Archive for December, 2009


Check Out These Conversations Videos!

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Hello, Office 2010 Beta users! A couple of months ago, Michael discussed the new Conversations arrangement in Microsoft Outlook 2010. We hope you’re enjoying using Conversations.

Since the Conversations arrangement offers new capabilities for your Inbox, we want to share some videos to help you better understand how Conversations make your Inbox easier to manage. Feel free to comment, and let us know what you think. These videos are best viewed in full screen mode.



Jenny Liu and Josh Meisels
Outlook Program Managers

When you start Microsoft Outlook 2010 for the first time, you’ll notice that among other things, the Navigation Pane is a little different.

First, the folders are in a new order. The design goal is to make the most common default folders — Inbox, Drafts, Sent Items, and Deleted Items — easy to find while moving the remainder of the folders into an alphabetized group below. You might also notice that the name of your mailbox has changed from “Mailbox – <your name>” to your e-mail address. We made this change to help you distinguish accounts when multiple accounts are configured in Outlook.


We modernized the general look of the Navigation Pane. Unnecessary lines, gradients, and headers are gone. Windows-style expand/collapse widgets clip_image006clip_image008 replace the formerclip_image010clip_image012 widgets. (Click the triangles to see your folders.)


We also removed the module headers, such as “Mail,” at the top of the Navigation Pane. Commands not directly related to folder navigation are gone or moved into the ribbon, including:

  • All Mail Items search To search for all of your mail, click the search box, and then click All Mail Items.


  • Current View buttons These are now in the View tab.

  • Sharing links These are now on the Calendar ribbon and on the Folder tab.

  • Unread Mail from Favorites This search folder was not widely used, so we have removed it from the default set in Favorites. You can add the search folder back to Favorites from the list of search folders.


Here’s a general comparison of the Navigation Pane in Outlook 2007 and 2010:

Outlook 2007

Outlook 2010



Also, if you have configured multiple accounts in Outlook, you can drag the Inbox for each account into Favorites.


We hope these changes make your Outlook experience faster and more enjoyable.

Melissa MacBeth
Outlook Program Manager

The update includes 4 new style themes that enable you to place your panel trigger links to the left or right of your panels, in a vertical listing.


PowerPoint 2010 Beta: Behind The Scenes

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It’s exciting times for us here on the PowerPoint Engineering Team! Whiteboard brainstorms that began three years ago are now real live features, which are fully functional and ready for a test drive in the PowerPoint 2010 Beta!  As we pass this milestone, I thought it’d be fun to share the inside scoop as to how one of our features, Video Triggers, came to be…

Video Triggers is a feature with which one can mark locations in a video (i.e. set bookmarks), and then trigger animation sequences upon reaching those bookmarks on playback of the video.


While most of our features are done “by the book” (i.e. we research them, we plan them, we know from day one that they’re in the product), Video Triggers didn’t fit that mold—this feature grew organically!

At an MVP summit two years ago, I was presenting our video feature set when one of our MVPs asked whether it’d be possible to support captioning of videos. She wanted to make videos more accessible for the hearing impaired.

We didn’t have this feature.

As I shared this request with the team, we discovered that we had many of the pieces, particularly the ability to make text appear and disappear, as the Animation Team quickly noted.  Meanwhile, the Multimedia Team was implementing the ability to mark locations in video by adding bookmarks. We guessed that folks would primarily want use bookmarks to quickly find locations in a video navigation scenario, especially during a slide show when there is not much time to scrub through a video to find the important parts.  Early usability studies, however, showed that almost no one wanted to do this. The bookmarks feature was headed for the gallows.

Around that time, we were seeing early concepts of a template on which we collaborated with Duarte Design (check out the “Five Rules” template which ships with Beta!) One of Duarte’s rules: “help [the audience] see what you’re saying.”  I remember many of us thinking: how would we apply this advice to video? We let out a collective “Aha!,” and Video Triggers was born.  We would allow users to meld videos with animations.

So let’s recap: You have a user request for video captions, a bookmark feature headed for the gallows, entrance and exit effects we’ve had for ages, and an ounce of “Aha!”  Would you have guessed that those are the ingredients for Video Triggers? Oh yes, and to come full circle—our accessibility team is looking at building an add-in based off Video Triggers to facilitate the video captions scenario in particular.

On behalf of the entire PowerPoint Team, we hope you’ll love the PowerPoint 2010 Beta. Please! Tell us what you think. You never know— it might be the genesis of another great feature!

Jeffrey Chen
Lead Program Manager, PowerPoint Client

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Similar in concept to jQuery Carousel, Horizontal Glider Magic sets the benchmark for quality, flexibility, features, automation, and accessibility.

Horizontal Glider Magic is a panel widget. Hidden content panels are made to glide horizontally through a viewport. Panel gliding can be operated by clicking trigger links and various other available controls or can be set to play automatically, like a slide show. Unlike generic script libraries, HGM was programmed from the ground up to do one job and do it as well as it can possibly be done.

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