Office 2010 Beta 2: More than just a bunch of pretty icons

Office 2010 Beta 2 is available to TechNet/MSDN subscribers, and as usual I got my mitts on it too. What's new? What's good? What's the killer application?
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

Office 2010 is more than just a bunch of pretty icons. I've only been playing with the Beta 2 of Office 2010 for a few hours now, but considering that my academic life pretty much takes absolute precedence over anything else, using Office for a short time feels (and practically is) like a lifetime already.

Outlook is without doubt the killer application. I've only recently dived head first into Outlook after a long, painful struggle with my email management, but am glad to have done so. Windows Live Mail is great and has done me well, but after my hard drive fried, it was just too much of a pain to set up again.

Gallery To see a selection of changes in Outlook 2010 and other common student-based Office 2010 Beta 2 applications, head over to the screenshot galleryfor a peek.

Upgrading from previous versions is just a dream. I haven't had to change a single setting after migrating from Outlook 2007 to 2010 (but I did check, just to be sure). But there are three new features which you need to take note of:

  • The social connector keeps you in check with the people you communicate with. If you're running on an Exchange server, pictures and details can be shared with one another allowing you to see presence, instant message one another, see previous correspondance and check their calendars.

  • Conversation views allow you to track what was said and to whom, and when. It reads email to you like a story; starting off at the bottom and working its way through, adding each reply to the very top to keep your conversations to-and-fro organised and seamless. No longer will you have to depend on replies including the original message, even though some strongly disagree.

Of course I could easily go on and on, but it's nearly 5am where I am and my all-nighter was meant to be spent doing university work. However, I'll be using Office 2010 not because I like to play with things before they hit the shelves, but because the improvements to the entire suite has left a positive feeling in my cold, dark, hating and stoney heart.

Have you played with it yet? Any thoughts so far?

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