Office-2010-Logo Originally I planned to write an article about the most important new features in Office 2010. But when I skimmed over the numerous “what’s new in Office 2010 reviews” out there, it soon became clear that such an article is rather pointless. I am trying Office 2010 myself and the enhancements I liked most were not even mentioned in these articles.

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I came to the conclusion that a fairly objective review of such a complex product isn’t possible. There are simply too many new features. And choosing among the many improvements will always be highly subjective. Even though you may be interested to know what I like about Office 2010, such information is of little value when it comes to the question about whether deploying Office 2010 in your organization makes sense because I am probably not a typical end user.

Another approach would be to list all new features and functions. This would allow you to find out which, if any, new features would justify an upgrade. If 4sysops were a blog for Office users, this would indeed be an option. I tried something comparable with all new Windows 7 features.

However, knowing about all new Office 2010 features would only be helpful for YOU to decide whether an upgrade is worthwhile. But can you also make this decision for the users in your organization? I think in most companies IT pros play a crucial role in the decision process about software upgrades. I suppose in many organizations the Windows Vista evaluation went more or less like this (of course, not in yours):

Admin 1: So shall we deploy Vista?

Admin 2: I have read that Vista is a complete failure.

Admin 3: I installed it yesterday on my PC at home. So far I didn’t find a single new feature I really need. UAC starts getting on my nerves. Even worse is that there are no Vista drivers for my old webcam. I downgraded to XP.

Admin 4: Admin 5 told me that he has heard that our ERP software is not supported on Vista. By the way, he can’t come to this meeting because he left early today.

Admin 6: InfoWorld wrote that XP is much faster than Vista. Our PCs wouldn't be powerful enough for this bloated OS. By the way, InfoWorld launched a "save XP petition".

Admin 7: So we all agree that Vista is only a mess?

Admin 1: Okay, I’ll tell the boss that we had better stick with what we know.

And this is how the decision process went about Windows 7 in the same organization:

Admin 1: So shall we deploy Windows 7?

Admin 2: Everyone says that Windows 7 is what Vista should have been.

Admin 3: My new webcam works well with Windows 7. Windows 7 is supposed to be very secure.

Admin 4: Admin 5 went home early today, but he said we will need new ERP software anyway because the vendor went bankrupt.

Admin 6: Our old PCs are too slow for Windows 7, but this is normal for a new operating system. We should buy new PCs.

Admin 7: So we all agree that Windows 7 rocks?

Admin 1: Great. Then I’ll tell the boss that we need new ERP software, Windows 7 licenses, and new PCs because this will reduce our costs.

You don’t want to know how this organization will evaluate Office 2010. The question is if IT pros should decide at all whether software upgrades that affect the work of end users make sense or not. In my view it is impossible to anticipate the implications of an Office upgrade. Even if you run extensive tests and inform yourself about every new feature, you still don’t have clue about the effects on the work of end users. That said, theory can’t help you here. What you need is empirical data.

My recommendation is to put together a group of end users who try Office 2010 for some time. It can’t hurt to include some of those users who refuse to learn new software simply because they will retire in five years anyway. Don't forget to ensure that they are trained first.

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After some months you only have to ask your test subjects one question: Do you want to downgrade? If even the I-retire-in-five-years-anyway group doesn’t allow you to touch their PCs, you know what you have to do.

8 Comments
  1. pete 12 years ago

    hey, that's us 🙁

  2. Officer 12 years ago

    But 2010 doesn't have as many new features over 2007. Screenshot tool? It was in OneNote 2007 it just made it into Word. Animated splash screen? No thanks. Plus Fitt's law gone. Document scanning and OCR gone. WLL addins won't work. No promised OOXML Strict support.

  3. pete, oh really? Which admin are you in these meetings?

    Officer, I am sure we could discuss missing and new features for hours. As usual with such discussions, in the end you would be more convinced that Office 2007 is better and I would love Office 2010 even more. But I can tell you that I can't imagine working with Office 2007 ever again. By the way, OneNote is now one of my favorite new tools. I found this tool rather useless in Office 2007.

  4. pete 12 years ago

    I'm the new guy, trying to speak loud enough to be heard but not get fired. Example we just went to XP SP3, lookout were moving fast now.

  5. Fred 12 years ago

    The accuracy of this article annoys me. Particularly that it's very accurate.

    I'm 2

  6. Fred 12 years ago

    Oh and... do you like 2010? I do. I like to auto text formating when you paste part. Very fun.

  7. pete, you probably know the saying that you can't get fired if you buy IBM. The same applies now to Windows 7.

    Fred, I love Office 2010. So many tiny improvements. There is no doubt that Office 2010 improves productivity significantly. So far the new user interface of Outlook is my favorite enhancement.

  8. Tsais 11 years ago

    Office 2010 is better, because users have forgotten by now, how Office 2007 broke all their keyboard shortcuts that had worked a charm for 2 decades, and forced them into excessive, slow, RSS inducing mouse use.

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