Having trouble wrapping your head around Microsoft's Office 2010 suite? Before you plunk down a wad of cash at your local bookstore for an instructional book, give Microsoft's free materials a try.
Novices will want to start with First Look: Microsoft Office 2010, a 186-page ebook in PDF format. This one goes over the changes introduced in Office 2010 and covers each of the apps.
For those will a little more experience under their belt, Getting Started with Microsoft Office 2010 offers a bit more meat for IT types. This one is available in Word, PDF, and XPS formats, and checks in at 259 pages.
Microsoft earlier this week launched its certification program for its Office 2010 productivity suite, providing would-be Office gurus with three levels of mastery. These include Specialist, Expert, and Master.
According to Lutz Ziob, general manager of Microsoft Learning., this year's MOS program was designed to highlight mobility in Microsoft apps.
"Office 2010 frees users from one computer, or even one type of access device," Ziob explains. "Through Office 2010 you can access your documents through either your smartphone or PC."
Microsoft says its MOS certification program is now in its 10th year and offered in over 140 countries.
Mary Jo Foley over at ZDNet is pleading with readers to do their homework before jumping on the Office 2010 Starter bandwagon, and with good reason. Microsoft's Office 2010 productivity software goes on sale tomorrow and while it's true that the ad-supported Starter edition will be free, you might be getting less than you bargained for.
It's hard to argue with free, but it's worth noting that Microsoft gutted the Starter edition to only include basic document viewing and editing of Word and Excel. The goal is not to give Office away, but to entice users to upgrade, which some point out sounds a lot like trialware.
"Incorrect messaging of Office Starter 2010 may discourage your customers from purchasing a full Office suite and could also lead to customer dissatisfaction and confusion," Microsoft wrote in a note to its OEM partners. "Market research shows that many people confused Office Starter 2010 with a full Office suite, and were then dissatisfied because they believed they had received a full Office suite."
Forget about that paltry 30-day window you have to activate your copy of Office 2010, because if you want to, you can extend the trial for up to six months, Microsoft recently confirmed on its TechNet site. Here's how you do it:
Make sure all office 2010 applications are closed
Open an elevated command prompt (Click Start, type CMD, right-click cmd.exe and select Run as administrator)
Go to %installdir%\%Program Files%\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\OfficeSoftwareProtectionPlatform. If you installed the 32-bit edition of Office 2010 on a 64-bit operating system, %Program Files% is the Program Files (x86) folder.
The above rearm trick can be used up to five times, and if used at the tail-end of each 30-day grace period, you can run Office 2010 for up to 180 days without inputting an activation key. The rearm feature is primarily aimed at enterprise admins using a single copy or image to deploy a supported OS and accompanying software on hundreds of PCs, but anyone can use the trick.
As an alternative to the above steps, IntoWindows.com has made available a handy Office 2010 Trial Extender Tool that does the same thing with the click of a button. You can download the tool here.
Not a whole lot is being planned for this month's Patch Tuesday, just a couple of relatively low-key updates to Windows and Office, Microsoft says. According to at least one security researcher, this is on par with Microsoft's modus operandi.
"It's the predictable off month for Microsoft," said Andrew Storms, the director of security operations with nCircle Security. "That's all within the predictable pattern they've created."
Storms says Microsoft frequently alternates large and small sized updates, and since the software maker issued some 11 security updates in April to fix 25 flaws, it's no surprise that this month is much less ambitious.
The single security fix for this Tuesday is considered "critical" for Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Server 2003, and Server 2008, and "important" for Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2.
"Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 customers will be offered the Windows-related update but they are not vulnerable in their default configurations," said Jerry Bryant, a security program manager, in an entry on the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) blog.
In a blog post on Friday, Microsoft announced it has reached the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) milestone for the next version of Office, which includes Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, Visio 2010, and Project 2010.
"RTM is the final engineering milestone of a product release and our engineering team has poured their heart and soul into reaching this milestone," said Takeshi Numoto, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Office. "It is also an appropriate time to re-emphasize our sincere gratitude to the more than 5,000 organizations and partners who have worked with us on rapid deployment and testing of the products."
Numoto went on to say that over 7.5 million people have downloaded the beta version since it went public in November 2009, which is more than 3 times the number of 2007 beta downloads.
Office 2010 will land in retail stores in June, though U.S. customers can already place preorders through the Microsoft Store. Pricing has been set to $150 for Home and Student, $280 for Home and Business, and $500 for Professional.
More bad news for Microsoft, who again was found guilty of willfully infringing on i4i's patents, this time by the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals.
Microsoft is quickly running out of avenues. This latest verdict is the second time an appeals court affirmed i4i's patent win, which requires Redmond to fork over more than $240 million in damages, as well as remove a feature in versions of Microsoft Word 2007 that lets people create custom XML documents.
"A reasonable jury could have concluded that Microsoft 'willfully' infringed the 449 patents based on the evidence present at the trial," the judges wrote. "Similarly, there is no evidence Microsoft ever made a good faith effort to avoid infringement, internal emails show Microsoft intended to render i4i's product 'obsolete' and assure 'there won't be a need for [i4i's] product.'"
So is it time to throw in the towel? Not quite. According to InfoWorld.com, the panel will now circulate the document to the rest of the judges on the appeals court, who will then decide whether honor Microsoft's request for an en banc review. If the request is approved, all 12 appeals court judges will reconsider the case.
"From our perspective, there are only so many more avenues for appeals for them," said Loudon Owen, chairman of i4i.
Good news for business owners chomping on the bit for Microsoft Office 2010. Come May 12, Microsoft will begin selling the full version of its upcoming productivity suite to businesses, about a month before the general public will be able to get their hands on a copy.
"For businesses, we will launch the 2010 set of products, including Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, Visio 2010, and Project 2010 worldwide on May 12," Jefon Fark, senior marketing manager for Microsoft Office, wrote in a blog post. "For consumers, Office 2010 will be available online and on retail shelves this June. Until then, you can get the Office 2010 beta."
All of the above mentioned products are on schedule to be RTM (released to manufacturing) in April, eWeek reports. And for those participating in Microsoft's Office 2010 Technology Guarantee, the blog outlines eligibility requirements, which entails purchasing and activating either Office 2007, or a new PC with Office 2007, between March 5 and September 30; either have or create a Windows Live ID; and redeem the actual guarantee right here.
Listen up Office users, Microsoft has made available a free tool to help you level up your productivity skills. It's called Ribbon Hero and it offers up different 'games' or challenges for Word, PowerPoint, and Excel 2007 and 2010.
"Ribbon Hero watches what features you do and don't use, and then it recommend challenges for you to play, to hopefully expose you to new features," Microsoft writes in an Office blog. "The first time you complete a challenge, you'll earn points. But then we want you to use those same features in the app (on another day) to prove you've mastered those features! You can max out a feature using it twice, on two separate days -- and one one of those times can you get points from playing the challenge."
Ribbon Hero also serves up Facebook integration so you can spam your friends' walls with PowerPoint updates right next to your latest Farmville achievement. Oh joy.
You know Adobe's portable document format: PDF. It's everywhere, from downloadable documentation for a motherboard you need to tweak to press releases from the assemblyman from Lower Someplace, PDFs rule. Why? It's not hard to understand:
PDF files are supported by computers and mobile devices, including smartphones; comparable formats such as Microsoft's XPS don't enjoy nearly as wide a level of support
PDF files are cross-platform, enabling you to create a PDF on a PC and read it on any other device with PDF support
PDF documents can be optimized for web display, eBook readers, PC printing, and high-resolution professional printing
Add up these reasons, and it's easy to see why PDF make sense if you need to distribute a document that can be read everywhere.
Although Adobe sets the standards for PDF files with its Acrobat PDF creation and Reader PDF display software, Adobe isn't the only game in town when it comes to PDF creation. In this article, you'll discover if your system is already ready to spit out a PDF on demand, how to add PDF output to your system, and how to track down free tools that enable you to perform some PDF editing.