Office 2010 upgrade guide

Who's ready for a Microsoft Office upgrade?

Microsoft Office 2010 is nearly two years old, but organizations are still considering whether to upgrade.

The newest suite, released in mid-2010 to both businesses and consumers, added a host of new Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint features. It also offers document-sharing capabilities and online collaboration, which users could get only from the competition before the Office 2010 upgrade. But there are still alternatives that may make more sense for your organization, and reasons that you may want to avoid an Office 2010 upgrade. Here is a compilation of tips, news and reviews to help you decide if a Microsoft Office upgrade is right for your business.

Table of contents:

Office 2010 upgrade considerations

New Office 2010 features: An evaluation overview
The first step in weighing an Office 2010 upgrade is to check out the product's new features. Here's a quick rundown of Office 2010's features worth checking out, such as the Ribbon, conversation view in Outlook and refined video handling in PowerPoint.

Top reasons your business shouldn't go to Office 2010 -- yet
The ever-changing user interface of Microsoft Office programs requires enterprises to make continual adjustments, and Excel's lax security capabilities can make proper protection difficult. Find out why some businesses should wait to adopt the latest versions of Word and Excel.

More reasons to hold off on moving to Office 2010
Here are additional reasons why your organization may want to wait on an Outlook and Office 2010 upgrade. In Outlook, for example, having to rebuild your favorites and import your AutoComplete list from the previous version can be a time-consuming challenge. Migrating to Microsoft Office 2010 takes planning, time and money, so consider these flaws before moving to Office 2010.

Office 2010 features make the suite worth a second look
Our expert discusses his favorite Microsoft Office 2010 features, including PowerPivot in Excel and MailTips in Outlook. OneNote's ease of use and the zoom feature in Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word are also standout features.

Office 2010: Who needs an upgrade?
Microsoft Office dominates the business world, but it still faces competition from cheaper alternatives such Oracle's OpenOffice and the cloud-based Google Docs. But if you consider Office Web Apps and improvements to the desktop version -- and how they form a collaboration platform built on SharePoint -- an Office 2010 upgrade may be worth it after all.

Office 2010 could be hard sell for most enterprises
Microsoft has made some enhancements to Outlook in Office 2010, including long-awaited improvements to its interface, intelligent email management features and new permission settings. Many companies may stick with Outlook 2007, however, because organizations that use SharePoint Server have the most to gain from the updates to Outlook.

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How Outlook 2010 fits into your Microsoft Office upgrade plans

What's new in Microsoft Outlook 2010?
Microsoft has upped the ante with Outlook 2010 by adding features that should become popular and help users increase productivity. For example, the Office Ribbon finally made its way into the latest version of Outlook to reduce time spent searching for commands. The Outlook Social Connector enables integration of your social networks, and management of multiple Exchange accounts in one Outlook profile is now possible as well.

Outlook 2010 review
Outlook 2010 includes impressive new features, such as customizable Quick Steps and a full-screen view of account controls in the Backstage view. But are they enough to keep Microsoft's email client on enterprise must-have lists?

Is Outlook 2010 the Facebook killer? Not yet
The Outlook Social Connector, nicknamed the "People Pane," imports your social network data into your Outlook contact list in order to display recent online activity of people you know. The idea is to give context to your contacts and to make Outlook 2010 a tool for consuming social data.

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How PowerPoint and Word 2010 fit into your Microsoft Office upgrade plans

PowerPoint 2010 review
If you regularly build media-rich presentations, PowerPoint 2010's improvements will come in handy. Embedding videos from websites or that have been stored locally has been made easier, as well as the ability to trim videos from within PowerPoint. The Backstage view also got an upgrade in PowerPoint 2010, making saving, sharing and exporting presentations simpler.

Word 2010 review
Microsoft Word is the keystone of Office, but are there enough changes in the latest version to warrant an Office 2010 upgrade? Microsoft has beefed up security in Word 2010 by adding the Protected View, which engages when a document is downloaded from the Web or an email attachment. The Document Inspector feature is also a cleanup tool, auditing your document before you share it.

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How Excel 2010 fits into your Microsoft Office upgrade plans

Shining the light on PowerPivot
After extensive research and development, Microsoft introduced the PowerPivot add-on for Excel 2010 that allows you to stay within the product as you develop a business intelligence application. You can read data from various data sources, such as databases or data files, and once you bring in the data from a source, it becomes static. This enables you to work disconnected from the data sources.

Excel 2010 review
Excel may be the least modified of any app in Office 2010, so it probably won’t be a deciding factor in your Microsoft Office upgrade decision. But the spreadsheet app still received some significant tweaks. Like the Word and PowerPoint updates, Excel 2010 features Protected View to disable macros and add-ins in any Excel and Excel-readable documents downloaded from emails or the Internet. Excel 2010 also has Sparklines, which are miniature graphs that fit into single worksheet cells, and Slicers, which let users build conditional displays into pivot tables.

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Office 2010 upgrade or online alternatives?

Microsoft Office Web Apps review
Microsoft is taking on its cloud competitors with browser-based online extensions of Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint. Skydrive, Microsoft's free online storage service, makes the Internet a shared network drive for any desktop running Office 2010. So, are the Office Web Apps ready to overthrow the competition, or is this more Microsoft hype?

Free alternatives to Office: The (don't have to) buyer's guide
There's a surplus of freebie office suites out there, including Google Docs, IBM Lotus Symphony 1.3, OpenOffice 3.1, ThinkFree Office Online Beta, and Zoho Writer, Sheet and Show. Each was graded on format support, ease of use, power-user friendliness and beyond-office features. But which option is most worth the money you don't have to spend?

How to save time and money with Web Apps, Office 2010
Some organizations are exploring the cloud by deploying Web Apps. In Office 2010, Microsoft takes this one step further, offering its Office suite in the cloud. Microsoft Office Web Apps enable organizations to skip the endpoint deployment process and use the online apps instead, which could save money and improve collaboration.

Google makes Docs more like Microsoft Office
Google Docs dropped its offline Docs support in favor of HTML 5 to support more capabilities and make its collaboration products perform faster. So, Google Docs is getting better in some ways, but can it hold up against Office 2010?

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