Microsoft Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, Office Web Apps and 5 Questions to Ask NOW

Updated: May 13, 2010

Focus has followed the promises of Office 2010 and Office Web Apps since they were originally discussed by Microsoft and others. Now that the offerings have been officially announced and some have begun shipping, a closer look at specific changes and challenges is in order. (The lists below are by no means comprehensive -- some published reports indicate that Office 2010 has more than 100 enhancements and new features. Further, the accuracy of the lists below is definitely subject to change, particularly where the not-yet-completely-available Office Web Apps are concerned.)

Office 2010's new and/or improved features include the following, according to published reports.

  • Support for co-authoring, or letting multiple people work on the same document simultaneously.
  • A Social Connector for integration with Facebook and/or LinkedIn.
  • A modified, customizable version of the much-loved-and-much-hated "ribbon" interface found in Office 2007 for all Office 2010 applications.
  • Inclusion of the popular OneNote note-taking program.
  • A revised Outlook e-mail client with greater management abilities and support for threaded "conversations" similar to those supported by, for example, Google's Gmail.
  • Easier integration of video into PowerPoint presentations.
  • Improved video and photo support across all applications in the suite.

New SharePoint 2010 features reportedly include the following.

  • Easier site editing.
  • Data aggregation and tagging abilities.
  • Twitter- and Facebook-like tools for sharing information among groups and teams.
  • Improved integration with Microsoft's Fast search engine.
  • Improved integration with Microsoft's PerformancePoint business intelligence (BI) software.

Challenges to Microsoft's new offerings identified in early coverage of the new releases include the following.

  • Printing can be slow and inconsistent; pre-print preview of documents can't be skipped, and can slow printing considerably, especially of graphics-intensive content.
  • The Web Apps interface is difficult to use, with files either not opening at all or requiring users to save them in different formats before being able to open or edit them.
  • Web Apps editing features not always as robust as those found in premise-based Office applications.
  • Microsoft's frequently maligned spam filter reportedly shows little to no improvement.
  • Microsoft's Business Process Online Suite (BPOS), a combination of online version of the Exchange e-mail server and SharePoint, will not be available as a fully hosted offering until 2011.
  • Pricing -- retail pricing for Office 2010 is as high as $500 for a packaged copy of Office Professional, with no upgrade pricing available. (Downloaded versions and other editions are less costly.)
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