© 2011 by Nick B. Nicholaou, all rights reserved President, Ministry Business Services, Inc. Reprinted from Christian Computing Magazine
Microsoft released two versions of their Office Suite last year, and folks want to know if it’s worth upgrading to them. The bottom line is, yes! On either platform! Here are a few reasons why.
Office 2010 for Windows
Microsoft first introduced us to their ribbon concept in Office 2007, replacing the familiar pull-down menu bar options with a series of tabs across the top of the application window. Most I know did not like the change, but Microsoft said that focus group studies found that most people really liked it. I have spoken with a few thousand church and ministry computer users since Office 2007’s release, and in my unscientific study I found that 10-15% liked the ribbon, the rest did not.
Well, as we often say, software changes don’t need to be better, they just need to be different! And the ribbon was different! But Microsoft had begun traveling down a road they were unlikely to return from, so we were stuck with it.
In Office 2010 some of the good news is that the ribbon is greatly improved and much more usable, intuitive, and it is customizable! I think Office users will like it much more than the 2007 ribbon— maybe this is the ribbon those focus groups reacted so positively to in the first place! lol
Another across-the-board improvement of Office 2010 is that it fully supports 64-bit operating systems.
Here are a few more specifics:
- Word. Many are pleased with the new paste preview feature because it saves them having to paste and then undo the paste. The keystroke to undo is so easy (Ctrl + z) that using it never bothered me, but the preview is helpful for many.
- Excel. Graphs and formatting tools have been greatly enhanced and improved. Power users who work with pivot tables will love the free downloadable PowerPivot tool for Excel 2010 that calculates tons of data from multiple sources very fast!
- PowerPoint. There are new transitions and the ability to trigger/ control videos in slide presentations. You can even edit videos directly in PowerPoint!
- Outlook. Outlook now supports multiple email addresses in one profile, making sending and receiving from multiple accounts easy. This is especially helpful for those working for churches and ministries with multiple domains. Outlook 2010 also has great calendar improvements, especially regarding emailed appointments.
Office 2011 for Mac
Office 2011 also has the ribbon, and thankfully it is more akin to the Office 2010 ribbon than 2007 ribbon. In most respects, Office 2011 for Mac is equivalent to Office 2010 for Windows, so the items mentioned above also apply here.
- Word. Many ask where Publisher is in Office 2011. It’s one of the views in Word— the publishing layout view! One caution, however, is that you cannot open a Publisher (*.pub) file on the Mac; you need to open Publisher files on a Windows computer and save them as Word documents.
- Excel. Excel 2011 has been improved greatly from its 2008 predecessor. The formula functions have been expanded as has the overall usability.
- PowerPoint. PowerPoint 2011 is greatly improved over PowerPoint 2008. The ability to incorporate graphics and videos is much stronger, including the ability to edit them from within PowerPoint.
- Outlook. Outlook 2010 replaced Entourage 2008 as the Microsoft Office email, task, and calendar management platform. Like it’s older Windows brother, it provides most of the functionality and features running in Office for Windows’ Outlook. Email, task, and calendar files now fully integrate with Exchange 2010. They also fully integrate with iPads, iPhones, Androids, etc. There are a few things we hope to see in the next release of Outlook for Mac, but the overall review is that this is a solid thumbs up over Entourage.
What About Open Office?
Many are quick to say that you can do a lot of what can be done in Microsoft Office in a free open source office suite called Open Office. While that is true, we have rarely seen Open Office successfully replace Microsoft Office in a church or ministry office. Users just don’t like working with it as much.
Open Office’s biggest benefit is the amount you can save purchasing licenses— but that’s minimized when comparing it with Microsoft’s charity licensing. The cost to buy Microsoft Office 2010 or 2011 from Consistent Computer Bargains (www.ccbnonprofits.com) is only $80 (2010 for Windows) or $60 (2011 for Mac). At that low price, the cost difference is low— especially when considering the additional features offered by Microsoft Office over Open Office. (BTW… there is no upgrade price for charity licensing since Microsoft has already discounted the cost so significantly.)
One of the additional benefits of using Microsoft Office is that it is already known by many users, which reduces training time and costs.
What About Training?
We have found the best training resource to be Lynda.com (www.lynda.com). They have more than 1,000 training courses on most shrink-wrapped software as well as many office functions, like bookkeeping, etc, and the cost is very reasonable.
Our experience in upgrading church and ministry teams from Office 2003 or Office 2007 to Office 2010 has been very positive. Our experience upgrading Mac users from Office 2004 or Office 2008 to Office 2011 has been enthusiastic! These new releases are definitely worth considering.