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Microsoft aims for a stickier paste

With Office 2010, Microsoft is introducing a paste preview option that is aimed to let users avoid having to hit the "undo" button.

In Office 2010, Microsoft is hoping to cut down on the need for the undo button by introducing the ability to preview different paste options before committing to one. Microsoft

It stands to reason that one of the most common tasks users do in Office is copy and paste something into a document. In fact, Microsoft says about 20 percent of Office command clicks are either copy or paste.

But, it also turns out that one of the most common things users do after pasting something is to hit the "undo" button after finding out that they didn't get what they were looking for.

"You shouldn't have to do that," said Microsoft group product manager Chris Bryant. "We should give you better tools."

With Office 2010, Microsoft is introducing a paste preview command that lets a user see what the different paste options will look like before having to commit.

Today, the software maker provides a number of different paste options, such as including text with all the HTML formatting intact or just pasting the unformatted text. Users can even change the default to be whichever option they think they prefer the most. The problem is that there is no one option that is universally preferred and even the same user wants one format one time and a different option the next.

Microsoft is hoping the paste preview option will help solve that problem. It is also counting on that that and other new features will add up to make Office 2010 a compelling upgrade even though it is not the major overhaul seen with the last release, Office 2007. Microsoft is making an invitation-only technical preview of the software available on Monday, with a broader beta release planned for later in the year, to be followed by a final version in the first half of 2010.

"If you look at the number of times people cut and paste and then undo, it's remarkable," Microsoft Business Division President Stephen Elop said in an interview last week. "Personally I'm a victim of that, as well."

Elop said that paste preview is changing his muscle memory away from his pattern of "paste, oops, undo."