So – you are one of those people that has a perfectly working copy of Office Professional 2007 and you still decide to download a beta copy of Office 2010 to work with? Well congratulations, you are now a beta tester, and I am one of those people too!
At the first look, most of the software hasn’t seemed to have changed much – but after digging a little deeper I did find a few things that were incredibly different…
Outook 2007 had the reading pane, the task pane, navigation pane, etc… All of those panes are very useful. Microsoft decided to add yet another pane; the “People Pane”. I found this option to be a real pane in the behind so I immediately closed it by going to View>>People Pane>>Off. The People Pane is for finding all of your conversations from a particular person. Although this is indeed an extremely useful feauture (I can’t count how many times I did a search for someones name in the search bar to find mail from a particular person), the pane seems to need a good portion of much needed room from the reading pane.
New in 2007 was the “ribbon” feature. The purpose of this was to make navigation easier and to organize different features and functions of your favorite Office applications. Unfortunately, I think it seemed to confuse people more than it helped people (I still have trouble formatting in Microsoft Word 2007). But, Outlook was still much simpler to use because of the lack of the ribbon – well, I have great news for people who love bad news… The ribbon virus has spread to Outlook in 2010. Upon my first glance I was extremely disappointed to see the ribbon in Outlook, but after some search and discovery I figured out that it wasn’t as complex and confusing as I had first suspected. Much to my surprise, everything was well organized and all of my favorite features and functions were right where I expected they would be. This is a good thing for Microsoft and Users.
Split Conversations is also a new feature in Outlook, and has come in quite handy for me. I recieve multiple alerts with the same subject in my inbox every day and I have what seems to be neverending conversations with various people throughout the day every day. Outlook 2010 has made all of these much simpler. When you click View>>Date (Conversations) or Arrange By: Date (Conversations), you can click on a message with an arrow next to it and view all of the messages in the particular conversation right below it – so there is no more searching through your inbox looking for “that one message from that one person from somewhere around 2:00 pm”. This feature is much like the People Pane in that it oraganizes your messages in a way that makes it easier to find past messages.
And if finding messages by person or by subject isn’t enough for you, there are many more Filters you can use to find your mail. You can filter by Has Attachment, Date, Category, Flag (very useful for me because I flag everything), and just about any other criteria you can think of. Just go to Home>>Filter E-Mail for basic filters, or click on More Filters at the bottom of that list to view all of your filter and search options.
Overall I think Microsoft has done well with Outlook – they have significantly improved search features and made it a lot less time-consuming to find messages in an ever-growing Inbox. I will continue to use the Beta with confidence as I have over the last couple of weeks and continue to give you guys feedback as I come across it.