PROS / Microsoft Office is the most widely used and supported office software.
CONS / Microsoft does not support other office software programs.
VERDICT / Microsoft Office is the best home office software out there.
The footprints of Microsoft’s software empire are visible in nearly every aspect of our lives—from Windows on our desktop computers to Netflix on our Xbox 360 consoles to Bill Gates on our televisions. This product represents one of Microsoft’s most ubiquitous and widely used programs in the world. You’d have to have been living in a cave for the last two decades to have avoided writing a document or two on Microsoft Word or compiling a budget on Excel. After comparing Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010 to other leading home office software suites we can understand why it’s so popular. Microsoft’s home user and student focused edition of home office software is the most reliable and feature rich productivity suite we reviewed; and winner of our TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award.
Word Processing Features
Microsoft Office Home and Student has many wonderful features, many of which are used on a daily basis. The most common of these features is the Microsoft Word program. With its worldwide fame, Word does not need an introduction to tell what it is about—the word processor is running in offices, homes, small businesses and dorm rooms all over the globe.
Now Microsoft has taken one of their top programs and made it better with Microsoft Office 2010. Word has been retooled and equipped with new features for the Office 2010 suite. Its interface has been reorganized to be more intuitive and includes useful tools for specific document styles such as letters, academic papers, blogs, etc.
In contrast to other home office software word processors; Word’s interface is much more dynamic. The program responds to the look and structure of your document and suggests actions you are likely to need. For example, if you click on the bottom or top margin of the page, you’ll see an option to insert a header or footer pop up. Microsoft Word also has a preview mode running in real time so you can see what formatting changes will look like before you commit to them.
One of the most impressive extras included with Microsoft Word is the vast archive of templates available for download directly through Word itself. You can find hundreds of templates for professional grade resumes, cover letters, budget sheets, attendance sheets and just about any other useful document type imaginable.
Microsoft Office Home and Student also includes the well-known spreadsheet and presentation programs; Excel and PowerPoint. Excel and PowerPoint round out the home office software suite by adding more advanced productivity tools. Excel 2010 is capable of advanced operations typical of the chemistry lab or physics lecture hall. With the 2010 version, it is easier than ever to set up your spreadsheets exactly how you want them.
PowerPoint is increasingly used by lecturers and employers to distribute materials. It is the top of the line presentation software. PowerPoint gives you the best features to make your slideshow presentation both educational and entertaining.
With each program of Microsoft Office, a list of useful template and image downloads are included. You can even import pictures of your own to your Word doc, PowerPoint presentation, or Excel spreadsheet.
One drawback to the Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010 edition is that it does not include the email client Outlook. However, this program is typically not necessary for home or student use anyway. Instead, this version offers a useful note taking program called OneNote. OneNote is a generic application that allows you to store and organize useful information of a few different types. You can catalogue text, images, video, audio, links and common files for later retrieval and use with OneNote. Students will be particularly fond of OneNote.
Switching documents between Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010 does not support many third party home office software formats. This is particularly a concern with the increasingly popular OpenOffice format. We can understand the commercial motives for not supporting open source and competing file formats, but find it inconvenient none-the-less. Despite its comparative lack of support for other widely used formats, most users don’t typically deal with other formats for spreadsheets, documents and presentations. The fact that Microsoft has a near monopoly with its DOC, XLS and PPS file formats ultimately means that you won’t have to think about formats much at all. In the event that you need to open and edit items that Microsoft Office does not support, there are free, light weight converters available online.
We like working with Microsoft Office 2010 applications simply because there is no hassle opening, editing and saving documents and spreadsheets. The one possible hitch concerns the updated Office 2010 file formats. If you’re sending 2010 formats (DOCX, XLSX, PPSX, etc.) to users that only have Microsoft Office 2003 they’re likely to encounter errors and difficulty. In general, this is a minor concern as Office 2010 formats saturate the market.
It’s not hard to find complaints about Microsoft’s customer support, but in reality we were impressed with their support staff. There’s really not much reason to contact help staff directly however, because Microsoft Office’s online community and library of FAQs, forums and documentation address every conceivable technical, licensing and user issue. While Microsoft’s support resources are vast and thorough, the fact that updates, add-ons and support often require a Windows Live account can be irritating to new users.
Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010 is a substantial improvement over the 2003 and 2007 editions. It’s also a great standalone product. We love the interface, templates and usability of the retooled Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The price runs higher than competing office software suites, but given the omnipresence of Microsoft Office, superior functionality and solid customer support included with a purchase, we had no difficulty selecting the renowned set of programs for our top position.