Microsoft Outlook is software used for managing information, many people use it only for emails but I like to be different and these days use it for everything except email. It has been around for many years and there are many versions of it available, these days Outlook is included in Microsoft Office packages and although there are slight changes in each updated version the main features remain the same. Lots of computers are sold with an Office package included, to buy it seperately you will be looking at around £80.
I've had outlook for many years and used to use it every day at work but only started using it at home a few weeks ago. I got fed up of notebooks, diaries and scraps of paper in my handbag, cupboards, drawers and every empty space and decided it was time to save some trees and use my laptop.
What can you do on Outlook?
Calendar - The first thing I did was ditch the diary and put all my entries into the Outlook Calendar. You can view the calendar by month, week and day which is useful as I can see what is coming up in the next month. The daily calendar has 30 minute time slots so it is very useful for work appointments, if you are using it in a work environment with networked computers, you can make your calendar public so colleagues can see when you are on holiday, in a meeting or out of the office.
Contacts - Another really useful thing for work and home. I've put all of my contacts here as I have seen so many friends phones mysteriously wiping all of their contacts recently and it is such a pain to get them back. For each contact you can add a name, job title, company, addresses (business and home), several phone numbers (mobile, business, home and fax), email addresses, web pages, birthdays and much more.
Tasks - A feature I am using this minute, to write this review. You will have a subject box for your task, you can add a due date, status (started, completed or waiting on someone else), a priority level, reminder and even how many hours of work are spent on each task. For the task you can share the tasks with your contacts if you are using it at work. They will be able to see what tasks are to do and their progress and if they are needed to help with the task. I only use this at home now so my tasks usually consist of phoning some utility company etc. I also use it to write draft reviews offline and I can then save them or copy and paste them when required. It's handy as sometimes I might have a couple of things to review but no time to write them so I just put a subject and write it later on.
Notes - Notes can be anything you liks, on the screen they look like a small yellow post it note. These are for brief notes as they are so smallbut useful all the same. I use my notes for short recipes so if ever my boyfriend gets the urge to bake some bread it doesn't take 20 phone calls he can just look at the note (still waiting for that one)!
On outlook you can also send SMS and Email with all the usual functions you would except such as the ability to add attachments and flag emails for attention.
Each morning when I open Outlook I have a home page called 'Outlook Today' which will show me any messages I have received, any items in my calendar this week and any tasks I have without me having to go into each category.
Outlook is a fantastic programme which is definitely aimed at workplace environments. For offices, it is making communication between colleagues so easy with the ability to share contacts, tasks and messages. It is so easy to navigate and figure out, there is plenty of help on it if you can't find what you are looking for and once you've used it a few times it is so simple to use. It isn't something I thought I would use a lot at home but it has made my life that bit more organised and got rid of some paper clutter! I use it every day and think it's excellent.
Microsoft Office is the benchmark office and home productivity program. At times it can seem like a huge disadvantage when you don't have it as files beome tricky to open and you get left behind if you don't have the latest one.
This is pretty much an updated version of Office 2007. If you have had MS Office 2010 during the Beta rlease you will already know how good it is.
This is the complete office package and includes Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Powerpoint, Microsoft Word, Microsoft OneNote. Its a great pack and although you will generally only use one or two of them the majority of time, its nice to know that you have the complete office set.
There are a huge number of fuctions on offer here to help you at work or at home use and includes all the things you have come to expect. The ribbon system is now much more functional and second nature to use after the mass overhaul that was Office 2007.
Those of you with 2007 shouldn't be rushing out to buy this, as most of the new features arn't really those that warrant an immediate upgrade. If you don't have 2007 then now is the time to upgrade as soon as possible - as this will soon be the standard office suite in every school and workplace.
This is one of the downsides to office in my opion as its practically forced on you. I like office but there are some decent (and free) alternatives out there which do the same job for less.
No sooner have we got used to one Microsoft Office version, when a new one appears on the scene. As soon as it does, the computer experts are out complaining about it, listing all its bugs and inaccuracies; but, for most of us ordinary users, these things don't really matter.
I was initially sceptical about upgrading to Microsoft Office 2010. My computer was still running the 2003 version, and so it was going to be a big jump up. I was glad I did though, as it's been excellent.
This version includes Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook. All four programs contain all the features they always did, so, in my view, we haven't lost anything. There are literally hundreds of new features, all far too numerous to list here, but for a snapshot of some useful updates...
1. When selecting a font in Microsoft Word, as you hover over your chosen font, it automatically changes your text so you can preview what it will look like;
2. The software allows you to recover files you forgot to save, as it backs up what you're working on, even when you haven't saved;
3. When resizing pictures, as you drag the corners, it leaves a ghost impression of the original size on the screen, which disappears when you release the corners;
4. The Calendar in Outlook is now much more streamlined, and user-friendly; excellent for synchronising with iPhone;
5. In Outlook, you can now view lists of contacts in various different views, including 'Business Card' view (I think this was available in a previous version, but they didn't really look like business cards!).
6. When adding a new e-mail account in Outlook, by entering the e-mail address and password, it automatically connects to the internet to retrieve the necessary information.
These are just a tiny snapshot of what's on offer; useful additions and modifications which particularly caught my eye.
As has always been the case, the software is quite slow to install (about 30 minutes in total for me), but you can leave it alone while it does this. It's much easier than previous versions because you don't have to manually register the product; all this is done automatically.
This software is an enormous improvement in previous versions, which in comparison, look so out of date! Highly recommended!
A MAJOR & SERIOUS UPGRADE:
Before going into the review proper I would like to make an observation which might sound intriguing and stupid to most people but honestly, how many are there, who use the Office suit (any version) on regular basis are accustomed to it so that they can get most out of it? I am sure the answer is very few. One of the reasons being till Ms. Office 2007, it was simple stuff. But very few know (please note this is my personal experience) being well versed in Office Suit is something and being capable of using it to its potential is something else. What I mean is if you know the correct options, things can be done in double quick time and that too neatly, giving your creations a real pro look. To be very honest, spending 12-14 hours in front of my computer I hardly use 75% of what Ms.Office suite has to offer and quite sure this applies to most.
WHY MS SUITE 2010 FOR HOME AND BUSINESS:
Before taking a look at its highs let me explore its system requirements which is quite demanding compared to its previous versions. To my mind anybody going for 2010 version of the Office Suite must first look into what he/she essentially requires to have Ms Office 2010 for Home and students installed in the machine. There is no problem for those who has a latest version of a laptop or desktop, else please go through the system requirements of the latest upgrade of the Office suite.
First and foremost, this version of the Office Suite requires at least SP3 (32-bit)of Windows XP. Compared to SP2, SP3 is exceeding resource hungry. You'll need at the very least a 500MHz processor or higher, 256MB of RAM (512MB recommended to use more advanced features). It runs fine with both Windows 7 and Windows XP. As with most Office Suite the installation is simple and will take up to at most 12 minutes of your time.
It will be worthwhile to mention that when installing this version of the Office Suite (or any version for that matter) take care go for the 'Customize' option. This gives you the opportunity to get full functionality of the Suite. Although recommended for 'Advance Users' this option hardly requires great understanding computer science. While running setup you can customize your office suite, meaning you can have all the features with full functionality or put some of off.
IN CASE IT INTERESTS YOU:
Double click on the set up icon. Put in the key, click on 'Custom' installation. From the ensuing option dialogue box click on the box on left hand side of the feature you require (like Word), there are four options on the drop down menu, click on the second option (Run all from my computer). This ensures that all the features of Word is installed on the system. This is especially important for this version.
To put of any feature (saving you hard disk space) click on "This feature is not available" immediately you get it crossed (red) meaning the set up will not install that feature at all. What I mean to say is that it not essential that you have to install all the features. You might have just Word and Excell installed others not being available, this is what customization means, get what you want and rest remains on the CD, feel free to have them later.
LET US EXAMINE THE ADDITIONS, UPDATES OR UPGRADES
There are minor additions here as far as 'word processing' is concerned, but pots of innovations on the image editing issue.
* 1) Artistic Effect
* 2) Exceedingly powerful Remove Background feature.
Some of these Photoshop features have been very intelligently assimilated. Both these feature require lot of 'getting used' or practice but once you get the hang of it, they are just as good. I must say the 'Remove Background' tool is a real nifty stuff, immensely useful to add or remove parts of the background when it is the issue as far as the feel and look of the document is concerned.
One of the most wonderful feature of MS SUITE 2010 FOR HOME AND STUDENTS is its compatibility to edit documents in collaboration, fantastic functionality in Word and PowerPoint. But of course you have to have them stored in Windows Live SkyDrive, I'll take this up later in a bit more detail.
There are tons of new cheeky statistical, mathematical and financial functions, for those maths savvy geeks they are real cool upgrades. Sparkline, for examples, is one of those which stands out over other upgrades in Excel 2010. They are mini graphs that lets you see trends over a series of values, no need for strenuous hunting around a trend line on a larger excel chart, Excel 2010 shows the trend for a range of values in an adjacent cell, one glance and you know where you are heading to. Slicers are the others of some notable upgrades, you could not enjoy more the Pivot Tables and charts to visualize data.
The image editing tools are exceptional but the headline must be granted to the video editing tools. You can edit videos, add effects and don't forget you can jolly well stop searching the net for a PowerPoint to Flash (.flv) converter to upload your presentations with audio added to sites like Youtube. Even embedding web videos in your slides from these sites are so simple, giving a real pro-look with basic editing capabilities.
Another fab upgrade is the 'Broadcast Slide Show' option. Most of us would love it. One does not require a dedicated web-conferencing infrastructure, just choose 'Broadcast Slide Show' from Share & Send option of PowerPoint, you get URL. Just e-mail the URL to one of your targets. They will just have to open their browser and copy/paste the URL or just click the URL, more often than not the web-browser opens on its own. Even you can just try the broadcast on your mobile provided the GPRS connection is fast enough else don't.
There are pots of innovations here. The new Conversation View with at least two cool features (a) Clean Up and (b) Ignore. Clean Up looks through the entire conversation, deleting redundant and useless massages within massages. In case you are tired of long conversation just click 'Ignore', immediately it moves all future massages from that conversation automatically to the 'Deleted Items' folder.
It was an absolute necessity for Outlook 2010 to makes things attractive with new features to remain in competition, since Google's online Gmail search tools offering so much of options, probably Outlook 2010 has its way with the new Conversation View as it lets one group thread together conversations so they can be viewed in one place. With the Quick Steps option macros can be created for common every-day tasks. Forwarding specific e-mails to third parties couldn't be easier. Both Conversation View and Quick Steps may not be apparently intuitive but once the 'getting used to' process is over it will save enormous amount time spent for processing e-mails in future.
Businessmen are well advised to use Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 or Microsoft Windows SharePint Services for that matter for collaborating on projects, not that private users can not access their work. Private users can always have an access provided they use Windows Live and Web apps on SkyDrive.
Word 2010 and PowerPoint 2010 have a wonderful syncing mechanism to avoid sudden and abrupt changes while working on a project. Word, for example, locks the paragraph that one person is editing will show you a contact card from them so that you can chat/mail with them through Windows Messenger.
I have worked with Google Docs, it's extremely easy to share word docs or excel sheets with other users, and though not as sophisticated, One Note as it had been offered in this suite may not enough of an option.
It's a cloud based storage system with a good 25GB of space for docs so that it can be accessed from anywhere. Simply get a Windows Live ID, log in and start managing Word, Excel sheets, PowerPoint presentations if not more. Save to SkyDrive is the new file menu capability of this version. They all can be edited using feature-complete Web apps through SkyDrive.
Another upgrade that must be mention is the paste view. It's accepted that Office suite always remembered to 12 cuts or paste on the clipboard but you had remember the order to use them. But now Paste View shows how they will look like when pasted. It is consistent across most of the applications in Office 2010.
It an enhanced replacement for the File menu, Backstage view brings related, but separate tasks into one page for easy access. It is probably the most significant of changes to Microsoft Office Suite.
VALUE FOR MONEY:
Office Home & Students is priced at £68.80 and Office Home & Business (FPP) at £151.50. No doubt pricey but worth, at least to my mind.
Full trial version:
https://www7.buyoffice.microsoft.com/asia/shopperinfo2.aspx? cache=1890234328& culture=en-GB&wa=wsignin1.0
**Also on other sites under the same user name.