WHAT’S NEW IN MICROSOFT OFFICE 2007:
· The motivated, ground-up rebuild of Microsoft Office Standard 2007 presents significantly different interfaces and new file formats. The new Office looks so unlike its predecessors, it's likely to glimmer intense love-hate responses from users. This upgrade isn't for everyone: If you're patient, eager to try the latest tools, and willing to relearn most of what you already know about Office, then you may relish the challenge of Office 2007.
· However, if you only use a small fraction of what Office offers or you felt that getting the hang of Office 2003 was painful enough, then you might want to leave Office 2007 on the shelf or try it free for two months first. We see in your mind's eye that power users who have mastered the nooks and crannies of the older versions will curse the steep learning curve. But take heed: The new era of Office affects even those who don't upgrade, and a conversion tool is needed to let older Office versions open Office 2007's default, Open XML files.
· Office 2007 does offer complex features that you can't yet find somewhere else. However, it also falls short in key areas. Integration among the applications isn't as thorough as we'd hoped, and there's no one-click way to collaborate with others on an edit without buying Microsoft's Groove online collaboration tool or working within a server setting. The advent of Office 2007 comes as a growing number of competing tools are simpler, cost less (if they aren't free), and handle the same core features. Oddly, despite its bevy of Windows Live and Office Live services, Microsoft chose not to build a bridge to the Web for all Office users.
Breezing through the options, our fastest installation of Microsoft Office Standard 2007 took no more than 20 minutes on a Windows XP computer. However, settle into your lead if you're curious about the fine print. We spent 40 minutes just skim the 10,379-word End User License Agreement and stopped before we could understand it all.
From that point on, loading the Office suite onto our hard drive took 15 minutes flat. Office Standard 2007 is smaller than its predecessors, at about 3GB. Unlike the Windows Vista operating system, the new Office does not demand the newest hardware. Office 2007 is supposed to work the same whether running on Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, or Windows Vista.
Once you open each Office 2007 application, you'll see a fundamentally different, blue interface that's brighter than in the past. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint arrange features within a tabbed Ribbon toolbar that largely replaces the gray drop-down menus and dialog boxes from a quarter-century of Office software. The Office logo menu, docked in the upper left corner, bundles many commands from the old File and Edit menus. Outlook lacks the logo button and adopts the Ribbon only within its message composition and scheduling windows.