Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

Office 2007: First Impressions: Word 2007

The Office2007 Ultimate edition makes sure you have a wide range of Microsoft software available. I have been using Word and Excel since Windows 3.1, which makes for a lot of hours of experience. And I guess that is true for a lot of people. For that reason alone it is interesting to see whether the transition to 2007 is easy enough to make. Up to 2003 the interface did not change that much. The Menu was mostly the same and -though maybe not easy to use- it was familiar. With 2007 that has changed. The default menu is replaced by The Ribbon, a menu bar that changes according to what you want are doing at the moment.

What do you get with Office 2007 Ultimate? Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook to mention the usual suspects. Access, Infopath, OneNote, Groove and Publisher make up the rest of the package. Expression Web (the package previously known as Frontpage) appears to be missing. I went for the upgrade option to make the transition from 2003 to 2007, which went smooth enough as far as I can see. Let’s have a first look at Word 2007:

 

You have to hand it to Microsoft. They know how to make things shine. The first impression should make you go “Wow”, at least for a bit, and Word 2007 did that for me. The new default font, Calibri, is pleasant for the eyes. The ribbon takes up about one fifth of the screen horizon. The big Office logo in the top left corner is where you open and close your documents. I did not like that in the beta and I still don’t like it. The ribbon was meant to make functions more accessible and more intuitive to use, but without any explanation you would have no idea what the logo is about (other than being a logo of course). I like the ribbon, I really do. The color palet could have been better. The various shades of blue are okay, but to use letters in other shades of blue (besides black) on top of that…. The moment you start working on your documents and start editing them you can see the ribbon change and offer you the various functions that were previously hidden for instance under the right mouse button.

The new Word was supposed to come with PDF export ability, but Adobe isn’t playing along. Where open source software has that function for years (with Adobe’s approval), Microsoft is not allowed to add that by default. Even the new XPS format –meant as a competitor for PDF- is not added to Word 2007. When you try to save a document, Word tells you these two options are not available but it is wiling to guide you to the website where you can download the package that adds them. Seems fair enough. Microsoft wants to check whether you have a genuine version of Office 2007 and you have to download the OGA plugin first. This works fine with Firefox and kudo’s to Microsoft for that. The OGA check also opens the way to the Office Online option, where you can find an interesting collection of templates.

Blogging from Word is very well implemented. It is as simple as opening “New blogpost” and set up your blog url. Like with Windows Live Writer this works very smooth. The categories are recognized and you can add them to the blog post with a pull down menu. I tried the blog extension under OpenOffice.org, but that required way more fiddling. GTKBlog wouldn’t recognize the categories. Again I find it strange that Microsoft is better to implement this open source feature into it’s flagship software than true open source projects.

The first few hours with the new Word 2007 left me with a good impression. The logo menu (for lack of a better term) has various interesting options that are explained for new users or users that didn’t know the options existed. For instance, the Document Inspector which you can use to check out whether personal information is hidden in your document. Use it whenever you need it. When I saw the beta I was wondering whether power users would not have problems with the transition to 2007. Well, the right mouse button options are still there and you can modify the quick access bar in the title bar ad hide the ribbon. The final implementation of the ribbon is nicely done, so I wouldn’t recommend that option.

P.S. After uploading the post to my blog I noticed that the image was not uploaded as well. Tsk, tsk… No can do. Now I have to find a way to report this.

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