The most frequent question I've been getting for the past year-plus regarding Office 2010 is whether it's worth an upgrade. Is there anything in Microsoft's soon-to-be-released office suite that Office XP, Office 2003 and/or Office 2007 users of the suite might find "compelling"? Will any of Office 2010's features put a dent in Google Docs' momentum among the home, student and SMB set?
Because Office users are such a varied bunch, it's hard to answer that question in a succinct blog post. But a Microsoft partner shared with me a list of what Microsoft considers to be Office 2010's top 10 features. If you want to know how Microsoft plans to hawk its Office 2010 suite to end users, here's the "elevator pitch":
Top 10 reasons for End Users to try Microsoft Office 2010
1. Edit and enhance photos in Word or PowerPoint 2010. Put more visual impact in your documents or presentations with easy-to-use photo-editing tools that let you crop, control brightness and contrast, sharpen or soften, and add artistic visual effects without leaving Word 2010 or PowerPoint 2010. 2. Put your presentation message in motion with PowerPoint 2010. Edit videos right in PowerPoint 2010, breaking longer clips down into shorter segments or reducing file size to make your presentation portable. Then dial up the visual impact by adjusting color, adding new video effects, and incorporating new dynamic slide transitions and animations.
3. Access, edit, and share from virtually anywhere with Office Web Apps on Windows Live SkyDrive. Get things done when you’re away from the office, home, or school by creating documents in Office 2010, then posting them online to Windows Live SkyDrive to access, view, and edit - either alone or with others - with Office Web Apps from virtually anywhere you have Internet access.*
*An appropriate device, Internet connection, and Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Safari browser are required. There are some differences between the features of the Office Web Apps and the Office 2010 applications. (MJF note: Yes, there sure are some differences.)
4. Organize all of your information in a single place in OneNote 2010. Create a digital notebook in OneNote 2010 to capture and share text, images, video, audio — all your thoughts, ideas, and important information in a single, easy-to-access location.
5. Make presentations from virtually anywhere in PowerPoint 2010. Broadcast your PowerPoint 2010 presentation through a web browser to a remote audience of one or 100 — even if they don’t have PowerPoint — with Broadcast Slide Show.
6. Take control of email conversations with Outlook 2010. Track and manage your email easily with Conversation View in Outlook 2010, a feature that lets you condense, categorize, and even ignore lengthy email exchanges with a single click.
7. Analyze finances easily at home and at work with Excel 2010. Use Sparklines in Excel 2010 to create small charts that make it easy to highlight trends in data at a glance, and highlight specific items in your data set with just a few clicks using improved Conditional Formatting.
8. Stay connected to your network with Outlook 2010. The all-new Outlook Social Connector connects you to the social and business networks you use, including Microsoft SharePoint, Windows Live, or other popular third-party sites, so you can get more information and stay in touch. 9. Find the features you need fast and personalize your Ribbon. An improved Ribbon lets you access your favorite commands quickly and customize or create tabs to personalize the experience to your work style.
10. Discover all the tools you need to work with your documents with the new Backstage view. The Microsoft Office Backstage view provides a rich full-screen environment for working
I think it's interesting how much the Softies are playing up PowerPoint (!) as one of the most compelling new components of Office 2010... and how relatively little they are pushing Office Web Apps -- though that might be partially because Office Web Apps still has a long way to go to deliver on the promises Microsoft has made for its Web-centric collaboration complement to Office.
Anything on this list of interest? Any other features you think Microsoft should have on its short list?