Office 2010 beta gets LinkedIn

Microsoft has released a beta of Office 2010 at its Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles. The beta integrates social network LinkedIn with Outlook, offers a stripped back Excel for browser editing, and video editing tools for PowerPoint.

Microsoft has released a beta of Office 2010 at its Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles. The beta integrates social network LinkedIn with Outlook, offers a stripped back Excel for browser editing, and video editing tools for PowerPoint.

US product managers, Reed Shaffner and Dev Balasubramanian explain Office 2010 beta.
(Credit: Liam Tung/ZDNet.com.au)

Office 2010 beta has glued together Microsoft's technologies across its server, client and web lines, aiming squarely at delivering a multi-platform Office suite. Not all problems have been ironed out, however; the software giant has addressed obvious limitations to the current suite by enabling the likes of Excel to be viewed and edited in a browser, as well as making it possible to synchronise files stored on SharePoint server to a Windows Mobile 6.5 mobile phone.

Outlook 2010 offers a "yearbook" view of contacts, which draws on LinkedIn profiles for headshots and profile data. LinkedIn is the only social network currently integrated with Office, though the suite's US product managers, Reed Shaffner and Dev Balasubramanian said at the conference that it did have software development kits available to integrate, for example, Facebook or Twitter.

"We fully expect the social network ecosystem to evaluate the opportunities of bringing that data into Outlook," said Shaffner. Balasubramanian later added that Microsoft would be leaving it up to social network operators to decide whether to integrate with Outlook.

Excel under Office 2010 can now be edited and viewed through a browser; however, users will not be able to manipulate spreadsheets with complex macros.

Acknowledging the growing wave of video content on the web, Microsoft has introduced a basic video editing suite to PowerPoint which allows, for example, YouTube videos to be inserted into a PowerPoint document. Video editing features include colour correction, reflection rendering and image framing. It has also introduced a compression function, which in Shaffner and Balasubramanian's demonstration, reduced a 25MB video file to 6MB.

Deeper integration with Windows Mobile may also endear users to Microsoft's mobile operating system. The software giant today launched a beta of Office 2010 Mobile for the operating system, which can be synchronised with a corporate SharePoint server. If changes are made to files via the phone, they will be reflected in the same file in SharePoint and vice versa.

Improvements to Word focused on document management and collaboration features, for example, greater control over multi-authored document changes, document tracking and basic record keeping functions. It has also addressed storage-heavy features in previous versions which can now only save changed document elements, rather than saving multiple instances of similar files. A few neat image editing features were also added, where users will now be able to choose whether to paste both images and text or just text when copying web content.

Office security also received a boost with the introduction of sandboxing, which allows a file to be opened in a discreet compartment should it contain malicious threats.

Liam Tung travelled to the Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles as a guest of Microsoft.