If you listen carefully you can hear the tectonic plates shifting. This article on Office 2010 is being written using Word 2010 on a laptop running Windows 7, both in 64-bit as it happens since this version of Office will be the first to come in both 32-bit and 64-bit flavours. Of course, was I using my corporate supplied desktop it would be an article on Office 2010 written on Word 2003 running on Windows XP and I'd be experiencing random restarts every few days, but that's an entirely different story!
No, what we need to remember here is that these are important times for Microsoft. Windows 7, the first Microsoft operating system since Bill Gates effectively relinquished his day-to-day role at the company, is due this year and needs to be awesome. Early signs suggest it's on the right track mind; pre-orders for the new OS (albeit at discounted prices) have soared to unprecedented levels, while the reaction from the press, the industry and users as a whole has been overwhelmingly positive. One could argue that they're just pleased to see the back of Vista, but momentum is on Microsoft's side now.
Following Windows 7 will be another of Microsoft's cornerstone products Office 2010. It won't be appearing at retail until next year, but the Technical Preview version I'm using now has been around for a little while now and though Microsoft is promising more features at launch, it's clear that this code is in a reasonably advanced stage already. Unlike Vista, Office 2007 wasn't perceived to be such a dullard. Apart from some typically challenging pricing (by which I mean expensive) it was another solid effort. However, some elements, such as the newly introduced ‘Ribbon' interface, took some getting used to and weren't universal to every application. It has been tweaked further in Office 2010, as well as being migrated to every application in the suite.
Quite apart from the new 64-bit support, which is very welcome, Office 2010 is crammed full of new features. This is to be expected given it's also crammed full of applications - ten in all if purchasing a volume license for the Professional Plus version. Pricing hasn't been announced as yet, but we do at least know how each package will line-up, as shown below.
Since Office is such a large suite I'm not even going to attempt to cover everything, but instead focus on what are generally agreed to be the core applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Microsoft would have us add OneNote to that list, but for 90 per cent of people the above are still the four essential applications they either use regularly, or at least come into contact with - we're looking at you PowerPoint!
Before those, however, I'm going to look at some new features that are common to all four, starting with the grandly titled Microsoft Backstage View.