Another Office? Should We Care?

To give you just a first impression (those of you who have seen the new version will agree with this): Office 2010 in relation to Office 2007 is like Windows 7 is to Windows Vista. You see, Windows Vista was really quite good, but possibly not quite ready for show time. Quite a few aspects were a bit half-baked. You could see the good intentions behind many of the features, but they were either too hard to use and/or tedious or simply did not work quite right. Most of that was fixed in Windows 7, which turned out to be a stable and very workable operating system.

Office 2010 is the same in many ways. Remember the outcry about the “ribbons” forOffice 2007 that replaced the menus? Well, they are still there, but they are now completely configurable (under File > Options > Customize Ribbon). And did you realize that I just mentioned “File“? The “Office button” in the upper left-hand corner is gone and has now been replaced with a File menu of sorts. Admittedly, this is not a “real” menu, but it offers you access to the Backstage view, a place to manage rather than edit and create your file. Here you have remarkable access to various previous versions of the file, all the file properties, all the print and save options, etc.

Also, there were a lot of complaints about Microsoft’s inconsistent ribbon implementation in Office 2007WordExcel, and PowerPoint had ribbons, whereas Outlook andPublisher did not. Now they all have them, including the customizability, Backstage view, etc.

Now let’s talk about the features that are truly relevant to translators.
First of all, your language packs that you might still have from Office 2003 and/or 2007don’t apply anymore. Bummer! This is clearly frustrating and makes the Office 2010package immediately more expensive (despite the fact that the basic pack is slightly less expensive than its previous reincarnation) if you have to buy one or several additional spelling and grammar checkers. Here you can check what kind of spelling checkers are included with what language version of Word.

Each additional language pack (which includes the ability to run Office in an additional language plus proofing for three or four languages) costs approximately USD 25. You can find a list of all the language packs right here, but I don’t think all of them are available yet — it looks like you can presently purchase only English, French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, simplified and traditional Chinese, and Italian.

If you are a user of a “minor” language, you might just be lucky enough to be able to download an LIP (Language Interface Pack) for your language that includes the ability to run Office in that language, use the spelling checker of that language, and sometimes even a help systems and templates in that language. You can find out right here which approximately 60 languages with what features are supported for that program.

Now, if you are a language service provider who deals with many languages and you bought the Multi-Language Pack (which included dozens of languages) for the previous versions of Word, you might be out of luck this time. It looks as though this won’t be available for this version. (If I get a chance to talk to somebody at Microsoft about this, I will do my best to plead with them to release it after all — so cross your fingers.)

On the bright side, it is much easier to find, purchase, and install the language packs inOffice. You will just need to select File > Options > Language in an Office program and there you’ll find the respective links.
What you’ll also find in that dialog is a link for a download to have the ScreenTips(previously called QuickInfo — the tidbits of information that you get when you put your mouse cursor on any item in the user interface) in any language. Depending on your perspective, having this feature can fall anywhere on the spectrum between helpful and fun — but either way I recommend that you download it in a language that is not covered by the user interface.

All of the translations of the ScreenTips (as well as many, many others) can be found on the Microsoft Language Portal, which was just updated last week with all the Office 2010terminology.

The Mini Translator (accessible under Review > Translate > Mini Translator) gives you a translation of the term you are pointing to. It’s not as bad as it sounds — it actually includes some grammatical information in some cases as well as a number of options for the translation. Still, I don’t see us using this option very much (but then I was wrong in assuming that professional translators wouldn’t use generic machine translation engines).
These are the directly translation- and language-related features. Here are some other things that I looked at.

I had hoped that Publisher would now have a way to export to an interim format that could easily be processed in a TEnT — nada. Fluency remains the only tool out there with which to directly translate MS Publisher files.
And then there is, of course, the much-discussed fact that Microsoft decided to allow us to store files online and use free online versions of the applicable Office programs to edit them. While this could be a major move for a lot of industries and/or users, I don’t think it’s very relevant to us yet. Google Docs is Microsoft’s biggest competitor in the arena of online stored documents. However, in the past few years I had exactly one client who ever asked me to translate a Google Docs document online — and the only reason he asked me was because he does not use any TEnT and that particular end client did not worry much about confidentiality. Since both of these characteristics are usually in place, we might just have to wait until TEnTs are able to work on those kinds of documents or clients’ attitudes about content relax (yeah, right, like that’s gonna happen anytime soon . . .).

Translators Training!

For the few who don’t know, here’s what it is: Rather than just asking translation environment tool vendors a question like “why is your tool so cool” (not a bad question — it even rhymes!), we sent each of them an identical Word file and gave them very detailed instructions on how to translate the file. They then Flash-filmed the process of their tool performing the translation. After they sent the videos back, we refined and narrated them and have made them public.

Since the same file is translated in all of the videos and the same terms are sent to the terminology database, this is a great way to compare the tools that are out there (presently we have videos by Across, Cafetrans, Déjà Vu, memoQ, Similis, OmegaT, Star Transit XVand NxT, Wordfast Classicand Pro, Lingotek, Trados 2007 and Studio, SDLX, Swordfish, Heartsome, Metatexis, and MultiTrans) and learn how to start using them in the process.

So, to pick up the “cool” again: It’s cool. The only cost you might have is a couple of minutes until the video downloads — you can imagine that there are a lot of people trying to get to it right now — but then you can also save a lot on some of the tools! A number of the more important vendors (including Trados, Déjà Vu, memoQ, Swordfish, and Heartsome) are offering special deals when you order through our site. JZ