Office 2010: Most Innovations are Online

Pricing is still unknown; however Microsoft says it will bring the number of Office editions down from eight to five

Online: Office Excel App

As with other Office Web applications Microsoft is trying to make the Web version of Excel look and feel like the software version of Excel, but with reduced functions. As you would expect the Office Excel Web application allows you to create, edit and, save Microsoft Excel workbooks via Web browsers. Other functions:

* Multiuser co-authoring - more than one person can edit data at the same time.

* The ability to use the same Excel formulas on online and in the client version of the program.

Microsoft Office Reaches for the Clouds

One paper Microsoft Web strategy is compelling. For now, we'll have to take Microsoft at its word when it comes to cloud-based versions of its Office applications. One thing for sure Redmond can talk a good game. All indications are Google is in for some stiff competition when it comes to Google Docs & Spreadsheets. Other online office suites such as ThinkFree Office Online and Zoho Office Suite will also want to watch their backs.

Until Microsoft offers more than press releases for its Office Web Apps there is not much we can say. But given its dominance in the office software market we can assume Microsoft's entrance into this space to make huge waves in the nascent market of cloud-based office productivity applications.

Next Page: A First Look at Software Improvements to Office 2010

While there's lots of room for Office to expand into online functionality and real-time collaboration, there's not much new territory to be explored within the traditional applications themselves. Rather than introduce dozens of new features, Microsoft has tried to make some of the existing capabilities work better, tweaked and extended the Ribbon design introduced in Office 2007 and added a few new bells and whistles.

Word: Is there anything more to add to Word? Not much, according to Microsoft developers, and most users would probably agree. So they focused on making common tasks smoother and existing tools more powerful.

Microsoft developers have data on what thousands of testers do with their products and they noticed one worrisome trend: People very frequently cut-and-paste text into their documents, but in many cases their next act is to undo. The problem is that the text they pasted, whether from another document, a Web page or a spreadsheet, doesn't show up the way they want it to in their file. So a new box appears when you paste text that gives you options for how to format it. Hover over the button for an option and the text changes to preview what it'll look like if you choose that option.

The new version of Word also makes it easier to insert pictures. Instead of being stuck with essentially how the picture looked when you inserted it, you can now make significant edits once it's in your document: adjust the brightness and contrast, change the image to greyscale, add drop shadows and more.

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