As a follow up to my last post about upgrading to Windows Vista
, I figured I would add some info about the new Office 2007 package.
I was a MS Software trainer in a past position, so I am always interested when new software comes out and how it affects the user experience.
The differences between Office 2000 and 2003 were minimal. However, the difference between other Office packages and the latest 2007 release is HUGE!
I can't help myself...first the negative...
The first feature that drove me crazy was the completely new file format. Microsoft has moved to an XML file format that is not natively compatible with previous versions of Office. MS Word, for example, now has a file format of .docx, Excel has .xlsx etc. In order to maintain compatibility with older versions, you have to save the file in 2000-2003 format. The good news is that this setting can be changed so that all your files naturally save in the previous formats. I don't think I will move to the new XML format until more people have adopted Office 2007. I have already ran into problems with colleagues not being able to open my files. If you must stick with the new format, then make sure that other users that you interact with are aware of the compatibility pack offered by Microsoft
. The new file format may be a good move in the long run, but it is a pain in my side for now.
Next, the interface has completely changed from previous versions of Office. For those of you who are used to the familiar (and standard) menu structure such as "File, Edit, View, Help"; all of that is gone (even printing a document was a little tough to find initially). The toolbars are also completely different. They have moved to a "tabbed format". I was in a presentation from a member of Microsoft's Office Design team prior to the launch of Office 2007. The speaker mentioned that the new design was introduced to help put the "most commonly used features" in plain site (kind of like custom menus were supposed to in Office 2003). From a productivity perpective, this new interface has really tripped me up, and I am constantly hunting for "where the buttons are".
I find that the new Outlook constantly "hangs" my computer, especially with the "preview messages" feature on. I will click on an e-mail, and sometimes 10 seconds later the message will preview. Brutal...
Now the good stuff...
Just like with Vista, the search in Outlook is extremely fast. My Outlook profile is 1.5 GB in size, and I am not the best at organizing my e-mails (I have 3900 messages in my Inbox currently, and I just cleaned it up
). The search function makes life easier for finding e-mails quickly.
I LOVE the integrated RSS feed in Outlook 2007. It looks to whatever RSS feeds you have bookmarked in Internet Explorer. However, the more feeds to synchronize each time your load Outlook, the slower the program operates.
Viewing how your formatting changes will affect a document or spreadsheet is also a muchly needed tool. For those of you who have changed a font from the menu bar just to see what it will look like, you will like the "real time" changes. Just simply hover your mouse over a formatting button on the toolbar, and your selected text / cells will display the end result. Navigate away from the button, and it goes back to how it was. Pretty cool.
I am sure that I will eventually enjoy this MS Office release, but for now, I am still learning it. If you are considering the upgrade for your staff at your business, I would highly recommend some training to help familiarize your staff with the new package. It will ease the tension around the big "change" in software navigation, and help them be more productive out of the gate. Just like with Vista, you will also want to make sure your computer hardware can handle the new software.
What are your thoughts? Have you moved to Office 2007? What do you think?