Pros: Microsoft Outlook 2010, improved customer support, customizable ribbon, backstage view, PDF/XPS, equation editor, navigation pane.
Cons: Upgrade from Microsoft Office 2007 to Microsoft Office 2010 might not be worth it.
Internet email sites like hotmail and Gmail sometimes drive me nuts. The user interfaces are ugly and clumsy and you don’t have many of the nice features that you have in Microsoft Outlook. Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Student does not come with Outlook. I had also read about how nicely and easily Microsoft Outlook 2010 integrates with hotmail using the new Outlook Connector 14.
The technical support for Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Student is also shorter and I was suspecting that I might need some. Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Student has 90 day technical support and Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Business has one year technical support. In addition Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Student is supposed to be used for home and academic purposes only, not for business purposes, and I needed Microsoft Office for some business purposes. Well, I still have Microsoft Office Business 2003 but I am phasing it out and I started to feel that I needed Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Business.
I went to the Best Buy and was told that they do not sell upgrades for Microsoft Office 2010. They also told me that I probably could not upgrade from Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Student to Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Business, it needed to be from Microsoft Office 2007 Home and Business to Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Business. Instead they offered me Microsoft Office 2007 Home and Business for $279.00. Luckily I did not buy it. Instead I went home and called Microsoft.
Sure you can upgrade from Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Student to Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Business just like you can upgrade from Microsoft Office 2007 Home and Business to Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Business.
You can upgrade from previous versions as well as lesser editions, just make sure you have the correct key ID!
The price for an upgrade was $79.00 and they threw in Microsoft Publisher 2010 as a free bonus with the upgrade. I also bought the backup CD for $15.00.
I upgraded and my Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Student turned into a Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Business and I could now use Outlook and I connected it to our hotmail account in one step (two seconds). I also added five gmail accounts for various family members to MS outlook using IMAP, which was a little bit more complicated.
I have never been found of Microsoft Customer Support. First of all they only offer time limited support and then you have to pay for them to say “peep”. Well there is always help documentation, on-line documentation, and forums, but sometimes you need more than that. The fact that customer support is time limited is still true and therefore their customer support falls short of that of many other companies.
I have also had issues with long waiting times and unwilling support staff. However, it appears that the customer support service itself has improved. I needed to contact them a few times recently and I was positively surprised. They offer phone support up until 1AM EST, the waiting time was short, the support staff was courteous, competent and willing, and their method for gaining control of my PC to solve issues the fastest I’ve seen. Considering that Microsoft customer support no longer seems worthless and Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Business has a much longer customer support period it might be worth upgrading just for that reason.
Overview and Upgrading to Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010
Microsoft Office Home and Business includes Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Outlook, and Microsoft OneNote. Considering that I also got Microsoft Publisher as a separate package I have the same applications as Microsoft Office Standard. However, it is Microsoft Office Home and Business that I have. As mentioned with Microsoft Office Home and Business you also get one year of technical support and you are perfectly legal with respect to using it for business and organizations.
Unlike Microsoft Office Home and Student which comes with three licenses Microsoft Office Home and Business only comes with two licenses. In my case that means that I can upgrade two Microsoft Office Home and Student installations to Microsoft Office Home and Business and one must stay as Microsoft Office Home and Student.
The differences between Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Office 2010 appear to be smaller than those between Microsoft Office 2003 and Microsoft Office 2007. As an example, between Microsoft Office 2003 and Microsoft Office 2007 there was a big change in the user interface. Microsoft Office 2003 had a menu bar but Microsoft Office 2007 introduced the ribbon, which is a tabbed toolbar. In Microsoft Office 2010 the ribbon was enhanced and made customizable (File, Options, and then click Customize Ribbon). Another example is that both Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Office 2010, but not Microsoft Office 2003, has a mini formatting toolbar that pops up next to any text you select.
After having used the ribbon for some time I have to say that it is better than old menu bar. You will get used to it and it is more intuitive to those being introduced to Microsoft Office for the first time. After using it for a while you’ll notice that you find things quicker with ribbon. With the ribbon all commands are immediately accessible, which results in fewer clicks and higher productivity.
Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Office 2010 allow you to open and save documents in the Office Open XML file format (.docx/xlsx/pptx/etc.) and it is also the default. This feature was introduced with Microsoft Office 2007. Both Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Office 2010 also allow you to save in PDF or XPS file formats (but not Microsoft Office 2003). One difference between Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Office 2010 is that saving to PDF/XPS is a simple “Save As” operation in Microsoft Office 2010 (Acrobat reader is automatically launched) but not in Microsoft Office 2007.
Saving documents in the Office Open XML file formats may cause some problems when you share documents with people who are still using Microsoft Office 2003. However, you can always save your documents in the old formats. Well unless you are using a feature not compatible with the old format.
One thing that is new in Microsoft Office 2010 is the “Backstage View”. Instead of the File menu and its menu items and dialog boxes you have a separate user interface page. This is nicer and more intuitive but it has the slight drawback that the document disappears from view while you use the “Backstage View”. On the other hand while doing backstage operations you don’t really need to see the document.
Overall Microsoft Office 2010 is an improvement over Microsoft Office 2007 but not as great of an improvement as Microsoft Office 2007 versus Microsoft Office 2003.
I would not upgrade from Microsoft Office 2007 to Microsoft Office 2010 very quickly (assuming you had the same applications). On the hand I think upgrading from Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Student to Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Business was worthwhile in my case.
Setting up Microsoft Outlook 2010
Hotmail has a clunky and ugly user interface and a limited amount of features. Gmail has a lot of features but it also has a clunky and ugly user interface. Whatever you think about internet email, I find hotmail, gmail, and yahoo irritating in comparison to Microsoft Outlook which I have been using at work for many years.
Luckily you can connect Microsoft Outlook to various internet email services and thus get a nice and unified user interface. Microsoft Outlook 2010 supports Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, Exchange Server 2007, Exchange Server 2003, POP3, IMAP, and Windows Live Hotmail email accounts. When using a POP3 Email account the messages are downloaded to your computer and usually deleted from the server. One disadvantage of POP3 accounts is that it is difficult to view and save messages over multiple computers. When using IMAP accounts you have direct access to the servers and can view and process messages without downloading them. Hotmail works similar to an IMAP account.
Exchange Server is similar to IMAP but offers more functionality (MAPI). For example, at work, where we use Microsoft Exchange Server, Outlook includes an “out of office” tool for quickly setting up automatic replies in the event you won’t read your email for a while. For accounts for internet email you won’t have that but you can setup automatic replies by creating a rule, which is a little bit more cumbersome.
The easiest to setup is without doubt hotmail email accounts. When you go to the backstage view and click “Add Account” or when you start Microsoft Outlook 2010 for the first time it will ask for permission to install Outlook Connector 14 (OCL 14) and you should say OK. Next you will type in your user name and password and you are done.
For gmail POP3 is easier to setup than IMAP. However, I chose IMAP because of the aforementioned advantage as well as other advantages. First you need to enable IMAP in your gmail settings and then you find some instructions for adding an IMAP gmail account to Microsoft Outlook 2010 (click on Help in the backstage view). It is a few steps (it is a Wizard style dialog), but as long as you know your user name and password it is not bad. I have a special setup for gmail where I use a special domain for the email instead of gmail. Let’s assume my name is “Smith” then my email would be "email@example.com".I was somewhat positively surprised that it was just fine to set that up, and the setup was identical to regular gmail with IMAP. In addition to the hotmail account I have five IMAP gmail accounts added to my Microsoft Outlook 2010 installation. They all show up in the left hand pane in the Outlook window.
Microsoft Outlook 2010 was worth it for me
What I like the most about Microsoft Outlook 2010 in comparison to internet email and to some degree earlier versions of Outlook, is the intuitive user interface. Starting with Microsoft Outlook 2010 you have the Ribbon in all views. There are five tabs “File”, “Home”, “Send/Receive”, “Folder”, and “View”. Except the first tab, “File”, which is the backstage view all tabs display your emails in the main window, which is divided into four panes. Below I am giving a brief overview of the panes to give you a feeling for the user interface and the functionality. However, this overview applies to the default. Under the view tab you can change the layout.
As per the default layout; the left most pane displays a tree view of all your accounts (in my case six internet email accounts) and all the sub folders of every account, as well as some other stuff like contacts, calendar, etc. To the right of the left pane you have the list of emails. It is displayed in a scrollable window like in a MS word document. Instead of having to flip through lots of “next” you have it all in one scrollable window. It takes minutes to clean out 2,000 randomly dispersed junk mail messages instead of a morning. You open an email by double clicking and you get a separate window for the email message. To the right of the email list you have a preview window. It shows a preview of the email if you select an email. Then the rightmost pane features organization features like appointments, calendar, tasks, etc.
“Home” is the tab you would be using the most and in this case the ribbon displays basic tasks like “new email”, “move”, “reply”, “creating rules”, access to OneNote, “address book”, setup “meetings”, “filters”, etc. I find the search functionality to be nifty and another nifty feature is rules. Rules are very useful for a number of tasks (automatic reply mentioned above) including handling of spam. I can set up rules based on sender, subject, sent to, etc, and automatically have things like alerts, move to folder, or deletes (for spam) occur. That’s a useful one for me because I get lots of spam. It also allows automatic sorting of email into folders. Other things you can do are configuring reminders, copy folders, archiving, search, etc. In the backstage view (File) tab you can add accounts, manage accounts, rules & alerts, get help, etc.
I should add that there are other improvements to Outlook 2010 including pop-up details for message participants, an improved To-Do bar, and social networking features.
My experience with hotmail tells me that this must be working that the new Outlook Connector 14 is working very well. Not only was it easy to setup but I have not had any of the issues I’ve seen people complain about in regards to Outlook Connector 12 (Microsoft Outlook 2007). It is very stable and synchronization is fast considering our internet speed.
Overall the differences between Microsoft Outlook 2007 and Microsoft Outlook 2010 are not big but Microsoft Outlook 2010 is better. However, in my case I am mostly comparing Microsoft Office Home and Student and Microsoft Office Home and Business, which is comparing life with and without Microsoft Outlook 2010, and that is a big difference.
Overview of Microsoft Word 2010
As you know Microsoft Word 2010 is a newer version of Microsoft’s word processor. As far as I am concerned Microsoft Word is an excellent word processor, at least for home use and small business use. Depending on your needs it is worth buying. However, I would not use Microsoft Word for creating specialty documents or documents featuring advanced graphics or multi media. In the past I’ve written research articles and I would not use Microsoft Word for that either (LaTex is good for that).
Microsoft Word 2010 is identical in Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010 and Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010. However, there are differences between Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft Word 2010 worth mentioning.
Microsoft Word 2010 is pretty similar to Microsoft Word 2007. However, they added a few new features and they improved the search functionality and the equation editor. I’ve had a hard time switching between “Linear display” and “Professional display” in Microsoft Word 2007 but not in Microsoft Word 2010 so I think there might be a bug fix as well. The "Navigation Pane” is new for Microsoft Word 2010. It displays a content overview of your document with headings, sub headings, etc.
So in summary; upgrading from Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010 to Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010 won’t give you anything with respect to Microsoft Word. However, upgrading from Microsoft Office 2007 to Microsoft Office 2010 will give you some minor but nifty improvements.
Overview of Microsoft Excel 2010
Microsoft Excel 2010 is the newer spreadsheet application in Microsoft Office. It is a feature rich application. However, I use Microsoft Excel to do calculations, for creating spreadsheets, create equations, to automatically draw diagrams from data, store and organize large amounts of similar data, as a sort of data base, and also to interface with engineering simulations (via OLE) to automatically create and store statistics and tables. It is quite useful.
Microsoft Excel 2010 is identical in Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010 and Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010. However, there are differences between Microsoft Excel 2007 and Microsoft Excel 2010 worth mentioning.
Microsoft Excel 2010 is fairly similar to Microsoft Excel 2007. However, Microsoft Excel 2010 features the ribbon, the backstage view, and it has the equation editor from Microsoft Word. It is also better integrated with the web and mobile devices, and it has better programmability features. This may be important to some people. I should also mention that Microsoft Excel 2010 does not have the old silly maximum 64,000 rows restriction that Microsoft Excel 2003 did.
So in summary; upgrading from Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010 to Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010 won’t give you anything with respect to Microsoft Excel. However, upgrading from Microsoft Office 2007 to Microsoft Office 2010 will give you some improvements that might be important to some people.
Overview of Microsoft Powerpoint 2010
I think we’ve all had PowerPoint poisoning one time or another. PowerPoint is a presentation and slide software application that I think most of see and use quite often. Who doesn’t get various beautiful PowerPoint slide shows in there email every now and then? PowerPoint presentations can drive you nuts but they can be useful if PowerPoint is used properly.
Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 is identical in Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010 and Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010. However, there are differences between Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 and Microsoft PowerPoint 2010. In addition to some user interface changes (ribbon & backstage view) and file format improvements (applies to all office applications) you can edit video directly in PowerPoint, and you edit pictures. There is also a screen capture tool and improved animations.
Upgrading from Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010 to Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010 won’t give you anything with respect to Microsoft PowerPoint. However, upgrading from Microsoft Office 2007 to Microsoft Office 2010 will give you some improvements.
Final Thoughts on the Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Business Upgrade
As mentioned I upgraded from Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Student to Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Business because I wanted Microsoft Outlook but also because of the extended customer support and the fact that I wanted to make sure I am using Microsoft Office perfectly legally.
However, I also thought it worth discussing the differences between Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Office 2010.
I like Microsoft Outlook 2010 because of the nice user interface, the features, and I found the integration with hotmail in Microsoft Outlook 2010 using the new Outlook Connector 14 to be amazingly simple. Hotmail is the internet email account we use the most (yeah I know it is old and clunky), so the fact that the integration with hotmail in Microsoft Outlook 2010 seems to work so smoothly (stable and fast) is important to us.
Overall the improvements in Microsoft Office 2010 over Microsoft Office 2007 are relatively minor and if that is the upgrade path you are thinking about taking it depends a lot on your needs whether it is worth it or not.
Personally I am happy with my upgrade to Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010 but all upgrade paths might not be worth it to everyone. I give it four stars.