November 18, 2009

Microsoft Office 2010 review

We reviewed the Office 2010 Technical Preview earlier this past summer and we liked what we saw. There isn't a whole lot of changes between the two, but just a few minor interface tweaks. If you wish to read our full review of the Office 2010 Technical Preview, you can do so here. We aren't intending on writing another review since this current beta 2 release is mostly the same, so the old review still is accurate. This pictorial review of the beta 2 leaked version is build number 14.0.4514.1007, which is very close to the 14.0.4536.1000 build that Microsoft will release within the next few days. If we stumble across any new features in the new leaked beta 2 build or in the official release Microsoft has been hinting at next week, we will be sure to do a complete writeup.

It should be mentioned that these new builds that have surfaced require a product key during the first step of installation, which is different from previous versions where you could skip entering a product key during installation. Also, product keys that were given out as part of the Technical Preview a few months ago still work and activate with these beta 2 builds.

Like stated above, the only major changes from the Technical Preview that we can see is interface tweaks. In the Technical Preview, the first tab in the ribbon was of the Office suite logo, but now it is just "File" and the "backstage" interface that is triggered with this button has been tweaked too. In the Open section of Word's backstage menu, there is an area where you can click to open an unsaved document that was auto-saved. This is useful for cases of power loss or some error that causes Word to crash and close.

Microsoft Outlook's color scheme in this beta 2 release has been significantly changes, now with a more gray-blue background color along the left menu pane and bordering the application itself.

Microsoft has also redesigned all of the icons for each program in the Office 2010 beta 2 build, as shown in a screen shot below.


UPDATE (11/17/09): We have installed the build that is available on TechNet & MSDN, which is build 14.0.4536.1000. There are no visible changes except for the About screen of the individual applications. The About screen of the official Microsoft released beta reflects the new build number but also has Microsoft Office 2010 Professional Plus listed as the version instead of just Office 2010 Professional as it was listed in previous builds. We were also able to successfully save to and edit files saved on the Office Web apps from the SkyDrive integration in the Share sub-menu item in the File menu.

Unlike the above leaked build, we were not asked for a product key during installation, but we were prompted to activate on first use of Office 2010. It seems like only the new beta keys work for this released build and older technical preview product keys do not.

The screen shot below is of the new About menu and the working SkyDrive feature:

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