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วันอังคาร, ตุลาคม 12, 2553

Microsoft Office 2010 Home & Business (Disc Version)

Customer Reviews:


 



I've had an opportunity to use Office 2010 Beta edition for a couple of months now and now that I see the full, final, edition I can say that this is a very worthwhile upgrade. First things first, I am not a techie. I am someone who uses Word, Excel and PowerPoint on a very regular basis, who really liked some of the changes in Office 2007 but who thought some things needed tweaking, so when given the opportunity for the beta edition I jumped on it and have not been disappointed. Office 2010 is to Office 2007 what Windows 7 was to Vista; that is, there are not many breakthrough, drastically different features, but a whole lot of polishing and cleanup to make it easier and more efficient. Overall, the program seems to run faster, incorporates many of the most commonly used options and makes them more accessible (eliminating many dialog boxes and tabs) and allows for more customization.

At first glance it looks very much like its predecessor, the ribbon is back and it is now also found on OneNote. There are plenty of sites that will give you a play-by-play on all the features available in this new version, so I'm just going to mention some of the biggest improvements that I've seen.
1) The biggest change is the addition of the web apps. It may not be a true direct competitor to google docs, but it allows for easier sharing of documents, as well as making your documents more accessible.
2) The ribbon is back and it now includes the "File" option and a new feature called "Backstage view." Backstage view incorporates the most commonly used actions in one place (yay! no more dialog boxes with tabs). You get the usual open, save and print, but you also get several templates for new documents, print layouts and ways to share your work, all without dialog boxes and tabs, everything is much more easily accessible.
3) Another new feature is that the ribbon is now customizable so you can organize it according to your needs.
4) There is a Paste Preview which lets you switch between paste options so you can make sure that your work will be formatted correctly.

Changes in PowerPoint.
You can now edit video directly on PowerPoint. You can trim a video, add effects, fades and even triggers for animations for the presentation. Another new feature is that you can add effects and edit images without the need for third party software.

Changes in Word.
One nifty new feature in Word is called "Navigation pane," which replaces the old document map. It incorporates minor changes in design that make big changes in productivity and ease of use. It allows you to quickly rearrange the document. Take for example a document with several headings/sections. The Navigation pane provides a list of all the headings. The headings are live, so you can drag them up or down, thus rearranging the document. It also incorporates most of the functions that used to be available in the "Find" dialog box but now they are all visible so you don't have to go digging through several menus to find the option that you need.

Changes in Excel.
Most of the changes in Excel deal with very large datasets. There is a new PowerPivot add-in which works great if you are dealing with a very large dataset that does not fit in one Excel spreadsheet. PowerPivot pulls the data from multiple sources (several Excel spreadsheets for instance) to analyze it.

Changes in Outlook.
There is a ribbon, and this makes for a huge improvement. You can turn long email threads into conversations so you can find information from a specific participant without having to read entire threads. You can also filter out or ignore entire threads on a particular subject, including future emails. Be careful though, you can unknowingly eliminate important future emails because they have the same subject title as a conversation you ignored in the past.

Summary:
Overall this is one well planned and executed upgrade that essentially takes all the promises of Office 2007 and makes them a reality. Yes, some things are different, and it will take some getting used to; but, once you realize the improvement in efficiency you'll agree that the changes are mostly for the positive. 

++++

I'm coming from OLD versions of these applications. I'm ashamed to say I was still using a version of Word 2002 on one of my computers...Yikes! I've been using Mozilla's excellent (and free) Thunderbird client for many years.

So the standout here for me, is Outlook. I honestly can't figure how I ever effectively used email before. If you've ever tried to configure Thunderbird for gmail access using either POP or IMAP, it is a multi-step process (by multi, I mean like 22 steps) to get to the end. Complete with re-mapping ports, changing TLS and server configurations, the whole deal. I could always get it to work, eventually, and once it's set, it just works after that. You only had to go through that process once. But since I do OS re-installs somewhat regularly, I had to go through this Thunderbird "initialization" process many, many times.


So I download the Office 2010 Beta. (the full beta that installs on your hdd, not the virtualization beta which was garbage and took forever to load up).


It asks me some pointed questions about my gmail account. Literally like 2 questions: my email address and my password. There might have been one other question or 2, but I don't think so. Outlook basically configured itself instantly after I entered my information, no port mapping or any of that other stuff. It just worked and immediately started synchronizing my folders. This was impressive in and of itself, but the conversation feature was great as well, where Outlook keeps threaded replies under one conversation heading. It just streamlines things and makes it much better. (note: I've discovered that the conversation feature "confused" a lot of users; it has therefore been disabled in the final product. Go to your view section of your ribbon and click the box "show as conversations" to re-enable. I honestly don't understand how this could be confusing, but ok. Just turn it on, any logic-minded person will like it.)


The Search option is invaluable as well. It acts like an index-able search and starts returning results as you type. I had a product that had failed on me, but that also had a 3 year warranty that was nearing expiration. I typed in the name of the product and outlook finds all pertinent messages in my Gmail account from 32 months ago...instantly. (actually before I even finished typing its name). Thunderbird has not replicated this functionality in any meaningful way, not even close. Normally I would be combing through pages and pages of emails trying to find the one I needed. This little feature has saved me so much time, I can't even tell you. And I just stumbled upon it, which makes it even better. You can type anything in this box: email addresses, names, words that may only appear in the subject or body. It finds it all instantly as you type.


So the big deal here is something I haven't mentioned which is called the Ribbon interface. This is the fancy menu-ing system at the top of each application. So where you would normally have static menu buttons as any browser/application does, the ribbon options change based on which heading you click. This is cool and is pretty well standardized between applications. Each application obviously has different needs for the major headings, but the functionality is the same. Outlook is a visually impressive app as compared to Thunderbird. Even my wife noticed something was different when she saw it on my screen for the 1st time. (I still had Thunderbird installed on her computer.) Thunderbird looks absolutely midieval in comparison. After months of using the Office 2010 beta, I was on my wife's computer and loaded up Thunderbird. The difference is big.


Though I have never used Outlook 2007, I have read this is a major upgrade in every way over it, and no question over Outlook 2003. I also loved the new Calendar system, again much better than what I used to with Thunderbird, which for a long time was an extra plugin, called Sunbird.


The other standout in my opinion is Word 2010. This is still the yardstick by which other word processors are measured. It's got insane functionality and can do things that I will probably never, ever have a need for. This seems to be more of several, tiny optimizations that are visible after a few weeks of use. Word 2007 also had the ribbon UI, but this has been refined. Word 2010's search/navigation functionality has been drastically improved: this is especially handy for long/multi-page documents. All the functionality you could ever want in a word processor is here and it is also a beautiful app as compared to something like Google docs or Open Office. Not picking on them or anything, because obviously you're gonna get more for a paid app vs. a free one. I have WordPerfect at work, and I can barely stand to use it in comparison. Not sure why, but no one can touch Microsoft as far as Word goes.


These 2 programs alone justify the $240 price tag here, since you will spend more than that by purchasing only those 2 programs as stand alone apps. So I figured I might as well get this one since it also comes with Excel, Power Point, and One Note.


On Excel, a big boost to graphing and charts is the ability to interact with them and have them change in real time so you can see what effects small changes may have on a given data set. Microsoft gives this addition a tech buzz word (pivotChart); but all it means is you can see the effects that data has graphically, and instantly. It also has had its ribbon interface heavily modified/tweaked as well. I'm really glad I got Excel with this package (I didn't think I'd ever use it.) I have since had a business opportunity and have had to draft a business plan, profit/loss projections, and month to month projections. Templates are super easy to find on Microsoft's website and the bank even sent me a template for a personal financial statement in Excel 2010 format. It was nice to have the necessary software load up and ready to go, when I clicked the attachment from my banker.


PowerPoint 2010: I've put together two presentations with it thus far. They seemed to go overboard with the picture/video options; video editing is kinda crazy with this. If you want to spend the time learning the ins and outs, it seemed quite powerful to me as far as that stuff goes. Photo editing has also been ramped up. You can basically do everything within the program now vs. having to use Photoshop or Adobe Premier/Final Cut to process the footage, add frames, effects, crop, fix audio, etc. Basically you had to do all this first in PowerPoint 2007 and then load it into your ppt file. This is pretty big if you do a lot of presentations or slideshows.


One Note is for online collaboration. You essentially share data such as class notes, etc. in the cloud with whoever you want. Schools and students may find this helpful, but I haven't really had a need to use it yet.


If you don't want/need Outlook, they have a home and student edition. You can spend more and get Publisher and Access in the Professional edition if you even need that sort of thing. I hope you don't since that'll cost you close to $500 for the entire suite.


As far as versions, obviously this edition (the Home and Business edition) is the best value for the money in my opinion. Also, definitely get the disc version since it allows 2 installs. That means I can give my wife the suite as well on her computer. So the key card option, which is basically just a product key that you would enter into a authorization box in the version that you download, will only allow you one install, but the price is $200! You get to install it twice for $240 with the Home and Business edition. It's definitely NOT worth saving $40 to only get to install it on one PC.


All the applications have attractive, animated splash screens and load extremely quickly on my 2 year old PC. Overall, I would say definite upgrade from Office 2003 and to atleast consider it if moving from Office 2007. Unless you're an Outlook user and that would become a "definite upgrade" as well.


Hope you've enjoyed this review from a user who's actually used the product for several months via the beta and then the final version (Amazon verified purchase), as I wanted to give some original feedback.


UPDATE 6/23/2010: So after using the Office 2010 Beta for over 6 months, I received my copy of the final version from Amazon several days ago. I just un-installed the beta and ran the setup from the DVD ROM. A little hiccup with the uninstall occurred where I received an error message of "could not un-install all components." A reboot solved that issue. Setup was fairly quick (between 5 and 10 minutes), and Outlook retained all of my email settings. Upon loading it for the 1st time, no questions were asked, it just worked like it always had. That is because uninstalling Outlook doesn't delete your Outlook data, it saves it in a .pst file. This gives your email/calendar/contact data persistence. I was impressed by this. No having to use a 3rd party backup utility like Mozbackup that I had to do with Thunderbird. There are other reviews that reference that pst file transfer should be a 5 minute process. Well, it is. Actually, it's more like a 2 minute process. But for a non-techie, it might be a challenge. Most of us geeks know that calling support for something like this will be a fruitless effort. Research online forums for quicker, more pertinent help.


Also, all the programs now run insanely fast. I guess a few optimizations have taken place since I originally downloaded the beta. You barely get to see the splash screen animate now before the apps are already loaded. I can confirm the key code that..
Read more ›

++++


I had the full version of Office 2003 and the student version of 2007 without Outlook. I bought the home/business version since it was time to upgrade Outlook. I cannot comment on the other programs yet because 2 days later and about 4 hours of wasted time, I am still trying to export my 2003 Outlook e-mail data files from my desktop to my laptop which has 2010 loaded. This seemed prudent before upgrading my desktop that I primarily use (work from home full time). About the only good thing I can say about the transfer is that the three versions are compatible for pst file transfer, unlike the upgrade from 2002 to 2003, which was not. I tried calling support and while 3 months if free with this H&B retail version, it appears that it's all offshore now which is disappointing given the cost of "upgrading."

Unlike many other users, I don't mind the price (esp Amazons) and prefer a clean install in case I want to load on a computer with no previous version. However, the cost should include support from Americans (or at least Canadian: ) So far, support has been of no help, either on the phone or in the knowledge base which gives me the choice of backing up the whole pst file and then copying (did not work) or exporting data file by file (had to break up my inbox in to sub files). Yet they keep sending me e-mails asking if my problem is resolved...so they can close it out.

Microsoft: by now transferring pst files should be a 5 minute thing for those of us not on exchange (don't know if that's any better). If phone support was better, I would say that some people might benefit from buying the professional version which comes with one year of support instead of 90 days...cheaper than a bunch of calls to M. Some day I will update my review if I ever get out of Outlook : )

PS to the guy who complained that 64 bit is not compatible with his computer; unless you are a computer pro or wiz, load 32 on your 64 bit computer using the typical install (which I loaded on both computers - have one of each - Vista 32 and 7 64) since 64 does not work with all applications and thus, not worth the small increase in processing speed. I had to hunt online to figure this out as Microsoft does not make it clear. 

Microsoft Office 2010 Home & Business (Disc Version)

 

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