The latest release of Microsoft Office includes plenty of interesting enhancements and improvements across all its components. Which in this version, Professional, includes Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Access, OneNote, Publisher, InfoPath Filler and Designer. Individually there's nothing revolutionary here, but overall this still looks like a worthwhile upgrade.

Word 2010 protects you from macro viruses with its new Protected Mode, for instance, which opens untrusted documents (any you've just downloaded, say) in a sandbox, where malicious code can't interfere with your settings. It's easy to apply a range of visual effects to text, new SmartArt graphics help build impressive diagrams, and you can edit pictures from within Word, no further software required.

Excel 2010 gains several visualisation tools: Sparklines displays small graphs in single cells, while the Slicer helps filter pivot tables to display precisely the data you need. But if you need industrial-strength analytical capabilities, then the new PowerPivot for Excel add-in makes it easy to work with information from many different sources, and can handle datasets with millions of rows.

Outlook 2010 sees revamped navigation everywhere, from the extended ribbon interface to goodies like the Conversation view, which shows you an entire threaded conversation at a click. The new Quick Steps work as simple macros, carrying out multiple Outlook actions at a click. And you're now able to email your calendar to contacts, making it easy for them to fit in with your busy schedule.

Access 2010 benefits from a host of incremental improvements. So for instance new prebuilt components allow you to build your databases more quickly, while fields can be added in groups (so an address includes Address, City, Country_Location and more). Office Themes support ensures your databases look better, and more consistent; Expression Builder uses IntelliSense to minimise errors; there's a new Web Database type, an improved Macro Designer, enhanced reports and more.

And Microsoft Publisher 2010 has a number of worthwhile changes. It now includes the ribbon, for instance, which makes it easier to locate many functions. The Building Blocks feature includes prebuilt components that you can use to quickly build up a document. There are more picture editing options; strong OpenType support allows you to create high-impact text; and enhanced print options allow you to view a full-page print preview, then tweak the results with a host of useful settings.

Elsewhere, PowerPoint is now able to broadcast presentations across the web. There's support for collaborative working, allowing multiple authors to work on the same Word and PowerPoint documents. And once saved online, you can continue to work on your Office 2010 documents just about anywhere through Microsoft Web Apps, on PCs, laptops or even smartphones.

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Office 2010 is packed with incremental changes that make it easier and quicker than ever to produce top quality documents. It's expensive, though, so check out the trial before you buy, and see how the new features work for you