Office 2010 has everyone wondering what Microsoft can offer to make it worthwhile to upgrade to this latest Office suite. Considering the extreme ribbon issue with 2007 (which I happen to love), you might be concerned that the new Office suite would contain yet another mind-blowing visual change. But those fears have been put to rest. The ribbon remains (although I'm sure many of you hoped to see menus again), and in fact, it now reaches out to the rest of the Office suite as opposed to simply being in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and the message end of Outlook.
Let me admit at the outset that I wasn't happy working with the Office 2010 technical preview. That is not to say there won't be some solid changes comes release time -- I hope there will be. In fact, the product engineering team encourages feedback for changes by providing simple Send-A-Smile icons on your task bar: You click the smile or the frown on your task bar to give positive or negative feedback on specific items. I love the idea, as it gives me a place to vent.
So what am I upset about? For starters, the interface feels like a Web interface, and that's not a compliment. It feels clunky, as it has in other recent Microoft products that use it. Office 2007 was sleek; the ribbon worked smoothly. By contrast, Office 2010 operates like it's coming off a Web site, with the same inferior experience you get from Outlook Web Access as opposed to using the desktop client version of Outlook. Alhough both look the same, there is a real negative difference in performance and style when an application isn't installed on your system. But in this case, Office 2010 is installed. I'm sure this is part of Microsoft's plan to be more Web-friendly, but I intend on sending a frown on that one.
However, I will send a smile in regard to the configurable ribbon. You can now create your own ribbon tabs and move items around at will. It's definitely a plus in this latest version.
Back to frowns, I don't like that Microsoft removed the Office button orb. I like orbs, and the orb works smoothly with the Vista/Windows 7 theme. But in Office 2010, it is more of a button/tab selection. And the button opens up to an overly dramatic color scheme that blasts you with blue, green, orange, or whatever color matches the product a bit too harshly.