Microsoft Office 2010 and Office Web-apps (or Office On-line, Office-in-the-Cloud) are pushing Microsoft gradually but inexorably toward a more web-aware world.
Office 2010 brings a stack of incremental improvements to the market-leading office suite:
- The Ribbon is the default interface for all Office applications, including Outlook which missed out in Office 2007, OneNote and all other Office applications and SharePoint
- The Office button in the top-left corner of the screen has been redesigned, because many people thought is was a logo and not a functioning button. Doh!!
- New features to individual applications such as video editing in PowerPoint and improved mail handling in Outlook.
- Office-wide productivity enhancers, include photo editing tools and improved copy-paste functions.
You no longer open a menu, but an entirely new portion of the interface.
However most of the tasks accomplished in Backstage are completely mundane. You can open, save, and print files, explore recent documents, and open new documents.
Choosing Print from the menu on the left, accesses a conventional set of print options; print preview, choose printer settings, duplex or collated, margins and so on.
Backstage View brings together many features that were present in Office 2007, but hard to get at. In Backstage View, they’re brought to one location. The Info tab in Backstage is the equivalent of File Properties, information about your current file, such as the author and last time it was modified, and letting you review previous versions.
The Save command in previous versions of Office is replaced with a Backstage section called Save and Send. You can use this to save your documents, but this is where collaboration features in MSO 2010 are found.
There are a few ways to share documents (besides email). The Save to Web option will save your documents to your Windows Live Skydrive account. This is a free account that can be used to store documents and share them with others.
SkyDrive provides 25 GB of free online storage and, since the service is integrated with Office Web Apps, you can view and edit these documents anywhere in the web browser without requiring Microsoft Office (even on an Apple Mac).
This is Microsoft’s attempt to emulate Dropbox or Ubuntu One. I’m surprised nobody is suing everyone else for patent infringement in this area.
Skydrive uses a web interface and can be accessed at skydrive.live.com. From Skydrive you can share documents nominees either by sending a link or adding them to the file permissions (via their email address). Permissions allow others can edit these documents on-line. For the first time you get collaborative Microsoft Office documents without the need for a Sharepoint server! Speaking of which, Sharepoint is still part of the Office ecosystem and can be accessed directly below Save to Web.
Backstage Pass: Security
File Blocks: Office 2010 has implemented a stack of security improvements to combat malware, macro-viruses and trojans embedded in Office file formats to piggy-back seemingly legitimate Office documents as a means of spreading. The down-side is the issue with File Blocks and file trust.
By default, Office 2010 blocks certain types of documents opening them as read-only in Protected View; they can’t be edited. To change this behavior you open Options in the Backstage area, then go to Trust Center, and then open Trust Center Options. Finally, open File Block settings. You’ll find a number of file types and checkboxes that can be selected to enable or disable handling those files in Protected View.
Wow. How easy is that? Err…
You might be inclined to disable Protected View for convenience. If you do, you become responsbile for your own security (although I argue you should have been in the first place). Microsoft’s software has a big red virtual target painted on its backside and malware is a real threat.
Further looks at Office 2010 to come. AJS