According to the Redmond company, the Beta testing program for Office 2010 Service Pack 1 (SP1) is planned for debut by the end of 2010.

Invitations have already been sent out to a select pool of Beta testers that are close to the software giant.

Early adopters are invited to participate in a very exclusive testing program for Office 2010 SP1 Beta but also for SharePoint 2010 Beta.

“We are contacting you about an opportunity to participate in an upcoming Beta testing program. You may be a previous tester of Microsoft products, or someone who has been nominated,” reads the email sent by the Microsoft Office Customer Programs Team.

“Beta programs are unique ways to experience product updates and provide feedback to the development teams. More »

After it released a resource designed to help customers of the latest iteration of its productivity suite get familiarized with Word, Microsoft is releasing a similar guide for Excel. Microsoft Excel 2010: Interactive menu to ribbon guide is now available for download free of charge. The guide is designed to help long time users of Office, but which have not tried any new versions of the product since Office 2003, to find their way around the latest version of the product.

With the introduction of Office 2007, Microsoft completely overhauled the graphical user interface, moving away from the traditional Menu style. In Office 2010, the Redmond company perfected the new look and feel associated with the Ribbon/Fluent GUI. However, users that did not make the jump to Office 2007, with find just as big of a gap in terms of the evolution of the UI when it comes down to Office 2010. More »

A new resource available for download from Microsoft is designed to let customers upgrading from Office 2003 or earlier to Office 2010, get familiarized with the redesign of the look and feel of the Word components of the product. The Word 2010: Interactive menu to ribbon guide can be grabbed free of charge through the Microsoft Download Center, and as the label implies, users will get a “visual, interactive reference guide to help you find the new location of commands in Word 2010,” according to Microsoft. “Use this interactive tutorial to find the location of commands in Word 2010. The guide is a simulation of the old menu version of Word. Click a command in the guide to learn its new location in Word 2010.”

With the advent of Office 2007, Microsoft dramatically overhauled the graphical user interface for its productivity suite. The evolution of the new Ribbon/Fluent GUI continued with Office 2010, which brings to the table a perfected variant of the user interface, widening the gap between the new design and the old File menu that was the default in Office 2003 and earlier. More »

Once upon a time the Word .doc format was the de facto standard for word processing. Then Microsoft went and mucked it up with Word 2007, which introduced the XML based .docx format.

To be fair it is an improvement on clanky old .doc but it also meant that older versions of Word were unable to open document written in Word 2007 or later. Again, to be fair, there is the free Compatibility Pack available from Microsoft, but what if you haven’t got Word, and you get sent a .docx file? Well, there’s always OpenOffice or you could download the free Word Viewer, but this is an old program and it has a number of limitations.

There’s another alternative, how about TextMaker Viewer 2010. It will not only open password protected .docx files it also handles OpenOffice documents and a number of other popular word processor document formats.

Needless to say you can’t edit documents but they can be printed and exported as pdfs. There’s no catch, it’s free, though there is an annoying ‘nag screen’ but this can be disabled after the third time the program is opened by ticking the ‘Do not show again…’ box.

An updated version of Windows PowerShell Quick Reference is now available for download from Microsoft, having been released the past month. Live on the Microsoft Download Center since April 20th, 2010, the Windows PowerShell Quick Reference is, as the name implies, a free resource offered by the Redmond company to simplify the work of IT professionals leveraging PowerShell. Essentially, the download is designed to provide a quick-reference guide detailing a number of common Windows PowerShell commands.

Whether an IT admin wants to know how to access arguments, solicit input, use colored text, insert comments, print data, change security settings, run a specific script, sort data, create a .NET object, etc., the Windows PowerShell Quick Reference has the answer.

At the same time, the guide offered by Microsoft covers additional commands for PowerShell, and admins should download it, print it and keep in on hand, just in case. “For best results, open the file in Microsoft Word, print the contents to legal-sized paper (8 inches by 14 inches), and fold the resulting printout in half, making a four-page booklet,” Microsoft stated. More »