Software

Word 2010: Better design, more stability

Get a quick peek at a few impending changes in Word, including a less cluttered Ribbon, improved performance, and the new Backstage feature.

Get a quick peek at a few impending changes in Word, including a less cluttered Ribbon, improved performance, and the new Backstage feature.


Word 2010, the upcoming release of the world's most popular word processor, includes some new features and carries over some existing ones from Word 2007. Here's a look at what you can expect.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

The Ribbon in Word 2010 (Figure A) is much the same as the Ribbon in the Word 2007. The Office button is smaller and more related to the application rather than the suite, which is a great aesthetic touch. But the biggest change in the Office button is the menu itself, called Backstage. Although the Backstage menu is available in all Office 2010 applications, it's most useful within Word.

Figure A

When you click the Office button, a full screen menu appears over the entire Word screen (Figure B). As you can see, the Backstage menu provides information about the current document and other application options, including:
  • Permissions -- security and editing rights options for the document
  • Prepare For Distribution -- Check for issues within the document concerning compatibility and accessibility
  • Versions -- manage different versions of the document

The right side of the Backstage menu shows a preview of the current document and its properties. The menu also contains the options previously found on the Office menu or File menu, such as Open, Save, Save As, Recent Documents, and Word Options.

Figure B

Another new Office feature that's particularly handy in Word is the Screenshot option on the Insert tab. It allows you to insert a screen capture of an open window into the document you are working on.

Working in Word 2010 is similar to working in Word 2007; however, I have found this version, even in Technical Preview, to be more stable than its predecessor. My opinion could change as the product gets closer to release, but for now, I think one of the strongest features is pure performance. The application will still crash if you do something that isn't exactly intelligent (which I do on my computer from time to time), but most of these issues for me come from impatience in trying to accomplish a task.

The 2010 Ribbon also feels less cluttered and overwhelming, possibly due to the features that were moved to Backstage.

Sure, there are tons of features within Word, and there always have been - and many of them are overkill for most users. But some, like reviewing and comments, styles, and page layout are useful. These features are the same as they were within Office 2007 as far as I can tell.

After writing several articles and other documents using Word 2010, I love the application. The stability and 64-bit code are great improvements (although they are Office-wide and not limited to Word). Using the Ribbon has also gotten easier, because it seems less cluttered and is not a new experience this time, as it was when Office 2007 arrived. I encourage all of you to give the application a test drive when it is available to you. I think it will be worth considering for your organization.

About

Derek Schauland has been tinkering with Windows systems since 1997. He has supported Windows NT 4, worked phone support for an ISP, and is currently the IT Manager for a manufacturing company in Wisconsin.

10 comments
MUnruh23
MUnruh23

Thanks; it's good to know that 2010 will be essentially the same as 2007 - I'll continue to use the 2003 version that I had to move heaven and earth to find last year after trying for weeks to make myself learn to at least tolerate 2007. Oh, and it's not that I minded the loss of features / functionality - THAT wasn't any big deal at ALL. (Actually, it was - I was just kidding.) It was all because of the completely 're-invented user interface' that no one was asking for. (Yes, it was still about that, too.) I do realize that there may be a point where it becomes, for some reason, impractical to use 2003. Hopefully, when that day comes, OpenOffice will still be available for absolutely free. (I don't know, though - it's only about 98% as good - oh, well, I guess you get what you pay for.) By the way, until last year, I was always that 'cute little guy' in all the Microsoft-bashing conversations who said 'nice things.' Because of Office 2007, and particularly because of how hard Microsoft made it to obtain a copy of 2003, I no longer play that role. I did, in my final act of obeisance, submit to all their stern warnings that insisted that buying an OEM version would be WRONG - I actually waited until I finally located a non-OEM version. So the good news is that I 'played by the rules' - but the bad news (depending on whether Microsoft even cares) is that I DID finally grow to hate them for it. On another topic entirely, whatever happened to that 'New Coke' thing - that completely reformulated / improved version that was launched back in the '80s - because I was really looking for some place to buy a bunch of it. Any information anyone can provide would be much appreciated . . .

NexS
NexS

there is only one thing that would make me welcome office (2007/2010), and that is if they released a helmet which read my mind and executed functions by thought. Short of that the new design can be wasted on someone who cares. i suppose I'm being a bit stuck in my ways, but they've changed too much from office 2003 and previous, which proves very difficult to relearn how to use such a simple application. I can understand where they are coming from with the revamp, but it makes things very difficult for onsite support persons to give good assistance. I think I've harped on quite enough... phew!

Slayer_
Slayer_

New Coke was just cokes attempt to taste like Pepsi. People of course hated that so they brought back "Classic Coke".

rob.thompson
rob.thompson

I thought the same as you when "the ribbon" was introduced with Office 2007. But after using it for 6 months, I wouldn't give it up! I can much more in less time with it. As a network admin, I need to work on desktops with earlier versions of Office. Ofc 2003 is clunky and Office XP is miserable to work with. Give 2007 a try, it will grow on you.

Ron_007
Ron_007

it is change for sake of change that I object to, both as a user of Word/Office and as a computer programming professional. The changes in the 2007 Ribbon UI strike me as not completely thought out (haven't seen 2010 ribbon so i can't comment on it). For example, if you turn Vista Aero off, the Ribbon continues to look the the same, but the dialog boxes revert to XP style. Or, how about the Office Button? Where in the Windows User Interface did it come from? And the menu that drops out from it. In general I like it but why do they still include buttons to pop out additional stuff? Why did they have the "Options" and "Exit" buttons? I see from the screen shot that at least the "exit" and "options" buttons have been "fixed" in Word 2010. I like the new coke comparison. Another comparison I like to use is if one of the Big 3 automakers has studies to "prove" that British style "right-hand" steering is "safer" than our standard so in the new model year they unilaterally decide to make that switch in North America. What the heck, it is "safer", it doesn't substantially change the "driving experience" etc, ignoring the minor inconvience of putting manual transmission on the "wrong" side, who uses manual transmissions these days. The simple fact is that this change is aimed explicitly at new users. And I agree, that for them it may well be easier to find more features. On the other hand, for experienced users it is very disorienting. MS is counting on the resistance of experienced users to change. They figure they have experienced users, or their companies, "locked in". Why did they prevent users from customizing the ribbon? And I don't count Quick Access Toolbar (QAT). It is a trivial sop to user customization. It is almost like the company that almost single handed put the "Personal" in personal computing has decided to revert to a locked down "mainframe / green-screen" style of application programming. I am not afraid of change or learning new things, but this change isn't justifiable for me. I'm not just an "old" 2003 user. I am a user who started using MS Word 4.2 (FOR DOS!). In other Words, I have invested a lot of my personal time, effort and money (for books and training) over the last 18 years learning the intricacies of the Word menu system. Word 2007 is the 10'th new version of MS Word I've used over those years (I skipped '95). As well as several other word processors I've used for various reasons over those years. The saddest part of this whole tempest in a teapot is that it could have been easily avoided. All MS had to do was include the option to use the old menu system. It wasn't rocket science. I saw the first 3rd party products offering this functionality for sale within a few weeks of the general availability of Office 2007. There are now even several (2 for sure) that are offered for free. Over the years, MS has built in all sorts of "backwards compatibility" into newer versions of their software. Why didn't they include it this time. Take a look at the "Compatibility Options" they have. Things like "Auto space like Word 95", "Do full justification like WordPerfect 6" (functionally that's probably the best one!) or "Use the INSert Key for Paste" to name just a few. Or Word 2007 and Home tab/Copy button. All three copy text. The first 2 are reverse compatibility all the way back to DOS (and other OS's) in the very early 1980's (maybe even back to the 70's, I'm not sure)!

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

totally different things. MS are into change for no reason as they have nothing new to sell, so they change the paint job and try to force that on people to buy it so they can get money. Well, people still want the old colours and the way they know how to use as they can't afford the time to learn a new system, especially in the current economic climate.

Izzmo
Izzmo

You won't get very far in life with that kind of attitude. If you can not change with the times, the the times will leave you behind, as the old saying goes. The new user interface, whether you like it or not, improves overall performance for the end user and makes it faster/easier for them to do things. It also makes new users (whom have never used a word processor before) to pick it up easily. If you are an old 2003 user, the shortcuts (keyboard shortcuts) still exist.. so if you use those (and if you are a user on TechRepublic, then you should!) then there should not be any complaining.

MUnruh23
MUnruh23

. . . I was sort of likening Microsoft 'reinventing' Word to Coke 're-inventing' its own market-dominating brand. Dave Barry (a satirist) wrote something about THAT debacle many years ago; a satirical 'case study' he wrote that business schools could use about Coke's brilliant marketing move - following is a paraphrase of what I remember: "You are the maker of the largest soft drink company in the world. Your product dominates the market, you have the best-known brand on the planet, and you are making billions and billions of dollars. The name of your product is used as a proxy, not only for all colas, but for all soft drinks. You should: a) Keep doing what you're doing; b) CHANGE the FORMULA! Coke's role in the marketplace is somewhat analogous to the ubiquity of the Microsoft 2003 drop-down menu-based user interface. I do predict that one day, Microsoft's domination of the world will end, and it won't be gradual - it will be when some sort of a 'tipping point' is finally reached. It will likely be due to some sort of a foolish misstep (perhaps something like completely reinventing the user interface of the most ubiquitous software package on that planet). As Dennis Miller sometimes says . . . "But of course, that's JUST my OPINION - I COULD be WRONG."