By Adrian Booth

In business, many of us are cautious with new technological developments.

The latest gizmos designed to simplify processes, speed-up our operation and help enhance the look of our communications might all sound very appealing, but are they really going to be worth the outlay and time investment to get the best out of them?

If it isn’t broken and all that, but there again, we won’t know what we are missing unless we try it.

We all know people who like to cling to really old software, but there’s no doubt that means simple tasks take much longer, and they don’t even know about the things they can’t do.

Anyway, cautious or curious you may be pleased to know Microsoft makes Office 2010, their latest suite of interactive business software, available to download as a free 60 day trial. So you can see for yourself what Microsoft has done to this classic workhorse without having to buy it.

Like around 500,000,000 other business users, I’ve been using various incarnations of Office for years and for the past few years I’ve had Office 2007. It does the job and I am happy with it, but some aspects of Office 2010 I’ve been hearing about caught my interest. So I’ve downloaded the trial copy, which didn’t take long.
I have to say that straight away I felt at home with the new version, because at first it doesn’t look that different to Office 2007. That’s a big relief to me. I don’t have time to be lost with these program upgrades; I need to still feel I know my way around.

Some people are resistant to changing to Office 2010 because they are concerned that some of their clients and contacts won’t be able to open the files they send them.

Actually, this isn’t often a problem for me, particularly in recent years I’ve got used to saving files as 2003 as a matter of course. I’ve done a lot of work in the rail industry, for instance, and many franchises still use ancient versions of word. Saving files as PDFs is another option.

Actually, if you come from a version like Office 2003 or earlier you might find the appearance a little strange at first. The tabbed toolbar, known as the ribbon now runs across these programs. But don’t worry; Microsoft anticipates we might need help in getting to grips with the new features, so they include tutorials to make sure we know what everything does and how.

Here are some highlights.

Sparklines: Everyone has their strengths, and some people find it is easy to see trends by looking at tables of figures. However, if you don’t, sparklines is a new Office 2010 feature, which allows you to spot data trends like yearly income analysis by customer at a glance.

Save as PDF: This was in Office 2007 too, a hidden gem of huge benefit to your customers because you ensure document integrity. Just go to “save as” and select PDF.

PowerPoint broadcast: Ever have to present to customers over the phone? If the file is too big to send, or you want to look more professional than always saying “next slide”, you can use ‘broadcast slide show’ to present a PowerPoint slideshow to anyone with access to a supported web browser. If you want to go even further, get a free trial of LiveMeeting as part of Business Productivity Online Suite (MS version of cloud services). You’ll be able to highlight areas, and use a pointer as you talk!

There’s nothing to lose by giving a trial of the new Office a go for 60 days, and it is free: www7.buyoffice.microsoft.com

Watch the video below featuring Gill Le Fevre, IW Online Services Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft UK, explaining how Office 365 addresses the challenges that small businesses face.


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