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How To get the best from Microsoft Office 2010

How can you live without Word, Excel and PowerPoint?

Here are 10 reasons why you should consider upgrading to the latest version of the Microsoft Office suite.

Multimedia Editing

Even more features for editing photos and videos are built-in to Word, Excel and PowerPoint 2010, so you can now often manage without other software. This includes photo-editing tools and filters similar to those found in Photoshop such as artistic effects, shadows and photo retouching.

Smartart and Visuals

Microsoft introduces even more control over templates and text display with a range of improved themes, plus an enhanced SmartArt system offering even more graphics. These are great for creating flyers, posters, newsletters and a range of other professional-looking documents.

Web Apps

In a bid to rival Google Docs, Microsoft offers scaled down free web versions of its Office software, allowing documents to be viewed, shared and edited online.

Better Security

Editing and protecting sensitive documents is easier here. Improved security in Office 2010 brings better tracking and the option of restricting editing to certain authors, plus a “protected mode” to stop the accidental modification of downloaded files.

Team Features

For working on a shared document across a network or the web, Office now makes it easy to see who is updating it and allows real-time collaboration and communication with other team members. It makes Office finally great for the office.

Better Email

Outlook 2010 gets a major boost, with better categorisation, filing and display of email messages and improved handling of conversations, including an ‘ignore’ button.

Outlook also integrates with other services including Microsoft SharePoint, Windows Live and popular social networking sites to bring updates straight to your inbox from the likes of Facebook.

Spreadsheet Analysis

Excel 2010 hasn’t changed a great deal, but it does include “sparklines”; graphs that sit in one cell and provide an overview of a data set. These are useful for home budgeting, team results or in any other case where a quick view is needed.

Mobile Versions

Anyone using Windows Mobile 6.5+ or Nokia devices can now gain access to mobile versions of the Office suite. Features include the ability to control a PowerPoint presentation and display speaker notes, improved email display and new Office content including SmartArt graphics and charts.

Backstage View

Backstage displays a document overview, plus a range of commonly used file management and printing commands, in a single view. It may not be life-changing, but could save valuable time darting between menus.

Open Document Format

Anyone sharing editable documents with people who don’t use Microsoft products may be pleased to learn that Open Document Format version 1.1 is now supported here, making it easier to transfer documents between Office 2010 and third-party software such as OpenOffice, which is free on the web.

Microsoft has added some powerful new features to the latest version of its Office suite, and it’s definitely worth considering an upgrade. Remember, if you have bought a new laptop or netbook recently, it should have a starter edition of Office 2010 pre-loaded. You simply need to buy a keycard with a code on it to unlock the software and get working – there’s no need to install it from a disc.