Office 2010: The Pros and Cons for Businesses

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The Pros

It Breaks Down Old Boundaries

Forrester lists three features in Office 2010 that make it "boundary breaking": The use of SharePoint Workspace (formerly known as Groove) to share

and edit SharePoint content both online and offline; easing enterprise security fears by making Office Web Apps available privately as part of a company's license agreement; and integrating social media tools from sites such as LinkedIn in Outlook through Outlook Social Connector.

These new integration features -- if they work smoothly -- give Microsoft an upper hand over more established online productivity suites like Google Apps and Zoho, according to the Forrester report.

Simplified Suite Options for Enterprises

There are seven total editions of Office 2010, but for volume licensing customers (mostly enterprise-size companies), Microsoft has reduced that amount to two: Standard and Professional Plus. This is half as many as Office 2007 (Ultimate and Enterprise editions have been eliminated).

Office Professional Plus 2010 will include OneNote, SharePoint Workspace (formerly Groove) and Office Web Apps. Office Standard 2010 will include Publisher, OneNote and Office Web Apps. Pricing is not yet available for these non-retail versions.

Forrester states in the report that having fewer volume-licensing suites will reduce confusion and make it easier for enterprise customers to "understand the distinctions between each offering and choose the right suite to meet their organization's needs."

With the volume-licensed editions, businesses with a Software Assurance agreement can host Office Web Apps in a private cloud within the company's firewall, and then give workers access to the apps via the Web. "This should appeal to enterprise buyers wanting to retain more control of security and access," writes McLeish.

The report also notes that Google has plans to provide Google Apps in a private cloud, while Zoho currently offers private cloud installations through partner VMware.

There's a Slew of New Features

The Office 2010 upgrade may be worth it for companies simply because there's a lot of new stuff.

Forrester highlights user interface enhancements such as more command options in Backstage view (the Office logo button used to access Backstage view in Office 2007 has been changed to a "File" tab in Office 2010), as well as more memory with the 64-bit version, links from Word to OneNote, and a feature in Excel called Sparklines that provides bar and line graphs next to data.

The report also cites security improvements to force password complexity, a protected mode for viewing downloaded files, and more control of e-mail threads in Outlook.

For a look at what else is new in Office 2010, click here.

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