Having failed hopelessly in my attempts to setup Windows 7 (all blame to be directed at my pathetic PSU), I thought I'd go with the much simpler to install and review Office 2010 Beta. The beta is available as a free download here.
This was fairly slow, and Office has ramped up in size to use 2.34GB in total. Not too bad, but on my work laptop I'm a little short on space. They've made it really easy this time to actually install along side your existing (read: safe) version of Office, or upgrade it if you want to. Seriously, don't upgrade yet, its a beta for a reason. The installation has the awesome affect of making your task bar disappear. Kindly, it is returned after about 5 minutes. I hope that one's on the issue list.
The install appeared to finish, so I tried to access the programs. However it had actually not finished and got quite grumpy.
Once it had finished being grumpy it finally asked me to be restarted. Begrudgingly I obliged. On finally excitedly opening up Word, the splash screen appears and *crash*. The "Send to Bluetooth" feature crashed on load. On second opening of Word, it asked me if I wanted to disable the feature, which is a significant improvement for Microsoft over their "keep trying, its you thats the problem not us" approach.
For some unknown stupid reason, Microsoft have chosen to set the default appearance to the "silver" theme. This has the effect of making Word look like Open Office. Now, I'm all for a bit of open source, in fact I hugely respect it, and understand when it looks like a Romanian gypsy's dog's arse. But I dont expect the same of proprietary software. Not least of all Word 2010. Changing to the "blue" theme really helps with this. Microsoft, pick a new default!
So, as you can see they've gotten rid of that ridiculous round windows button, and brought back a familiar favourite, File. They've spent some time considerably improving the access to the features under file, which is a big plus for me due to work requirements.
Outlook very kindly changed itself to be the default mail client. Now I would love and have begged to be able to use Outlook and Exchange, but until further notice I'm stuck with Lotus Notes. Microsoft, don't change the default when I don't ask you to. Naughty.
Excel at what exactly?
Other than the additional of File, excel remains seeminly largely unchanged. The marketing blurb speaks of new conditional formatting. New? Seriously new? The writer must be new to the marketing department. Perhaps they should open up Excel 2007 and have a look closely, seems pretty much the same to me.
Other than some bug fixes and behind the scene's work, this is pretty much a bog standard release of Office. It's an uglier version of 2007, with minor improvements. However, there's one small thing about this beta for which Microsoft deserves a bravo (or rather a cry of "finally!"):
The two smiley's represent a feedback capturing system. If you like something that you see in the new office, click the happy smiley, and a screen shot of what it is you like is taken. Add some comments about why you like, and send to Microsoft. Ofcourse the same applies to stuff you don't. Three cheers to finally garnering user feedback in a friendly way. Huzzah!