First look – Office 2007

Not a day goes by when I don’t use Office 2003 for one reason or another and this morning I became curious as to when Microsoft would release an upgrade that would make my life easier.A quick search on the Internet revealed details of Office 2007 which is currently in second Beta edition and the finished version is due for release at the end of 2006.

The main difference in this new incarnation of Office as far as I can tell is the user interface which Microsoft has dubbed the ‘ribbon’ interface.It has been designed to replace the existing system of menus, toolbars and dialog boxes with a less cluttered system that allows you easy access to the more advanced features of the applications.I think the main drawback with the old system was that whilst it was fine for a while, as more advanced features were integrated into the program it became increasingly difficult for Microsoft to provide the user with each access to them.

The traditional menus and toolbars have been replaced with a set of command tabs that graphically present the most relevant features you require access to based on the program you are using.For example the command tabs in Word will be geared around writing and page layout whereas the same commend tab in Excel would encompass features such as chart and table creation.Additionally these command tabs will change based on the context in which they are being used – For example clicking on a chat will cause the command tab to include options predominately focused to chart editing.

Office 2007 will be provided in seven different versions from the Basic (Word, Excel & Outlook) which the majority of home users will probably end up owning right up to the professional Office Enterprise Edition which includes applications such as Publisher, PowerPoint and InfoPath.

The default file standard for Office 2007 will be XML which Microsoft seems quite keen to start promoting as a viable alternative to current binary formats.XML differs from the current Word, Excel and PowerPoint formats in that it is smaller and the file format allows for easier recovery of damaged files.Of course you will still be able to open the older formats such as .doc, .ppt, and .xls in the new version of the software.Interestingly Microsoft has also added support for the popular Adobe PDF format– this is a welcome addition that is long overdue.

At the current stage of development there doesn’t seem to be anything else remarkable to note about this new version of Office but then again the differences between Office XP and Office 2003 were extremely subtle so this doesn’t surprise me too much.The main thing to write home about is defiantly the new User Interface but whilst I’m sure it will be easier once you’ve got used to it, I am expecting it to upset those that have grappled for years to get used to the old interface that up to now has been standard in so many Microsoft applications!As always I’ll keep you informed over the coming year to any new developments as they are announced.

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.