Microsoft's new Office 2010 productivity suite goes on sale at retail outlets across South Africa today, with the company's Albie Bester hailing it as "Office for the Internet Generation".
Office is the software suite that includes applications such as Word, Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint, amongst others. It's the world's best-selling software - and Bester says it will make a real difference in the modern computer user's life.
"Office 2010 makes it easier for people to get things done from anywhere: you can work on files from any PC, any browser and nearly every smartphone," said Bester. "It also helps you create better content, with new tools and features, and it's easier than ever to work together, communicate and share ideas and content."
Apart from a brand new look, with many new features, Microsoft expects one of Office 2010's biggest selling points to be the way it incorporates social media into Outlook.
"Through Outlook, people can keep track of email conversations, stay up to date with their friends and family, see Facebook updates and LinkedIn pictures for their e-mail contacts, and add a contact as a friend on social networking sites -- without ever leaving the application," said Bester.
Office 2010 makes it easier for users to recover documents they closed without saving, and basic photo-editing commands are built into all of the programs. And the Ribbon, the giant toolbar at the top of the window, looks less cluttered, and users can customise it to suit their own needs.
In Excel, a key new feature is called sparklines: tiny line graphs that appear right in individual cells of your spreadsheet. PowerPoint now has the ability for users to trim or create fades in videos on their slides, and embed videos into their slide shows rather than merely linking to an external video file. Best of all, says Bester, you can broadcast a slide show over the Web - a feature that could save a lot of travel.
Another big introduction is WebApps, which are free lightweight versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote that are used on the Web.
"You'll love the ease of editing, saving and sharing documents directly to and from the Web," said Bester.
"Microsoft offers a free 25-gigabyte storage space for these files - a great feature called SkyDrive within Windows Live. From this space, you and your colleagues or classmates can open the same document simultaneously, and even edit it simultaneously. Each of you can be working on a different paragraph; hitting Save updates everyone's copies, more or less instantly."
The launch of Office 2010 comes on the back of Windows 7, Microsoft's new computer operating system, which launched last October. "Add in Windows Phone 7 series which will launch towards the end of this year, and people now have more power in their PC, Web and phone than ever before," said Bester.
Microsoft South Africa