Microsoft Office 2010 review

The new version of Office is here at last, but was it worth the wait?

microsoft office 2010 professional
It's been a long-time coming, but how does Office 2010 measure up?

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publisher 2010 splash

Office Professional also includes Access and Publisher, plus a handful of utilities, the most useful of which is the Office Picture Manager.

This gives you a picture viewer with a choice of thumbnail and filmstrip view and some simple but useful image editing tools: you can automatically correct colour and brightness for multiple images using what Microsoft says are improved algorithms, or you can manually edit the brightness, contrast, midtones and colour, plus you can crop, rotate and compress images or remove red eye.

These are the same tools you get inside the various Office apps, although they're better than what's in Publisher and it's useful to be able to edit multiple images in the same interface.

office picture manager 2010


PICTURE MANAGER: The same image editing tools as in Word, PowerPoint and Excel are in the Picture Manager - one way to use them with Publisher


Publisher is something of the odd one out in Office 2010. It's packed with improvements: dynamic guides that suggest where the element you're dragging could align with what's already on the page, content building blocks you can customise with your own styles and save to use in multiple documents, multiple layouts for captions on images, live previews of what text and objects will look like with a specific format, Excel-style table styles you can apply quickly and the option to hide the 'scratch' area for objects you haven't positioned yet when you want to just see the finished page.

With OpenType fonts you get key OpenType features: true small caps, number styles, ligatures, improved kerning and stylistic alternates.

You can create a picture placeholder the size you want your image to be, pick the image to use and use the automatic cropping tool to pan and zoom to get the right section of the image in place.

publisher 2010


PRINT: Backstage's print preview makes sure you don't print double-sided documents flipped the wrong way


You can easily replace images and even swap two images around on the page. Combine the new tools with the addition of lots of useful templates, the way Publisher takes advantage of the ribbon interface to expose all of the tools clearly (context-sensitive tabs and drop-down galleries with different options work extremely well) and the superb print preview on the Backstage menu (which even lets you see both sides of a two-sided document using transparency so you know it will all print the right way up) and you get a DTP program that's both powerful and easy to use.

But some of the best image tools from the rest of Office are missing.

Publisher doesn't have quite as many picture styles as Word, PowerPoint and even Excel; it doesn't have artistic effects, colour saturation or tone tools - and it doesn't have the Remove Background tool.

All these would be ideal in Publisher, but the time it took the team to implement the ribbon meant they couldn't adopt the latest tools from the other apps - like OneNote this leaves you with niggling disappointments.

Access gets a mix of tools to help you set up a database more quickly (by including pre-built components, adding related fields like all the pasts of an address at once, including content from websites like Bing Maps for addresses and storing images in a gallery), improved visuals (including themes and Excel-style conditional formatting) and enhancements to macros.

access 2010


ACCESS: Put an Access database together faster with standard building blocks


publisher live preview


LIVE PREVIEW: See styles and formats with the live preview


Features for building web databases only work with SharePoint, and Access remains a business tool rather than general purpose tool; for core Access users, the new version makes existing tasks easier but has few revolutionary improvements.


Mary (Twitter, Google+, website) started her career at Future Publishing, saw the AOL meltdown first hand the first time around when she ran the AOL UK computing channel, and she's been a freelance tech writer for over a decade. She's used every version of Windows and Office released, and every smartphone too, but she's still looking for the perfect tablet. Yes, she really does have USB earrings.