a thumbnail of the document itself. In the main window, users can control document permissions and go back to previous versions of a document.

Shown here is the Backstage info section in Microsoft Word 2010.

Outlook Quick Steps

Outlook 2010 lets users set up what Microsoft is calling ’Quick Steps,’ which live in the middle of the ribbon. Quick Steps are essentially pre-defined macros that users create a button for, which assigns a short cut. For example, Bryant said, if a user changes jobs or responsibilities and receives an e-mail regarding the previous position, he or she can set up a Quick Step that when clicked will auto-generate a forward to the current person in that position, and will generate a reply alerting the center to the new contact person and delete the message. Up to 10 actions can be carried out in each Quick Step.

PowerPoint Broadcast

PowerPoint 2010 offers what Bryant called a ’just in time show and tell.’ Essentially, PowerPoint Broadcast lets users broadcast a PowerPoint presentation on the fly. The cloud-based service is free; all users need is a Windows Live ID. A user builds a PowerPoint presentation, connects to the Broadcast service and sends the presentation to the cloud. From there, a URL is generated and the link can be sent to users in an IM, in an e-mail or can be copied and pasted. When the viewer clicks the link, it launches the presentation in their browser so they can view the presentation along with the presenter.

PowerPoint Photos

Microsoft Office 2010 eliminates the need to paste and undo when it comes to editing photos and adding them to PowerPoint presentations. Now, a photo editor is included in PowerPoint. Users have access to most common photo editing tools, Bryant said. Users can crop, chop and change the background of images; correct the colors; add artistic effects; and perform a host of other photo editing actions without leaving the PowerPoint application.

PowerPoint Video

Along with adding photo-editing capabilities to PowerPoint, Microsoft Office 2010 also ups the ante with new video editing capabilities. According to Bryant, users can now trim video down directly in PowerPoint to shorten videos; effects can be added and colors changed; and video can be recompressed.

Outlook Conversation View

Originally a default setting for Office 2010, Microsoft changed the Outlook Conversation View option and made it so users had to select it. The Conversation View collapses the inbox based on conversation IDs, not based on subject lines. That means a user can see all e-mails that are part of a single conversation collapsed into one chain, cleaning up inbox clutter and keeping the conversation flowing. Conversation View reduces inbox clutter and ease email management, letting users view only the most recent message in a discussion or move, flag for follow up or delete entire conversations in one fell swoop.

Outlook 2010 also adds new features like previewing voicemail in the inbox where the first few words of a voicemail message are transferred to text in an e-mail and each word is hot linked to let users jump to a certain point in a message. There’s also a new Live Calendar Preview in Outlook that lets users view a meeting invite and see their calendar all from the inbox without having to jockey between the inbox and calendar tabs.

Outlook Contact Card

The new contact card in Outlook in Office 2010 shows contacts’ and users’ presence, meeting and contact options and other pertinent information when the user moves the cursor over an e-mail-sender’s name in Outlook.

Outlook Social Connector

Outlook Social Connector does just what it says it does, provide a social networking took available in users’ inboxes. Users can pivot e-mails based on people. The pane at the bottom of the screen shows that person’s image, along with thumbnails of others on the e-mail string. From that view users’ can view attachments from a single sender and review e-mail exchanges. Additionally, when connected to SharePoint it gives access to social feeds and collaboration tools. Facebook and LinkedIn information integration is also available.

Outlook Web App

Along with the traditional Outlook, Office 2010 offers an Outlook Web App where Outlook e-mail is available in the cloud. Here’s a look at the Outlook Web App.

Excel Web App In Windows Live

Microsoft Office 2010 also offers an Excel Web App that offers the same functionality of a desktop-based Excel app in the cloud. Here’s a look at the Excel Web App via Windows Live.

Excel Web App In SharePoint

Like from Windows Live, Office 2010 Web Apps can be viewed, edited, saved and shared in Microsoft SharePoint. Here’s how an Excel Web Apps document looks in SharePoint.

SharePoint Shared Documents

Users can upload and share documents via SharePoint. Here’s a look at some shared documents in SharePoint via Team Web Site. All types Office documents can be shared.

Word Ribbon

Applications in Microsoft Office 2010 feature updated ribbons, the options bar that sits atop the document and application. The ribbon in Word 2010 (shown here) is customizable, meaning users can create new tabs and new groups of tabs. From there, the IT department can build a standard ribbon template to distribute and, if needed, switch back to the default settings.