Microsoft Office 2010 beta review

The beta of Microsoft Office 2010 is now available for the public to download. We find out what’s new since the Technical Preview rolled out over the summer.

InfoPath

InfoPath's biggest change, apart from the ribbon interface, is the splitting of the application into separate Designer and Filler tools so that end users don't need the Designer tool, just the lightweight form filler. InfoPath can be used to design custom forms for any SharePoint list which can then be filled in using just the internet browser if the SharePoint Server has the InfoPath Forms Service.

InfoPath SharePoint

InfoPath forms can be used in SharePoint, via email or just on their own.

SharePoint Workspace

SharePoint Workspace (ne Groove) allows you to take virtually any SharePoint 2010 list or document library offline while you travel and synchronise your changes back to the server whenever you are next connected. It also keeps the old Groove functionality of replicating ad-hoc projects full of documents, lists and other data between occasionally connected users without the need for a SharePoint server.

SharePoint

SharePoint Workspace lets you take virtually any SharePoint list and document library offline, which could be useful when out and about or travelling.

Compatibility and file formats

Office 2010 uses the OOXML file formats (ISO 29500) by default for Word, Excel and PowerPoint but it will also read and write the older binary file formats and the ODF (ISO 26300) file formats.

There is also a compatibility pack for Office 2000, XP (2002) and 2003 so users of those versions can read and write files in the new formats. The non-native formats open in "Compatibility Mode" where newer features not supported by the formats are disabled.

Support for ODF files is limited, particularly in Excel, and other manufacturers' applications supporting ODF files may struggle to read and edit Microsoft's implementation. Access 2010 uses the same format as Access 2007 (*.accdb) but can use the older .mdb format. OneNote 2010 has a new file format but will freely convert notebooks to and from the previous format.

File formats

OOXML (ISO 29500) is the native format but you can set the default save format to any of these options.

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