Office 2010 LogoThe latest version of Microsoft Office came out last month and since then we've been fiddling, playing, testing, and tweaking to learn all we can about the 2010 version of the popular office productivity suite. For many organizations, it's the standard-bearer software that lives on nearly every computer and is used daily by millions, so we think it's pretty important to have a good handle on how to answer the seminal question asked by resource-strapped libraries and nonprofits ' "Should we bother upgrading?"

Now we can't definitively answer that for you, since it depends on a number of variables, but here are some resources to help you decide, and some fun new features ' ones we think might be of particular interest to nonprofits and libraries because they can help you work more efficiently, save you money, provide greater collaboration, or just entertain.

Office 2010 Webinar ScreenshotIn addition, we're conducting we just conducted a webinar with Microsoft to go over some of these features in more detail and have posted the recording here so you can learn more, join the already-going-strong conversation, and have your questions answered to help you decide whether it's worthwhile to make the switch.

Check out the full recording here (download to your computer to view) and see what Microsoft had to say about the event, as well as their great resource pages full of links to help you research, dig, play, and get started if you want to move to Office 2010 (or want to just optimize your usage if you've already got it!)

First, the Basics

Eligible nonprofits and libraries can request donated Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 or Microsoft Office Standard 2010 for a small admin fee and when requesting media at checkout, you can get versions for either 32-bit or 64-bit systems. Note: If you've received a donated version of Microsoft Office through TechSoup in the past two years, your Software Assurance may entitle you to upgrade through Microsoft's Volume Licensing Service Center for no cost.

What are the differences? I've included this simple and handy chart that lists the programs included with each:

Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010
Microsoft Office Standard 2010
Access 2010Excel 2010
Office Communicator 2007 R2OneNote 2010
Excel 2010Outlook 2010
InfoPath 2010PowerPoint 2010
OneNote 2010Publisher 2010
Outlook 2010 with Business Contact ManagerWord 2010
PowerPoint 2010 
Publisher 2010 
SharePoint Workspace 2010
Word 2010 










Cool New Features

1. Office Web Apps allows for online document sharing and collaboration. There's a free web-only version available to everyone, but it has limited functions and doesn't work across all types of docs. However, if you have either version of Office 2010 software installed on your desktop, a broader array of online collaboration, document storage, co-authoring, revisioning, and sharing is available to you at no cost. This is especially helpful if you frequently need to share work across a distance ' whether you have staff who work from home, need to share documents with other branches or chapters, or have board members or volunteers who contribute to your documents remotely. 

2. Improvements to the Ribbon Interface allow you to customize the menus and toolbars you see across the page in any program you're using. If you've used the Ribbon in Office 2007, the interface will be very familiar to you, but now you can find it across all of the programs in Office 2010. Another bonus is that there's a greater level of customizability available to let you decide what you want to see ' and to keep functions you frequent right at your fingertips to save you time and make work more efficient.

3. The built-in photo and video editing features within Word and PowerPoint offer greatly expanded ability to shine up your documents and presentations without having to go to a third-party editing tool. You can embed and edit videos within PowerPoint and tweak your materials for sharper and more professional looking images without having to buy something else. Though the functions aren't as robust of professional-grade photo or video editing tools on the market, they will suffice for many projects.

4. Social Connector allows you to automatically sync your Outlook contacts with your social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and MySpace. Some of the features are still in Beta, but once fully available, anytime a contact in your Outlook address book updates their profile on one of these sites, you'll automatically have their up-to-date contact information in your address book.

5. Broadcast PowerPoint will allow you to broadcast your presentations to anyone via web browser or smartphone. This is an easy alternative to setting up a web conference for remote staff meetings. You can also "Export to Video," which will automatically convert your presentation into a video that you can burn to a DVD or upload to a video-sharing site like YouTube.

What are your favorite features? Have you installed it at your office yet? Share your stories and experiences with Microsoft Office 2010 in this active thread in our forums.

Additional Resources:

Check out the full Microsoft Office 2010 resource page for more details and information on the new products. I've included a few links below to help you decide which software options may work best for you.

Want to learn more about the Microsoft software donation program or other resources available to nonprofits? Check out their site for nonprofits to see all of their resources to help nonprofits use technology. There are also some great training and user readiness materials available from Microsoft at the following sites:

Becky Wiegand is the Webinar Program Manager at
@bajeckabean on Twitter