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Top 10 Office 2010 features for business

Top 10 Office 2010 features for business

Excel Sparklines

If you're looking to leverage the analysis capabilities of Excel, Office 2010 offers two tools that should help you get the most out of your spreadsheet data. The first is Sparklines, which are "intense, simple, word-sized graphics," as their inventor Edward Tufte describes them in his book "Beautiful Evidence." Sparklines -- which are embedded into the spreadsheet alongside the numbers being represented -- provide a swift visual cue to the meaning of the numbers. Sparklines can be created to show trends, such as sales growth over a period of time, or used to create "win/lose" data bars, which can represent numbers that exceeded or failed to meet expectations. Other uses for Sparklines include embedded bar charts, which can graphically represent month to month ranges in a single cell. Sparklines will prove to be an excellent tool for knowledge workers looking to give some visual flair to values in a spreadsheet.

PowerPivot for Excel

The second new goodie for Excel users is PowerPivot. Whereas Sparklines is a standard feature, PowerPivot is a freely downloadable Excel 2010 add-in that brings more computational power to an Excel sheet and provides fast manipulation on large data sets. In other words, PowerPivot works as a programming tool that can create complex graphs or calculations by pulling data from external sources, such as SQL databases, Microsoft Access, and other data stores. In many cases, PowerPivot can eliminate the need for custom programs or applications, allowing users to create complex analytical scenarios without the help of a programmer or other IT resources.

PowerPoint Broadcast

Knowledge workers who rely on the presentation capabilities of PowerPoint will be awestruck with Broadcast, arguably the most important feature added to PowerPoint since the product's inception. PowerPoint Broadcast allows users to share presentations with almost anyone, anywhere, via just a few mouse clicks.

Broadcast works by using a service, such as Windows Live or a locally configured Broadcast server, to display a slideshow on a remote worker's computer, and it supports one-to-many slide presentations, where a single presenter can present their slideshow to hundreds of users simultaneously. The Broadcast feature has the potential to displace many of the virtual meeting products on the market and can be used in conjunction with videoconferences and VoIP conference calls. It's a great fit for any number of local or remote scenarios where an individual needs to present a slideshow to multiple users, without the hassle of setting up bridges, virtual conferences, or virtual meeting spaces.

PowerPoint compression

Slideshows created under PowerPoint can quickly become bloated, unwieldy files that consume tens of megabytes of space. That problem will only get worse with the new graphics and video embedding capabilities found in PowerPoint 2010. Microsoft has taken a step to address this.

With PowerPoint 2010, users can selectively compress presentations for both size and performance, a task made easy with the Backstage View menu in PowerPoint 2010, where a Media Size and Performance wizard can selectively shrink down the file size of a presentation. Options include Presentation Quality, Internet Quality, and Low Quality. The Low Quality setting can shrink a video-laden presentation down by a factor of 10 or more. For example, it would not be unusual to see a 60MB presentation with high-def video shrink down to just 2MB to 3MB when compressed. The compression tool will solve many problems for both users and administrators by making it easier to email presentations, perhaps even eliminating the need for FTP servers or file-sharing sites to move large presentations around for review.

Paste Preview

Microsoft Office power users often find themselves cutting and pasting graphics, columns, large chunks of text, and many other elements between files. More often than not, they get unexpected results. For example, you may not want formatting to be copied from one column to another in Excel, or you may want to remove source formatting when copying text between Word documents. Office 2010's Paste Preview function gives you much better control over the pasting process.

Paste Preview works as the name implies, allowing you to see what a paste will look like before actually executing the command. What's more, Paste Preview offers multiple options to manipulate your clipboard contents before pasting. You can use it to remove or preserve formatting, convert to an image, remove borders, and so on, depending upon what application you are using and what type of data you are working with. Paste Preview will prove to be a major time-saver, especially for those working with large, complex spreadsheets where columns of numbers, associated formulas, and embedded formatting needs to be adjusted whenever you move something around.

Outlook Conversation View

Today, most users are inundated with hundreds of emails, from a multitude of contacts and concerning numerous projects, on a daily basis. As a result, email is often more of a burden than a productivity tool. The latest version of Outlook aims to alleviate much of that strain by offering new ways to organize your email, and one of its most powerful tools is the enhanced Conversation View.

Conversation View, which you may have used in previous versions of Outlook, has gone through significant changes to address user complaints. It's a feature that heavy email users will actually find effective, as it can help to streamline inboxes and remove the chaos from email conversation chains.

Conversation View groups related emails based on subject lines, From and Reply To fields, and other data gathered from IMAP data fields; it also now works across folders. In the past, if you had hundreds of emails from multiple parties about a particular subject, and those emails were stored under different folders, the Conversation View wasn't able to display them all together. In Outlook 2010, Conversation View will bring those emails together to create a date-ordered view of the entire stream.

The ability to work across folders, ignore selected messages, and collapse conversations to avoid displaying duplicate text brings welcome functionality to the Conversation View. If you were one of the users who found fault with Conversation View in the past, note that Outlook 2010 addresses enough of those faults to make it a worth another look.

Excel Sparklines

If you're looking to leverage the analysis capabilities of Excel, Office 2010 offers two tools that should help you get the most out of your spreadsheet data. The first is Sparklines, which are "intense, simple, word-sized graphics," as their inventor Edward Tufte describes them in his book "Beautiful Evidence." Sparklines -- which are embedded into the spreadsheet alongside the numbers being represented -- provide a swift visual cue to the meaning of the numbers. Sparklines can be created to show trends, such as sales growth over a period of time, or used to create "win/lose" data bars, which can represent numbers that exceeded or failed to meet expectations. Other uses for Sparklines include embedded bar charts, which can graphically represent month to month ranges in a single cell. Sparklines will prove to be an excellent tool for knowledge workers looking to give some visual flair to values in a spreadsheet.

PowerPivot for Excel

The second new goodie for Excel users is PowerPivot. Whereas Sparklines is a standard feature, PowerPivot is a freely downloadable Excel 2010 add-in that brings more computational power to an Excel sheet and provides fast manipulation on large data sets. In other words, PowerPivot works as a programming tool that can create complex graphs or calculations by pulling data from external sources, such as SQL databases, Microsoft Access, and other data stores. In many cases, PowerPivot can eliminate the need for custom programs or applications, allowing users to create complex analytical scenarios without the help of a programmer or other IT resources.

PowerPoint Broadcast

Knowledge workers who rely on the presentation capabilities of PowerPoint will be awestruck with Broadcast, arguably the most important feature added to PowerPoint since the product's inception. PowerPoint Broadcast allows users to share presentations with almost anyone, anywhere, via just a few mouse clicks.

Broadcast works by using a service, such as Windows Live or a locally configured Broadcast server, to display a slideshow on a remote worker's computer, and it supports one-to-many slide presentations, where a single presenter can present their slideshow to hundreds of users simultaneously. The Broadcast feature has the potential to displace many of the virtual meeting products on the market and can be used in conjunction with videoconferences and VoIP conference calls. It's a great fit for any number of local or remote scenarios where an individual needs to present a slideshow to multiple users, without the hassle of setting up bridges, virtual conferences, or virtual meeting spaces.

PowerPoint compression

Slideshows created under PowerPoint can quickly become bloated, unwieldy files that consume tens of megabytes of space. That problem will only get worse with the new graphics and video embedding capabilities found in PowerPoint 2010. Microsoft has taken a step to address this.

With PowerPoint 2010, users can selectively compress presentations for both size and performance, a task made easy with the Backstage View menu in PowerPoint 2010, where a Media Size and Performance wizard can selectively shrink down the file size of a presentation. Options include Presentation Quality, Internet Quality, and Low Quality. The Low Quality setting can shrink a video-laden presentation down by a factor of 10 or more. For example, it would not be unusual to see a 60MB presentation with high-def video shrink down to just 2MB to 3MB when compressed. The compression tool will solve many problems for both users and administrators by making it easier to email presentations, perhaps even eliminating the need for FTP servers or file-sharing sites to move large presentations around for review.

Paste Preview

Microsoft Office power users often find themselves cutting and pasting graphics, columns, large chunks of text, and many other elements between files. More often than not, they get unexpected results. For example, you may not want formatting to be copied from one column to another in Excel, or you may want to remove source formatting when copying text between Word documents. Office 2010's Paste Preview function gives you much better control over the pasting process.

Paste Preview works as the name implies, allowing you to see what a paste will look like before actually executing the command. What's more, Paste Preview offers multiple options to manipulate your clipboard contents before pasting. You can use it to remove or preserve formatting, convert to an image, remove borders, and so on, depending upon what application you are using and what type of data you are working with. Paste Preview will prove to be a major time-saver, especially for those working with large, complex spreadsheets where columns of numbers, associated formulas, and embedded formatting needs to be adjusted whenever you move something around.

Outlook Conversation View

Today, most users are inundated with hundreds of emails, from a multitude of contacts and concerning numerous projects, on a daily basis. As a result, email is often more of a burden than a productivity tool. The latest version of Outlook aims to alleviate much of that strain by offering new ways to organize your email, and one of its most powerful tools is the enhanced Conversation View.

Conversation View, which you may have used in previous versions of Outlook, has gone through significant changes to address user complaints. It's a feature that heavy email users will actually find effective, as it can help to streamline inboxes and remove the chaos from email conversation chains.

Conversation View groups related emails based on subject lines, From and Reply To fields, and other data gathered from IMAP data fields; it also now works across folders. In the past, if you had hundreds of emails from multiple parties about a particular subject, and those emails were stored under different folders, the Conversation View wasn't able to display them all together. In Outlook 2010, Conversation View will bring those emails together to create a date-ordered view of the entire stream.

The ability to work across folders, ignore selected messages, and collapse conversations to avoid displaying duplicate text brings welcome functionality to the Conversation View. If you were one of the users who found fault with Conversation View in the past, note that Outlook 2010 addresses enough of those faults to make it a worth another look.


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