After going through one of the largest beta testing for any software, Microsoft Office 2010 has reached its release to manufacturing stage. It won’t be too long before it hits the shelves now with official estimates putting it at June.

After giving the new Office a try we must say it is pretty impressive. The ribbon interface which was introduced in 2007 has been greatly enhanced. Operating on the network surely has been on Microsoft’s mind with improvements in SharePoint support and better integration with Windows Live. Outlook also offers a functionality through which it combines email with social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

Office is now available in the 64 bit version too though we doubt it is going to make much of a difference for a normal user. The ribbon interface as mentioned before has been tweaked in its structuring aspects. Users have increased functionality of adding their own tabs and buttons to the ribbon. A new feature namely Backstage View has been incorporated which shows information of your tasks such as printing, saving and sharing documents. Microsoft has even gone as far as to allow third party add ins in the Backstage zone. The feature which caught us off guard though was the new copy paste functionality. In Office 2010, when you paste anything it shows a paste preview of how it looks. We cannot say it is much of a work reducer but nevertheless it still is a cool feature. There are also some rookie photo editing software added in some of the Office applications.

On the whole there are improvements in each of the Office Applications. For instance, the new Word allows you to work on a document in Backstage mode. There are also features for image editing too. PowerPoint too has been worked upon a lot. You can now share presentations online by broadcasting it. The viewer also does not need PowerPoint to view it, with the presentation being played on their browsers. You can also embed videos from video sharing sites such as Youtube. The ribbon interface now finally also encompasses OneNote.

The biggest addition to the Office suite though is the Office Web Apps. It allows for creating Word files or PowerPoint presentations over the web. You can also add your own slides, pictures and transitions as you wish. Another powerful feature in web apps is Multi user co-authoring. A little tweaking and modifications this new functionality does look like Microsoft’s answer to Google Docs. With the choice of accessing your files from anywhere by storing o them on the Live server sure increases the usability.

Finally we come to the question, Is it worth upgrading? While the user experience of the new Office suite has been greatly enhanced none of the changes are too compelling for a shift. For the people still stuck on Office 2003 we do recommend an upgrade while for those on Office 2007, stick with it unless you are just crazy about the new offering.