If you’ve got your hands on a copy of Office 2010 Technical Preview, you would have noticed that the Office menu has now been replaced with a new page that covers the whole application when opened. This is the Office Backstage. This new view allows you to get work done faster than you could before with the menu.
The problem with the previous menu was that it couldn’t show all the actions that a user would like to do with a document and sometimes hunting deep down in the ribbon was required to find the right option. Office Backstage changes that by putting the document in focus when the view is selected, by clicking the Office button on the top left of any Office application. According to the Office 2010 Engineering blog, Office Backstage contains all the Out features that help people do something with the content they create.
The Out feature set includes a wide ranging and surprisingly long list, but they all have a lot of similarities. The primary characteristic is that they don’t act on a specific point in the document, and their effects don’t appear on the page. In fact, you could easily imagine using one of these features without even opening the document to look at it (for example, setting permissions on the file or sending it as an attachment).
Previously, you could set the permissions from the Ribbon menu, but now all the options that don’t help you change the document, but let you use it in various ways or add metadata to it, have been moved to Office Backstage. Options like compatibility, versioning, distribution and document properties are available in the backstage view. It also contains the usual options of opening files and saving in different formats. The printing options have also gone through a change and look great now. Sharing options have become much more useful than before and let you sent the file in various formats in a click or publish it as a blog entry or to SharePoint. The sharing options are very detailed and make it a piece of cake to send your documents.
The Options page provides quick links to activating your product, update it and links to advanced options and online support.
Overall, Backstage is a nice addition to Office 2010, and provides features that you definitely need to use after you’re done editing your document. For me, the change required me to get used to it, and now that I am, it seems more helpful than the start menu as I no longer have to dig deep in the ribbon. The ribbon itself looks much better now with all these Out features contained in the Backstage
What do you think of Backstage? Do you like it or not? Leave your feedback and post your vote in the poll.
Although the print/preview and document properties functionality in backstage is good, I think that the experience is just absolutely horrible when it comes to opening a file or going to options. What’s the point of going backstage and then again be put on stage with an old Option or File open dialog in your face, over your doument, just as before.. It is distracting, feels slow and extremly stupid.
I would understand if those would have been integrated; the options would then live in the right-hand side of backstage (and be searchable). The file open should be an integrated Document Libraries search filter right from the right hand side in backstage, with the most recent list shown as default. Then it would make sense. Now it’s just another half-harted, half-the way there, attempt. If you want to change somehting, you should always go all the way.
In my opinion the Backstage view is totally useless. Since when does a menu need to cover the whole screen, and what extra functionality is gained from doing so?
Users are confused as to how to exit backstage – OK it’s not difficult to exit once you know how, but it’s not obvious either.
Microsoft – you’ve already made your money with the equally useless ribbon in Office 2007 – why not try making money by actually improving your products instead of forcing these unwanted cosmetic changes. Don’t think you’re fooling most users, as to most your business cynicism is really obvious.