Microsoft Office 2010 Beta Gives a Glimpse of What’s to Come

November 29, 2009 Updated: November 29, 2009

Backstage view in PowerPoint 2010.  (Courtesy of Microsoft)
Backstage view in PowerPoint 2010. (Courtesy of Microsoft)
Microsoft released its beta version of Microsoft Office 2010 this month, which can be downloaded for free. The widely-used office suite has received a few tweaks here and there, but there is very little that is actually new.

Microsoft Office includes a variety of applications for word processing, creating presentations, making charts, and so on. It remains one of the leading office suites and its various applications have a wide user-base.

It has been smooth sailing for Microsoft until recently. As free software and Web-based applications continue to rival its flagship products, the company may see trouble on the horizon in the coming year. The Microsoft Office suite, which has up until recently been a primary product for many users, is in a particular pinch as programs such as Google Docs begin to rev their engines for competition.

This is the challenge Microsoft faces as it prepares the next generation of Office. The 2010 release is its first full release since Office 2007—unless you factor in the Mac version in 2008—and frankly, not much has changed.

Keep in mind that this review is of the beta release of Office 2010 and not the final release, so there could still be some changes in the works. Still, the current beta should include the bulk of what’s to come.

New in Office 2010

The most anticipated new feature in Office 2010 is its integration with the Web. Although details are still vague, along with Office 2010’s desktop release, Microsoft will also release Web-based versions of applications including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

There is also a new feature that will allow multiple users to simultaneously work together on files over the Web. There are currently numerous free applications that do this, such as EtherPad, but it’s still nice to see this incorporated into Office. However, this feature was not available for use in the beta release.

Features for integration with mobile devices are also in the works.

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