Virtually synonymous with desktop productivity tools, Microsoft Office is not just the market leader, it’s the one product that nearly every user has on their computer. The creation of documents, spreadsheets and simple databases are part and parcel of a day’s work. Word, Excel and Powerpoint are the most well known Microsoft software programs among students on all levels. This is because all throughout school this is what is used to write papers, do projects and learn how to do spreadsheets.
For those with very basic needs there is Open Office. It is completely free, and supports Office formats (although not perfectly) so most of the time there are few issues with compatibility and not as user friendly however. It’s free and worthy of consideration. For many I’m sure that it’s good enough, and low-end users should think hard about their needs, but Open Office just does not rise to the level of Office 2010.
You could try using the online suites – Google Docs will let you edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations online. Microsoft too provides an online Office Web Apps companions to Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote to access, view, and edit documents directly from a browser.
But any online suite option assumes you have an Internet connection – when traveling that’s not always the case or the price of connection is too high. We prefer to be able to use the computer anytime and not be reliant on an internet connection. That leads us to consider the office suite software options.
If you’re switching between a desktop and portable computer, it’s easier if you’re running the same software on both machines, or at least similar versions of the same software. This is why most people would prefer to run some form of Microsoft Office on all their machines.
The good news is that Microsoft Office 2010 runs on netbooks and the latest generation of netbooks comes with a free 60-day trial of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010 Edition pre-installed, which means you can have access to this software with your netbook purchase.
What is new in Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Student Edition
Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010 comes with Word 2010, Excel 2010, Powerpoint 2010 and OneNote 2010, and contains powerful writing tools that will help you to increase your productivity. Excel 2010 has been improved to include easy to analyze spreadsheets allowing the user to make quicker decisions. With Powerpoint 2010, the user has the ability to make outstanding presentations to grab audiences attention.
In Office 2010, the Ribbon tabs can be customized or replaced with your own custom tabs. Through the Options menu in the Backstage view, you can easily create new tabs that bring together your favorite commands and groups. Existing tabs can also be customized to fit your needs.
In many ways the new ribbon interface has many features which make it ideal for netbooks.You can minimize and restore the entire ribbon when needed. The entire ribbon disappears leaving just the tabs and the Quick Access Toolbar. Once minimized the ribbon will appear when needed then disappear again.
Microsoft Office 2010 copes more elegantly with variable screen widths as the ribbon ‘collapses’ into smaller chunks depending on the width of the window.
System Requirements for Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010
- 500 MHz processor is the minimum requirement
- 2 GHz processor or faster is recommended for certain features
- 256 MB RAM minimum
- 1 GB RAM or more recommended for OneNote Audio Search. Grammar and contextual spelling features also require 1 GB memory
- 3.0 GB available disk space
- Screen resolution: minimum 800×600 pixels, 1024×768 or higher recommended
Operating System Requirements
- Windows 7 (32 bit and 64 bit)
- Windows Vista with SP1 (32 bit and 64 bit)
- Windows XP (must have SP3) (32-bit)
Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Student Edition Pricing
Many netbook users typically spend just a few hundred dollars on a netbook and are reluctant to spend big money on productivity software. Microsoft has accommodated netbooks users in the latest release of Office 2010 by launching a Product Key Card version at $119.99.
A Product Key Card provides another way to purchase Microsoft Office 2010. It includes a 25-character Product Key designed to activate Office software pre-installed on your machine. This Product Key Card is intended to be purchased with a new PC only and includes the following features;
- Includes 25-character Product Key only, no disc.
- Designed to activate Office on 1 computer preloaded with Office 2010 suites. For a limited time, customers buying a computer without Office 2010 preloaded, can download the software at www.office.com/productkeycard.
- Licensed for 1 install on single computer only.
- License cannot be transferred to another computer.
- Download backup available at www.office.com/productkeycard.
Alternatively, you can buy a boxed copy version of office 2010 from a local or online retailer. This version of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010 includes the software on disc, with a product key. It is licensed for installation on three PCs in the same household and costs $149.99
User Concerns on Using Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Student Edition on Netbooks
In our discussions with netbook users three questions were frequently asked;
- Can Microsoft Office 2010 run efficiently on a netbook which typically has a relatively slower processor and limited memory than a standard notebook?
- Can the Software display effectively on the smaller screen resolution?
- My netbook does not come with an Optical drive and how can I install it?
In order to assess the performance of Office 2010 on a netbook, you do need to take into account the capacity and technical specification of your netbook. Netbooks installed with Win XP SP 3 and Win 7 easily meet the Office 2010 requirements and will have enough CPU power to handle your needs.
Microsoft office 2010 has a minimum screen resolution requirement of 800×600 pixels and the recommended resolution is 1024×768 or higher. Most netbooks which come with a resolution of 1024×600 have an acceptable width, but the screen height is less than the recommended. That does NOT mean you can’t use Office 2010 on a netbook. You can easily tweak you settings to show more document area on the screen – you can set the entire ribbon to disappear leaving just the tabs and the Quick Access Toolbar.
For consumers who purchase a new PC, Microsoft works with major PC manufacturers to install 60-day trial software that can be activated with a Product Key Card. If you purchased at retail box or have a DVD that you bought for you main PC – A standard license for Office lets you install it on two computers, one desktop and one portable device to be used by one person (The Home and Student edition can be installed on three computers) then you need to get an optical drive.
There are plenty of cheap USB CD/DVD drives available which you can buy to plug into your netbook. You can also copy the install files from the DVD to a USB thumb drive. During installation microsoft will install the installation file in hidden folder in the drive to facilitate restoring from source to repair office without a need to install from DVD media again.
When conducting our research into Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Student Edition we looked at multiple shopping sites where users leave reviews so that we could get feedback from people that have purchased and used the software. We found 40 reviews for Microsoft Office Home & Student 2010 Product Key Card version with the average user rating of 2.5 out of 5 stars. While the average user rating for Microsoft Office 2010 Home & Student (Disc Version) is 4.0 out of 5 stars from 250 reviews – nearly half of the users gave it a 5-star rating!
A large number of reviewers seem to agree that Office 2010 is to Office 2007 what Windows 7 was to Vista; that is, there are not many breakthrough, drastically different features, but a whole lot of polishing and cleanup to make it easier and more efficient. Many also agree that overall, the program seems to run faster, incorporates many of the most commonly used options and makes them more accessible (eliminating many dialog boxes and tabs) and allows for more customization.
A number of reviewers also welcomed the new ribbon interface which is now present in all applications , the inclusion of the file option and the ability to incorporate the most commonly used actions into one place for easier user navigation. The new Backstage View is also viewed as a great addition that really does help simplify document management.
Few reviewers appreciated the extra features such as beefed up picture editing tools enabling drawings and images to be manipulated in the various applications rather than having to use external tools.
The small percentage of people that had negative reviews for the product have two main complaints. The first complaint that some people had was that the user guide did not warn that an upgrade will erase other office stand alone products. Some people reported that it was difficult to set up and expected it to uninstall the old version, it didn’t. They further added that there were no instructions, which would have helped those who are not up to speed.
The biggest complaint however was not the product itself but with the way Microsoft handled their customer service. One reviewer had her phone hanged up when she wanted to file a complaint following an admission by Microsoft of inadequate documentation.
There were a number of complaints that the Product Key Card did not work for them. Many only realized that they have bought the wrong product after calling customer support. The Product Key Card only works for new machine pre-installed with a free 60-day trial of Microsoft Office 2010. If you have downloaded a trial version then the Product Key Card does not work.
Surprisingly a large number of reviewers preferred to purchase the disc version instead of the Product Key Card as it gave a better value with a disc for recovery. The Product Key Card version costs around $100 for each computer and by buying the disc version for about $120, you can use it for up to 3 computers.
There were a small group of reviewers who were disappointed that they could not email the documents as the Home and Student edition did not come with outlook 2010. Again they only found out about the problem after calling customer support. This is what one reviewer had to say “I purchased Office for home and student 2010 product key card, thinking it had all the 7 programs, and did not notice the very very fine print on the box, difficult to see on the internet display, that indeed, this version comes only with 4 office programs “.
The negative reviews are very typical of any software product and generally can be attributed to users failing to make adequate backups before upgrading. Surprisingly equal number of reviewers commented that “When it comes to upgrading it’s pretty much a no-brainer”. When it comes to software installation most people expect the CD to automatically run when they put it in the CD ROM drive.The most common reason for a piece of software not installing is that another program is interfering with it, such as an anti-virus programs. In any case, even with good documentation, there will always be a small group of people who will always feel challenged and face difficulties not encountered by the majority of users during installation.
Keep in mind that the number of people reporting these types of results were very small. Out of the hundreds of reviews we went through only about 10% of them were negative, fewer than 10% were in the middle with a three star rating and the vast majority, over 85% of the reviews that we researched, give the product a four or five star rating.
Whenever there is a product sold to thousands of people there will be some that have a bad experience but the overwhelming majority of people gave this product glowing reviews. Our research suggests that as with previous versions Office 2010 is no lightweight, with lots of options that the majority of users will ever need. The end result is, despite the various changes, a complex interface and a steep learning curve, especially for users upgrading from versions of Office prior to 2007.
New users will inevitably end up buying Office 2010 in one form or another and, apart from cost and complexity, there are no strong reasons why they shouldn’t. If cost is an issue, however, or you just want basic document editing tools then Open Office or one of the cloud-based alternatives, such as Microsoft Office Web Apps or Google Docs, could be a better choice.
If you know you need Office, though, then Office 2010 is a must-buy. It feels like the work begun in Office 2007 has come to fruition here, producing a highly polished, powerful and fast suite of applications. If you’ve been putting it off because of the drawbacks of Office 2007, now is the time to take a fresh look at what Microsoft 2010 has to offer.
Note : Microsoft has now made available a download version of Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Student Edition that can be installed in 3 computers.