On Monday this week, Microsoft launched the Office 2010 Technical Preview.  Thousands of customers can now download this latest version of Office to try out the cool new features and provide feedback.

Updates and Replacements

The Technical Preview includes proofing tools for English as well as for French and Spanish. We are delighted to announce that these proofing tools include brand-new spell checkers, contextual spellers, hyphenators and thesauri. We are excited about the release of these new proofing tools and eager to receive your feedback.

Improvements in the English Thesaurus

The English thesaurus in particular has seen some changes. You will now be able to find more synonyms in fewer steps. In Office 2007, if you look up the word tables, the only suggestion is table – the same as the lookup word, only in the singular. Next you have to look up the word table, select the synonym you are looking for and manually add an ‘s’ to the word to convert it back to plural. Four steps that include manual edits for one simple lookup. All of this can be done in one simple step in Office 2010. The screenshot below shows the results of the thesaurus in Office 2010 for the word tables:

 

We call this “inflectional morphology”.  Try the same with the word smarter in your Office 2007 version, and you will see why we think that inflectional morphology is a big step forward. We also added additional data to provide more synonyms for your lookups.

Localized Versions and Language Packs

The current Technical Preview includes Proofing Tools for English, French and Spanish. If you install the Technical Preview, you will not be able to run proofing tools for any language other than English, French and Spanish. For this release we have made significant changes in the proofing infrastructure, therefore  the Language Packs from previous Office versions including Office 2007 are not compatible with Office 2010. Proofing tools for these languages will become available with the release of the localized versions or with the subsequent release of the Language Packs for Office 2010.

Stefanie Schiller

Microsoft Natural Language Group – Program Manager