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More great Office 2010 features for business

Serdar Yegulalp | July 1, 2010
Many of the best new features in Office 2010 were designed with mobile users and far-flung work groups in mind

Microsoft also intuited, quite wisely, that most users' ISPs shouldn't be saddled with the burden of distributing the broadcast themselves. To that end, you can transmit the slideshow through Microsoft's own PowerPoint Broadcast Service, which you can freely access as a licensed Office user. You can also use "a broadcast service provided by your organization, hosted on a server that has the Microsoft Office Web Apps installed" (Microsoft's own words). 

The bad news: Not everything carries over faithfully. All slide transitions turn into fades, annotations made on the slide deck will not show up, and audio components to the broadcast (including your own narration) won't be included. You'll still need to get all the participants to dial into whatever voice-conference bridge you've set up. But it's conceivable that those omitted features will eventually be added, perhaps via Silverlight.

Business Contact Manager

The single biggest business feature for Outlook isn't in Outlook itself, but in a complementary product: the newly revamped Business Contact Manager. Available only in the Professional Plus and Standard SKUs of Office 2010, Business Contact Manager is essentially an organizational overlay for Outlook 2010. With it you can classify everything in Outlook into several basic business-oriented categories: sales, marketing, project management, and business records. From those, you can create prioritized workflows -- for example, build a list of the best potential clients to be called, and develop a call log for all those clients as you speak to them -- and see the progress of everything you're doing via a whole slew of included report formats. Microsoft has also provided tools to allow BCM databases to be hosted on remote servers, rather than one's local machine.

Outlook 2010's Business Contact Manager, shown here with preloaded sample data, turns Outlook into a full-fledged CRM while retaining Outlook's familiar interface.

Calendar publishing

It used to be that the only way to get access to someone else's calendar in Outlook was to use Exchange or a third-party add-on to sync calendars with an external service. Outlook 2010 now has a native calendar publishing feature, which allows your calendar to be automatically or manually synchronized with either a WebDAV server of your choice or Microsoft's own Office Online service. You have control over the time span you want to publish (up to 90 days in either direction) and the amount of detail listed for your calendar entries.

Outlook Social Connector

Any contacts you have listed in Outlook can be associated with social networks, with a feed of all such activity associated with that person no more than a click away in most contexts. With social networking fast becoming one of the ways decentralized offices are bound together, it makes sense, but it's rather underdeveloped. The only social networks that work are LinkedIn and MySpace; Facebook and even Microsoft's own Windows Live are "coming soon."


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