Microsoft Office 2010 beta review

The beta of Microsoft Office 2010 is now available for the public to download. We find out what’s new since the Technical Preview rolled out over the summer.

The limited Technical Preview of Office 2010 went out to several thousand testers in the middle of July and now a public beta test programme has started with anyone able to download and try out Office 2010.

But six months ahead of its final release, what can we say about Office 2010 and will it be worth the cost of upgrading when it finally hits the shelves?

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Building on the radical changes made with Office 2007, when Microsoft unveiled the "Fluent" user interface, Office 2010 presents the most unified face it has ever had. The ribbon is in every application and they all have a new Backstage area, which you use to open, save or print your documents or to set options about the applications. The roundly criticised "Office Button" which hid the file menu in Office 2007 has been replaced by a simple button labelled "File" leading to clear pages which lay out all the options you have for working with the document as a whole.

For this version of Office, Microsoft has obviously concentrated on improving usability and future-proofing the suite by adding features that you will really want to use, even if you don't do so at the moment. It has also invested heavily in collaboration technologies particularly in the area of co-authoring documents and in integration with SharePoint.

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