Microsoft Office 2010: Suite-wide Office changes
Microsoft has made a number of changes to the entire Office 2010 suite, notably to the ‘ribbon’ menu system. Although not universally welcomed when it debuted in Office 2007, the ribbon has now had some subtle changes that make it more palatable.
However, it still requires some getting used to if your experience of Office to date has been of drop-down menus and sub-menus rather than tabbed panes, each with their own context-based menu options.
Ribbons on everything
In Office 2007, Microsoft made the most drastic change to Office in years with the introduction of the ribbon, which replaced Office’s menus and submenus with a graphical system that groups buttons together for common tasks in tabs. But Microsoft hedged its bets to a certain extent, because Outlook, OneNote, SharePoint and Publisher didn’t get the full Ribbon treatment. In Office 2010 the ribbon rules among all Office applications, making for a more consistent feel and easier navigation.
Many people will also appreciate the control over the ribbon that Office 2010 provides. You can customise it to a remarkable degree by adding or taking away features from individual tabs, hiding tabs, moving tabs to different locations, and even renaming tabs. Newcomers to the ribbon concept will probably find it helpful to visit the File, Help menu and choose Getting Started. Click on the option from the web page that pops up to see which ribbon options in Office 2010 (or 2007 if you have that version with a view to a future free upgrade) relate to the shortcuts you may be familiar with from Office 2003 or earlier.
Backstage View takes centre stage
Another new feature, Backstage View, appears when you click the File button on any Office application. Microsoft has sensibly decided to dump the Office orb button that was positioned top left of most Office 2007 applications, admitting that most users didn’t realise it was a toolbar button rather than merely decorative. Go to File and you’ll be given multiple document management and creation options (but you can simply press Ctrl, N for a new document of the same type).
Backstage View is an all-purpose way to perform common tasks such as saving, printing, sharing or gathering information about documents. It is a useful new feature that brings together important but disparate functions that previously were either hard to get to or were found in multiple locations. We found it a bit odd that from the File view you have to click on the Home tab (or press the Recent button and click on the item required) to go back to your document, however.
What you see in Backstage View varies depending on the application you’re in. For example, when using it in Word, you can open, save, close and print files; prepare a document for sharing; change document permissions; check versions of the document and much more. In Outlook, you can modify your email settings, clean up and archive your mailboxes, create rules, save files, save attachments and print.
Save and send options
One of Backstage’s most powerful features is the ‘Save & Send’ choice. This gives you various options for sharing a file with others. In Word you can send your current file as an email, save it to a SharePoint server, save it to your SkyDrive account or publish it as a blog post. In PowerPoint, you can also broadcast your presentation over the web (more on that later) or package your presentation into a playable CD.
Backstage View is also extensible, so that third parties can build add-ins for it. Your bank might develop a Backstage View add-in that lets its customers grab information from their accounts and import it into Excel.
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Click here for our review of Microsoft Office 2010 Web Apps.