Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010 - Upgrade (2 Computer/s, 3 User/s)

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Office 2010--great product, decent price

Jun 26, 2010 (Updated Jul 3, 2010)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Several improvements over 2007

Cons:As with 2007, no option to revert to traditional menus--Ribbon is mandatory. 

The Bottom Line: I have extensively used Word 2003, 2007, and 2010, and can definitely say that Word 2010 is their best product yet.


For what it's worth, this review goes for ALL versions of MS Office 2010, not just Home and Business.

After using the release candidate for Office 2010 in the fall of 2009 for a while, as well as the beta for 2010 that Microsoft made available more recently, I have just purchased an official copy of Office 2010 for myself, and can confidently tell people that if they use any office program (a word processor, a powerpoint-presentation program, or a spreadsheet) a lot, they will get their money’s worth. Since I 99% of my time in Office is spent in Word, I will focus this review on things you can do in Word 2010. 

First, a couple of comments about the (in)famous Ribbon. This was the biggest change in word processors of any kind, since they came out of DOS and started running toolbars and cursors controlled with a mouse in the 90s. Many people have vilified the Ribbon; one thing you have to realize is that the Ribbon (used not only in Office 2007 but also in 2010) is easier to adjust to if you are newer to word processors (or just casual user); long-time users who worked extensively in Word before, tend to have a harder time adjusting to the Ribbon. The basic idea was to take all the commands and options that you could access via the traditional menus (like File, View, Tools, etc.) and group them in themes, each with their own ribbon. And so Word 2010 has Home (where you make most of the formatting changes); Insert (where you insert things like tables and graphics—in fact, think of the Home Ribbon as Formatting); Page Layout (where you change the margins and switch the orientation from landscape to portrait view, and vice-versa); References (where you edit footnotes, captions, and tables of contents); Mailings (where you work with mail-merge features); Review (where you work with spelling and grammar, track changes and comments on the original text, and translate the text); View (where you can switch to a split window, which lets you view two parts of the same document at the same time, in mini-windows, one on top of the other; you can also switch to full screen, print layout, web layout); and finally, Add-Ins, where you will see your macros. Microsoft announced that they wanted to radically change the user-interface from the old Word 2003 and earlier, because too many of the commands were getting buried in the menus, and the side-panes that opened up—they said that many users, even experienced, old-time users, didn’t know about a lot of Word’s capabilities. So like it or not, Word’s capabilities are now accessible to users via these Ribbons. 

Like I said, if you are a new or occasional user of word processors, using the Ribbon will probably not be a big deal at all. I have been using word processors since the days of Word Perfect 4.0 for DOS, so it took me quite a while to actually think that the Ribbon wasn’t a major step backward.  In Word at least, I don’t recall any command that really should be in another Ribbon. You have to realize that many things that you can modify in Word will not be found in any ribbon, but will be in the Options window, which is in the File menu along the left. 

About the Ribbon, you can keep it in view if you like; or, if you are like me and don’t want to give up that extra inch of screen real-estate, you can just click that arrow on the upper-right side of the screen next to the blue question mark. Clicking that arrow will toggle the Ribbon in and out of view. 

Finally—in case you don’t like hunting around the Ribbon for things you want to do quickly, keep in mind two things. One, as with 2007, Word 2010 has a nice mini-formatting toolbar that appears whenever you select any text.  The most common editing functions are included—font, font size, bold, underline, italics, indenting, center justify, as well as color of the font. So you don’t have to move the cursor up to the top of the screen, for 90% of the things you will want to do with text after blocking it out. Nice. 

A second thing to keep in mind is that, also with Word 2007, Microsoft lets you place your own icons that will appear permanently at the top of your screen, in what is called the Quick Access Toolbar. I have about 10 or so icons there, for my most common commands. That way, I don’t have to click on the right ribbon, and then look for the particular command. Instead, I just go straight for the QAT and click. Macros can be given icons and placed there as well (Word does assign a basic icon to macros, but you can modify the icon to something more suitable). 

OK—one last thing about the Ribbon, and something new with 2010. Microsoft now allows you to customize what commands are in the Ribbon. Go to File, Options, then click on Customize Ribbon, and you can insert and remove all the commands you want, in these various Ribbon categories. I don’t do this at all, but obviously some will want to take advantage of this. 

Here are some other things that are new, or better developed, in Word 2010:
1.       Live preview
Although this did make an appearance in 2007, it is used more in 2010. Any time you block out text, and then hover the cursor over the icon for making a change, such as applying a new style to text, or formatting such as fonts, boldprint, italics, etc.—the text you have blocked out will (temporarily) accept the formatting change you are hovering over, so you can see what it will look like before you actually apply the change.

This might not seem like much, but if you use Word a lot, you will find yourself wanting to apply just the right font to a certain passage, and you can easily and quickly scroll through the font selections, without having to apply a particular font, hit enter, then look at the result, then take your cursor back up to the font select dialog, etc. This is very handy.

2.       Search pane
This is also one of the big improvements for me, and was not in 2007 at all. Instead of hitting Ctrl+F to search for text, only to find that the search dialog window covered over the text you are searching for, now, in 2010, when you hit Ctrl+F, a search pane opens up on the left, and you type in your search terms, but the text in the document you are searching is no longer covered up.

Additionally, in the search pane, you get one-sentence snippets of each of the search results—in other words, if you search for “Lakers” in your document, you will see a preview of each sentence that has the word “Lakers” in it. This way, you can quickly scan for just the particular instance/sentence you want.

3.       Improved SmartArt selection
This is one of the main benefits of 2007 in my opinion—using SmartArt to graphically present your ideas on charts. As a college instructor I love making charts that portray the various causes of the Civil War or World War I in this way.  In addition, by hovering over the SmartArt in the ribbon, you can see how your document would look by placing the text inside the SmartArt, in different shapes.  Word 2010 has been given more of these SmartArt shapes than 2007 had.

4.       Export/import QAT settings.  
This is one of the major pains of Office 2007—Microsoft eliminated the Save My Settings Wizard used with Office 2003, and didn’t replace it with anything else (at least not within the Office suite). Here, at least, you can save the customized QAT (Quick Access Toolbar), including macros, so you don’t have to go to the trouble of finding all those icons again, in the event you want to uninstall/reinstall MS Office, or duplicate the same settings on another computer. If you want to export your QAT settings (so you can save them in the event that your hard drive crashes, or if you want to set up a second computer just like you have a first computer set up, go to Word’s File menu, Options. In the new window that pops up, click on Quick Access Toolbar, then on the right pane, look for a button that says “Import/Export.” It creates a UI file that you can save somewhere and then import into a fresh installation of Word 2010.


6.       You don’t have to find a hidden “Developer” ribbon to see a Macros menu on the ribbon. It is in the Add-Ins ribbon.

7.       Save as PDF is now part of Save As… dialog; instead of your default format, scroll to the PDF selection.  This is very convenient to use, since without this function, when I would want to save a document as a PDF, I would have to go to the print menu, and then select a “print-to-PDF” utility, which would then become the default printer for my computer, until I changed it back again. But now, I can keep my default printer as that, and when I want to create PDFs, just go to the save as dialog. With Office 2007, you could still do this, but it was a separate download. Word can do this automatically now.
HINT: When you have typed in the title of the document after selecting Save as, hit Tab, and then type the letter P. Hitting Tab will move your cursor to the file format selection field; hitting the P key will select the PDF format. Then hit enter and you are done.

8.       One of the nice functions of OneNote (included in all versions of Office 2010—Home and Student, Home and Business, and all versions of Professional, which wasn’t the case with Ofice 2007) is its screenshot and OCR functions. Let me describe, if you are not familiar with this. A screenshot is a graphic image of whatever is appearing on your computer screen. I take these when I am viewing books online, and can’t download them or save the pages. I use OneNote to take a screenshot (hit the Windows+S keys), quickly tell OneNote what part of the screen I want to capture, and then it is automatically sent to a new OneNote file. I right click the graphic of the text, and select Copy Text from Picture. I then simply hit Ctrl+V, or right-click and paste, and the text from the picture is pasted—either onto OneNote, or MS Word.

If you view a lot of files online that you can’t download, this is a real time-saver—much much faster than typing them up manually. Personal tests of the OneNote OCR function (that is, copying the words in the image from the screenshot, and converting it to text that I can paste into a Word document) show that it is noticeably more accurate than OneNote 2007. In other words, the text I paste into a Word document, from OneNote 2010, has fewer errors in it than the same text, pasted from OneNote 2007 (which had these same capabilities, just not as good as in 2010).

9.       You can now set the default type of paste—to just be plain text, or to carry over the formatting from the original document it was copied from. 
This can be helpful if you are copying text from a webpage, and don’t want the particular formatting of letters, or links, pasted into your Word document. To change the default setting (Word will always let you switch, immediately after pasting, from plain text to formatted text, just like in previous versions), go to the File menu, then Options. In the new Word Options dialog, select Advanced on the left.  Look on the right pane, for the Cut, Copy and Paste section. The first four options there you can change, depending on whether the selection pasted is from the same document, another Word document, or some other program, etc. I like to paste plain text by default, because I paste so much from web pages that it is a pain to have to remove the formatting by hand. Now I can let Word do it for me—automatically. In earlier versions of Word you couldn’t change the default setting like you can in 2010. 

Although I do feel that Office 2010 is a dramatic improvement over 2007, and well worth the money you invest in it, this is not to say that everything about it is good. The biggest stumbling block will most likely continue to be the Ribbon, which as been carried over from 2007. It took me months of using 2007 before I got to not intensely dislike the Ribbon in 2007, and if you never used Office 2007, then keep in mind that this switch very well might take a while to get used to. 

Having said that, Microsoft’s commitment to the Ribbon isn’t 100%. As with Office 2007, there is the File menu back in the upper left corner (in 2007 they used the Office Pearl), which looks suspiciously like the old file menu (at least, much more like it than part of the Ribbon).  

However, the Help button is placed in two locations—the upper right corner (which I don’t ever recall it being there in earlier versions of Word), and in the bottom of the File menu. I am used to the old, 2003 way of having it in the menu on the far right side. It took me a while before I got used to its new location. It still has the Options dialog in this File menu—where many of the things in the old Tools/Options dialog are now located. 

You now have to click twice to get to the recent files list—you go to the File menu, and then click on Recent. This isn’t as quick and convenient as the older versions of word, that displayed them as soon as you clicked on the File menu. Word 2010 has a new option, when you click on the Recent option. You can, if you want to, also display the most recent files in this File menu directly (as opposed to only after you click on the Recent option). This is appealing; if you want this, click on the Recent option, and then, at the bottom of the window, select “Quickly Access this Number of Recent Documents,” and then choose how many you want to display (they are displayed underneath the “Close” option in the File menu. However, keep in mind that the more Quick Access files you choose, the greater the likelihood that options on the File menu that appear below these files, will be invisible until you click on a scroll bar along the right side, as these recent files will push them down until you can even see them. Anything more than 12 recent files pushes the lower options on the File menu down so that you can’t see them. This is rather awkward. 

All in all, I would strongly recommend Office 2010. I have used word processor programs for years, and have spent a long time using WordPerfect, OpenOffice, as well as several other lesser-known programs as well. Nothing has ever come close to MS Word, and 2010 continues this tradition of excellence. If you use office programs a lot, I can guarantee you that you will see the limits of OpenOffice (which is free, admittedly) or even Word Perfect. 

If you do want to purchase this, a few options here. One—if you are a student or college faculty, you can purchase MS Office 2010 cheaply. Students can go to a link that Microsoft has sponsored, http://www.theultimatesteal.com/, where if you have an .edu email address, they will sell you Office 2010 Professional Academic for $80. If you are an instructor, or a student in a K-12 institution, you can go to http://www.academicsuperstore.com/, and get Office 2010 Professional Plus, for  $80 (they will want proof of status for students as well as faculty). This is how I got Office 2010. Now with Academic Superstore, the order had a glitch and four days later, I still hadn’t gotten the registration code (serial number) to register Office 2010, so I had to call them, but they did take care of it. 

If you still aren’t sure that Office 2010 is for you, you can download a free trial version for 60 days; from my understanding this trial version has the full capabilities of the registered version. Certainly any file you create in this trial version can be read and edited in other programs, after the trial has expired. You can get a free trial at office.microsoft.com.

UPDATE (July 2, 2010): There are several versions of Office 2010 around. The Home and Student version gives you three licenses (you can install it on three computers); all other retail versions allow you to install it on two.


Recommend this product? Yes

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