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Why "Upgrade" To Office 2007 598

Posted by Hemos
from the a-question-asked-everywhere dept.
walterbyrd writes "IMO: Office-2007 is a contender for the least useful upgrade in the history of computing. It's expensive, has a steep learning curve, and it's default format is even less compatible with anything else. Stan Beer discusses the "upgrade" in his article: Question: why do I need to upgrade to Office 2007?."
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Why "Upgrade" To Office 2007

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  • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 15, 2007 @09:53AM (#17613410)
    a) Because Bill says so
    b) Because muppets keep sending you files in a new, super incompatible format that you can't open otherwise
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

      by oggiejnr (999258) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:23AM (#17613812)
      It's not entirely true that the new formats will force you to upgrade. There is the Office Compatibility Pack which allows Office 2003 + XP to open and save OpenXML formats as well as convert between them.
      http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/products/HA10168 6761033.aspx [microsoft.com]
      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rucs_hack (784150) on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:04AM (#17614368)
        Yes, but lets be honest here, just how many office users are going to look for things to make their documents easily compatible, or even realise that such a need exists? Not a big number I would think.

        Most people I know who use microsoft office and other microsoft products use them exclusively. I've made some inroads into converting people towards open source, but it's often too much work.

        I had to change away from using openoffice and Latex for my documents during my phd because my supervisor insisted everything must be in microsoft formats, as did the department I was in. That was everything from papers to lecture materials. As this was a computer science dept I was somewhat amazed. I was at one point the *only* person there actively encouraging use of open source tools.

        This wasn't a place I was happy be to be at, hence why I am no longer there.
  • by advocate_one (662832) on Monday January 15, 2007 @09:54AM (#17613424)
    switch to OOo and for that matter, why not OOo on Linux... the training costs for the upgrade to Vista and/or office 2007 might as well be considered as similar to those for switching away from the proprietary lockin and moving to truly open formats for your data. Then you will have jumped off the upgrade treadmill and will be free to upgrade at your own pace instead, when you want to rather than when outside pressures force you to...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      Except that there's also training costs for your IT department to learn to deal with Linux and OO.o. A lot of Windows admins that I've seen would never be able to deal with a Linux system. The users might not have much trouble switching to Linux with OO.o, because of the simplicity of the tasks, but the IT department that's used to dealing with Windows and MS Office would have a very hard time dealing with the switch.
    • by maxume (22995) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:39AM (#17614004)
      If you are paying people $40,000 a year, $500 a year in software licensing is a consideration, but it doesn't take much of a productivity gain to justify it. It also doesn't take a very large risk of lost productivity to justify not switching to something very new.

      If switching does save $500, that money can obviously be used elsewhere, but OOo is going to have to be very good to convince people that are satisfied with MS Office to switch. I am not going to speculate about how many people are actually satisfied with office.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by klubar (591384)
      The other problem with switching is compatiblity. OO is close to compatible, but if you're in business that depends on perfect formatting...close doesn't cut it. Bullets change fonts, line breaks change, pages don't quite fit and tables just get screwed up.

      If you depend of excel macros (a really great feature) you're completely out of luck. And there isn't a good OO equivalent to PPT...once you've bought PPT, the whole suite isn't much more.

      OO is find for internal use or writing a letter to mon, but no
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by berzerke (319205)

        ...And there isn't a good OO equivalent to PPT...

        It's called Impress, although personally, I feel both programs are over-used.

  • as in ? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by udderly (890305) * on Monday January 15, 2007 @09:55AM (#17613430)

    FTA: While I have the utmost respect for Mr Mossberg, I can't help but feel that the words in the second paragraph contradict and negate the words of the first. To my mind, a logical layout of commands and functions would obviate the need to learn how to find those commands and functions.

    While I have the utmost respect for Mr. Beer, I can't help but feel that he has laid out an impossibly high standard for software menus. Is it even possible to, as he puts it, "obviate the need to learn how to find those commands and functions?"

    Take what I said with a grain of salt, I'm bitter 'cause wish I had a kewl last name like his. Cue the "free-as-in-beer jokes." In 3, 2, 1...

    • Re:as in ? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DingerX (847589) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:53AM (#17614212) Journal
      Yeah, I've been using Office (predominantly Word) for 15 years too (migrating from Amiga WP), and I have to say that the "ribbon interface has a steep learning curve" is a week argument:

      First, because he means the curve is shallow, not steep. A steep learning curve means something is easy to learn. If you doubt me, feel free to plot a "material learned/time" graph on the back of an envelope.

      More seriously, what he means is that the interface is difficult to use. I've been using Office 2003 for 3 years, and every permutation before that, and I am still cursing the interface as buggy and counterintuitive. I hate contextual menus -- they mean I always have to check to see if the option I want is there, and it usually isn't. Microsoft ripped off that ill-advised Macintosh idea of making the computer "Smarter than the User", and the result is offensive.
      Take one example: Every time I encounter an installation of Word that I have to use, the first thing I do is disable everything automatic that I can. But, of course, since I collaborate with folks in several languages, including ones that Word doesn't recognize, inevitably Word will still decide I'm writing in a language I have no intention to write in (e.g., Document was originally created in Austrian German, so every time I insert a footnote, it's in Austrian German). Now it runs automatic language support for that, including all that autoformatting crap that sucks even if I were writing in that language. Better yet, they enable the autoformatting, but require a consultation of a regional install disk to actually control it. So there's no bloody way to turn it off.

      Will Office 2007 be better? I don't know, but complaining about the interface being hard to learn doesn't make any sense? Office's interface has never been intuitive or useful -- well, at least since Word 5.1 for the Macintosh (and for the record, I've never liked Apple either).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by David Horn (772985)
        You clot. Plot "difficulty of learning" against "amount learned" and you'll find the analogy holds true. (Or "time spent" against "amount learned" etc.) I can't say I found Office 2007 difficult to learn. It's only difficult if you go into it expecting an incremental update over Office 2003. Bear in mind the the Office 2003 interface is what, 15 years old?
      • Re:as in ? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dirtside (91468) on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:22AM (#17614636) Journal
        Because you wrote it badly, I can't tell if you're joking about the learning curve or not, but just in case: The point of a steep learning curve is not to plot amount learned versus time, it's to plot amount you need to learn versus the ability to get things done. A steep learning curve is like a steep cliff: hard to climb. Long, gentle slopes are a lot easier.
  • by N8F8 (4562) on Monday January 15, 2007 @09:55AM (#17613434)
    we adults (or at least many of us) would prefer to keep using what we're familiar with until something better comes along

    These arguments are EXACTLY the arguments used with every major innovation in the past.

    DOS vs Windows anyone?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 2ms (232331)
      Dude, it's a word processor. Can you honestly tell me that even all of the upgrades to Word put together since like Word 95 could really be called revolutionary? You are correct that Command line versus Windowing/GUI was revolutionary. You are not correct that anything in word processing in the last ten years at least has been revolutionary. And how many thousands of dollars in Word upgrades have there been in 10 years? Gimme a break
      • by N8F8 (4562)
        Most of the evolution/revolution has come in the form of layout. Yes, many authors want the ability to create very advanced documents that feature images, figures, tables, columns, rotated text, etc. You can't compare this to Word Perfect for DOS. It would be a little more appropriate to compare it to Quark Express. This has resulted in a complex tree of options in the menu. first they tried solving the problem by hiding infrequently used options - to the consternation of many users. The Ribbon Bar is thei
        • by timftbf (48204) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:38AM (#17613986)
          Most of the evolution/revolution has come in the form of layout. Yes, many authors want the ability to create very advanced documents that feature images, figures, tables, columns, rotated text, etc. You can't compare this to Word Perfect for DOS.

          You're absolutely right. WP for DOS let you do all of those things, but let you keep control of them, and made it easy to produce coherent documents, with logical mark-up, in a user interface that didn't fight you every step of the way. (I was actually do most of my word-processing work in WP for VMS at the time, which was equally versatile.)

          Word encourages you to apply effects willy-nilly, while at the same time making it really hard to apply styles properly, or see exactly what tags are applied to what elements, and in which order. (Does changing *this* change the definition of a style? Create a new style? Reformat this particular element in the style with custom local changes? Most of the time, it's anyone's guess.)

          What you end up with is a document that can possibly be tweaked to look flashy, but probably unprofessional, by one person, on one PC / printer combination, for a given revision. Make changes, make changes on another machine, or (heaven forbid) let someone else make changes, and what you'll end up with is a document that quickly descends into a mess of semi-random style, formatting, language, spell-checking and other tags, with little to no hope of regaining any logical structure.

      • by Fozzyuw (950608)

        Dude, it's a word processor.

        I'd have to agree. There's plenty people could do, just using Notepad or Wordpad and some proper tab spacing (heck, sometimes, it would make it easier than dealing with Words formating bugs).

        That being said, I hear the new 2007 interface is much better designed for professional layout and design. I'd be interested in trying it, but I've believed for a long time that MS products are superiorly over priced, particularly for what you get. I don't deal with publishing (at least

  • by Carewolf (581105)
    Why the same reason you install any Microsoft Software, because you like a challenge.
  • All the article says is "the ribbon interface is less intuitive than the menu driven one, and it takes time to learn".

    Meanwhile, Office 2007 would probably be mandatory for new functionality in new products from Microsoft - just as Office 2003 is mandatory for some functionality (edit in dataview) for Sharepoint Server 2003
    • by maillemaker (924053) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:07AM (#17613608)
      I don't know what these new "ribbon" menus are or what they look like, but this just prompted me to speak of my biggest pet peeve of Windows menus that came on the scene a few years back: Dynamic menus. What I mean by this is how the drop-down menus off of the toolbar change to reflect the most recently-selected options. Thus every time you pull down a drop-down menu it looks different, and you must seek out the option you need, ususally by clicking on "more options" to see the "full" menu.

      Whatever menus look like, they need to be consistent. Menus that change every time you look at them suck.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Ah, "Personalized Menus." The feature I always cite to prove that Microsoft is clueless when it comes to interface research, and that they implement things just to have a marketing bulletpoint. Personalized menus sounds good on paper but is irritatingly awful in practice. A menu that actively hides its items from you--wonderful!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      That's why the whole MS lock-in thing is such a problem. All their applications are so tightly integrated together that if you want to use one, you have to use them all. Want to use Sharepoint, you have to use MS Office, want to use Exchage, you have to use Outlook, Want to use any of these, you have to use Windows. It would all be much better if you could use one application without being forced to use another application to get all the functionality.
  • From the article (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AlanS2002 (580378)
    "A question that must be asked then is whether some of the time taken to master Office 2007 would be better used to gain a more advanced knowledge of Office 2003, with the rest of the time being used to do some productive work? After trialling Office 2007 for some weeks, while away from home base, I believe the answer is a resounding yes."

    A better question would be 'whether some of the time taken to master Office 2007 would be better used to gain a knowledge of OpenOffice, reducing our need to jump every t
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Monday January 15, 2007 @09:57AM (#17613466) Journal
    Question: why do I need to upgrade to Office 2007?
    Answer: Nobody needs to upgrade to Office 2007.

    Microsoft isn't holding a gun to your head. You don't have a need for a ribbon. You may find out later that it increases your productivity and then you may learn that it provides a better solution for your problems. But if you're accomplishing your job and tasks with older copies of Office, why do you need 2007? The fact is you probably don't. I myself am quite successful with OpenOffice.org but I don't use the spreadsheet much if at all.

    Hell, as long as Microsoft keeps supporting the copy of Office you use, who cares about 2007? Let the early adopters play around with it and work the bugs out. I'll use the ribbon when everyone else is--no reason for me to learn another "J++" Microsoft product only to have that skill be completely useless. Office 2007 will probably be the de facto standard but why pay the price and risk of an early adopter?

    We're all intelligent people here (I think), and we're all capable of weighing the pros and cons of software. Office 2007 should be no different. If you want to present a good article to me on 2007, I'd like to see all sides of the issue, not just telling me why I need to use it.
    • by kestasjk (933987) * on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:42AM (#17614060) Homepage
      Office 2007 will probably be the de facto standard but why pay the price and risk of an early adopter?
      Don't underestimate the advantage of being ahead of the game in the fast moving world of IT. I know someone who probably owes all his success, and his big house, to fanatically learning MS Access and SQL Server before most people knew they existed.
      If you can see some extension that people will want you can capitalize on it, if people will need to be trained you can train them, if it really is a useful innovation you can take advantage of it immediately.

      However as you said it is a risk, as is any potentially worthwhile investment, and you have to decide for yourself whether it's worth it.
    • by Bryansix (761547)
      Microsoft isn't holding a gun to your head.
      Well not a real gun but a proverbial one. They are forcing you to eventually upgrade by changing their proprietary format so that you have to have the latest version in order to open and edit the files. There is no reason for this. There is nothing they needed to change in the format to add functionality into documents.
  • Agreed. GUIs are detestable for many reasons I will not elaborate here, but it must be also recognized they have some advantages: Attractiveness to first-time/rare computer users and semi-obviousness of how to do simple tasks.

    The banner might be more attractive to true first-time users, but will pose a whole new learning hurdle for rare users and much more for users with simple requirements (80+% of all users). The tasks have moved and now are much less obvious.

    MS has shot themselves in the foot again.

    • by Kenshin (43036) <kenshin@@@lunarworks...ca> on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:03AM (#17613530) Homepage
      Speak for yourself. I've been using Word for 15 years (on Mac and PC), and I personally think the ribbon interface is a nice change.

      Yes, you initially have to take time to figure out where things are, but when you know it's quicker.

      I might like to mention something else about all this bitching about "users having to learn a new interface" for Office 2007: Can I not use that same argument for not switching to Linux?
      • by Moby Cock (771358) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:23AM (#17613806) Homepage
        Can I not use that same argument for not switching to Linux?

        You could, but dude, your karma would take a beating around here.
      • TCO (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Per Abrahamsen (1397)

        I might like to mention something else about all this bitching about "users having to learn a new interface" for Office 2007: Can I not use that same argument for not switching to Linux?

        This is in fact the major argument against upgrading to GNU/Linux. Retraining put the TCO above the already known Microsoft software.

        The fun thing is that same the argument doesn't apply when switching to a different version of the Microsoft software, even if the UI change is larger.

    • by Silver Sloth (770927) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:06AM (#17613576)

      GUIs are detestable for many reasons I will not elaborate here
      That's a very bold statement to go unsupported. If GUIs are so detestable why have they been the primary interface for every computer outside the server room for the last twenty five years or so? Just because you prefer a command line....
      • by Blakey Rat (99501)
        Actually, they're pretty popular inside the server room as well. Netware used a text-based GUI in version 5. Windows NT servers have always used GUI tools to manage things. The first thing you do when installing SQL Server is boot up Enterprise Manager or Query Analyzer, both GUIs, to configure your databases. I'm also curious to hear his reasoning why GUIs are "detestable".
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by redelm (54142)
        I had thought GUI seductive disadvantages were welll-known around here. I apologize for that assumption. My reasoning:

        All GUIs are fundmentally menuing systems. Limitied choice. You can only run whatever has been configured. If you can find it. My $PATH has 2823 possibilities. A very crowded menu system might have 100. Forcing additional layers and complexity. Text meuing systems have the same disadvantage.

        GUIs are bloated bugfests. Poor use of hardware. A small example -- I view text

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      GUIs are detestable for many reasons I will not elaborate here

      Detestable? Detestable? You honestly believe that GUIs are (and I quote from Dictionary.com) "deserving to be detested; abominable; hateful"?

      In God's name why!? What the hell are your reasons?

      The only even half-sensible reason I can come up with for your belief is that GUIs are detestable because they allow those human vermin known as "normal people" use computers as well as any of us Unix nerds, and we simply can't have them mucking around in
    • by Pope (17780)
      GUIs are detestable for many reasons I will not elaborate here

      Such as? Or are you just an elitist who wants the world to devolve to the 1970s so that you can feel special because you can use that darn computin' machine.

  • Graphically Heavy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tijmentiming (813664)
    Someone here at my job has Office 2007 installed. It has some weird graphical things, like transparant popup windows when selecting text. this window shows options like bold/italic, etc. when moving the mouse over it, it slowly fades in. Moving the mouse out of the window makes it transparent again. I really don't see the use of it. Then there is this OSX background and still too much buttons.
  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Monday January 15, 2007 @09:57AM (#17613474) Homepage Journal
    The problems mentioned mostly exist for existing 'power' users who already know Office 2K3 and are unfamiliar with the new 'ribbon' interface of Office 2007. I think that the vast majority of users out there in the real world, however, use Microsoft Office as a fancy word processor and don't really know the true functionality of Word or Excel or PowerPoint.

    For those users, the ribbon may be a great help in unlocking the use of the tool.

    Of course, the real question is will the PHBs in major corporations see it that way? If they don't adopt Office 2007 in droves, it will die. If they do, then due to file format differences, everyone will be forced to upgrade and this becomes an entirely moot point. *sigh* Which is too bad for those of are using OpenOffice.org and other competing open source products.
  • As an employer? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Short Circuit (52384) * <mikemol@gmail.com> on Monday January 15, 2007 @09:59AM (#17613496) Homepage Journal
    As an employer, you'll want to upgrade because that's what all the college students will be trained in.

    I'm still irritated that the college I work at jumps on every little thing from Microsoft, but still doesn't cover anything recent from the UNIX or Mac worlds.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Calinous (985536)
      As an employer, you'll want to impose to your employee what software he/she is to use. If he knows only Office 2007, but you use Office XP in your network, he/she might learn it or go.
    • by Bert64 (520050)
      We had wordperfect when i went to college, that didn't mean that prospective employers used it.
  • More rows in excel (Score:4, Informative)

    by dhwebb (526291) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:01AM (#17613514) Homepage Journal
    The only feature I have heard of that makes me want to upgrade is the ability to have more than 65,536 rows in excel. Of course, if you have that many rows of data, maybe you should be converting the data into a real database format and working with the data that way.
    • by illegalcortex (1007791) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:17AM (#17613724)
      Actually, there are quite a few very good improvements to Excel. They finally blew the doors off of a bunch of stupid limits:

      The total number of available columns in Excel
      Old Limit: 256 (28)
      New Limit: 16k (214)

      The total number of available rows in Excel
      Old Limit: 64k (216)
      New Limit: 1M (220)

      Total amount of PC memory that Excel can use
      Old Limit: 1GB
      New Limit: Maximum allowed by Windows

      Number of unique colours allowed a single workbook
      Old Limit: 56 (indexed colour)
      New Limit: 4.3 billion (32-bit colour)

      Number of conditional format conditions on a cell
      Old Limit: 3 conditions
      New Limit: Limited by available memory

      Number of levels of sorting on a range or table
      Old Limit: 3
      New Limit: 64

      Number of rows allowed in a Pivot Table
      Old Limit: 64k
      New Limit: 1M

      Number of columns allowed in a Pivot Table
      Old Limit: 255
      New Limit: 16k

      Maximum number of unique items within a single Pivot Field
      Old Limit: 32k
      New Limit: 1M

      I will probably install Excel 2007 but nothing else. The conditional formatting alone should be worth it. Once you really understand it, you can quickly do some very useful things.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      Exactly my opinion. I think that the fact that Excel only supported 65K rows a feature. It's bad enough having people who don't understand databases making databases in Access, it's even worse when people try to use Excel to create a database.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bmajik (96670)
        No, it's a bug, one that i complained about, and one that i'm happy to see fixed in Excel 2007.

        I'm a former DBA, and one of my favorite activities was getting a dataset out of SQL with "some" processing done on it, and then pasting it right from isqlw (or now, sqlwb) into excel and doing more ad-hoc sorting and aggregate functions on it. You could usually do these things in SQL, but the indexes or partial computation was such that it might have been a 10-60 second query for each ad-hoc scenario you wanted
  • Well.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jugalator (259273) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:03AM (#17613528) Journal
    It's expensive, has a steep learning curve, and it's default format is even less compatible with anything else.

    It supports saving/loading backwards compatible formats too...

    It also had a surprisingly low learning curve for me, despite the vastly more accessible UI it seems to have than 2003 with its menu jungles.
  • by Xest (935314) * on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:03AM (#17613536)
    This seems the least thought through attempt at jumping on the anti-Microsoft bandwagon - Office 2007 is the first version in 12 years that really changes the way you use office to truly make you more productive. There are tools in Office 2007 to let you do some of the things that used to take you upwards of half an hour in under a minute.

    It's sad that MS is slagged of for not changing Office much over the years, then why they finally do innovate, and change it to improve productivity and usefulness people slag it off with "Booohooo it has a steep learning curve". Honestly, Microsoft may do a lot of things wrong, but they do also do something right (i.e. the XBox 360, Visual Studio etc.), I honestly think Office 2007 is one of those things they've done right.
    • by giorgiofr (887762) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:27AM (#17613854)
      There are tools in Office 2007 to let you do some of the things that used to take you upwards of half an hour in under a minute.
      That's quite a claim! Could you elaborate a bit, please? If it's true, maybe it's really worth using 2007.
      • by CDarklock (869868) on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:50AM (#17615094) Homepage Journal
        I love Office 2007, and think it's one of the greatest interfaces I've seen in the last decade.

        But since I work at Microsoft, I *would* think that, wouldn't I? So here's a concrete example. I think this rocks. You can make up your own mind.

        I often build PowerPoint slide decks (I will refrain from making excuses for this; I have my reasons). I rough out a group of slides, then tweak them until they look good. In PowerPoint 2003, the way that worked was I would save the slides, then apply different styles until I found one I liked. On a large slide deck, each of these changes might take a minute or more.

        In PowerPoint 2007, styles are visually applied when you hover. This is great, because it only applies to the slides you can see, which is a lot faster. So instead of applying two dozen different styles at a minute or more each, I hover over the style I'm considering and see whether it looks good. Once I see one I like, I click and apply it. The time drops massively from a 45 minute exercise to a 90 second experiment.

        It doesn't take a lot of little things like this to start adding up. Office 2007 is full of them. Everything I do in Office is easier and faster and more intuitive. If you work with Office frequently, it's fantastic. If you use Office for an hour a month, and you don't really do much with it... well, you're probably not going to get anything really noticeable out of the upgrade.
  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:04AM (#17613540)
    There are some useful features in Office 2007. However, you have to evaluate whether those features are necessary enough to overcome the upgrade costs as well as the re-training that will be involved with the new interface. Some people really want/need the new features. The problem for MS is that most users are just fine with the features from Office 97.
  • Good question (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 91degrees (207121)
    But before I answer that, can someone tell me why I should upgrade from Word 95? And the only justification I can think of to upgrade to Word 95 is long filename support.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sloppy (14984)

      I knew someone who worked in a medical billing office who had a good reason to upgrade from Word 95 to Word 97. Here is why:

      Once per week, she had to download a file from a bank, load it into MS Word, select one number on a line at the bottom of the file, copy, and then paste it into a field in a database application. The file really just contained plain text information.

      But despite being text, despite only really containing a single number that the user wanted, the file was in Word 97 format.

      When she

  • by urbanriot (924981) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:05AM (#17613564)
    I've been a diehard Microsoft Office user for years and have recently installed Outlook 2007 (upgrading from 2003) and discovered that they've replaced everything with a new font system which, on my dual high resolution LCD's, looks awful and blurred. To most people it's an improvement, however one of the original co-creators of Cleartype has gone on record to say that many humans have the ability to perceive more colors and these humans may find Cleartype to seem blurred or less clear. Going back to a non-Cleartype setup is extremely difficult, involving changes made in four separate areas of Outlook's unintuitive option screens.
  • The only reason to switch to 2007 will be to read the documents that others send you. This is nothing new. When the organisation for which I work switched to 2003, for example, it was not because we needed any of the "functionality" new to 2003. Nor had our users pushed Office to its limits and were crying out for new functionality. Let's be clear, 95% of users use maybe 5% of an office suite's functionality. The other 5% use maybe 50%, at best.

    But Microsoft never fails to make the new Office write files, b
  • You'll change because that's what Microsoft tells you to do. Or, rather, they will progressively stop supporting earlier versions. This coming from a fell who uses Word 2000 when he has to (OOffice or LaTeX otherwise).
  • no sense of adventure, eh?
  • by LibertineR (591918) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:25AM (#17613838)
    Isnt this what the dude is saying?

    What about a serious investigation of whether or not the new features will help his organization?

    How about a review of their current users, features used/wanted, to find out whether an upgrade would be cost effective and return something for the investment?

    Why does every new MS Office release inspire a new round of articles from dopes wanting someone else to tell them what would be good for their business, without much effort on their own behalf?

    Anytime I hear or read someone asking whether they should upgrade to the latest version of ANYTHING, I just want to choke them.

    By the time a new product comes out, there has been MORE than enough time for due dillegance, and the answer should be apparent before release candidates are distributed, unless of course, you are an idiot, and your company sucks.

    When a owner of smooth running Windows shop with dozens of .NET applications and centralized SharePoint askes me about switching to Linux to 'save a few bucks', I immediately do a quick cost/benefit analysis on whether or not I should just beat his ass and change professions.

  • I've been using Excel for nearly 15 years, and for the entirety of that time, I've been limited to 256 columns. Now the limit is 16,384 columns. This may not seem like much to the average person, but to a little abused VBA monkey who's had to use every trick in the book to handle the manipulation of big WIDE data, this is a godsend.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mspohr (589790)
      It's really dangerous to use spreadsheets for anything more than small, trivial tables. You should use a database which has tools to ensure data integrity and SQL is a much more flexible and audit-able method to process data.

      I cringe whenever I hear some spreadsheet jockey bragging about the size of his spreadsheet... you know it is just chock full of crap data and calculation errors.

      It's a shame that you've spent 15 years stuck on spreadsheets. Spend some time to learn a database.

  • by zlogic (892404) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:29AM (#17613882)
    Word 2007 is much better for technical documents. The features that were hidden in 2003 (like styles) are now very easily accessed. Another example is tables: in 2003, you either had to browse through menus to open the Tables and Borders toolbar and then close it to save screen space, now you simply switch to the Tables tab. Also, a lot of buttons have labels beside them, meaning you don't need to hold the cursor near every button for 1 second in order to see the tooltip. Oh, and did I mention instant previews when choosing styles?
    And the new equation editor simply rocks. It combines the best of TeX, Classic Equation Editor and OpenOffice Writer's equivalent. You can write some TeX code, press the Space key and Word automatically converts it to a WYSIWYG formula, which behaves pretty much like the equations in the Classic version.
  • The intervention of friends, family, professionals, or other community members might sometimes be required for escape.
    Just as the recently rescued kidnapped boys didn't walk or ride away when they apparently had chances for freedom, similar mental lock-in may very well apply in this case.

    Pay attention to even those you know only casually.
    You could be the one to spot their captivity and take them to freedom.
  • I don't know why MS doesn't just skip these "major releases" and just charge everyone a subscription (quarterly, annual, quadrennial, "lifetime") to the online "Windows Update" service. The initial purchase would include security patches for, say, a decade, or the lifetime of the product (when MS can force most everyone to pay again). But nonsecurity bugfixes, new features, extra modules (new formats, GUI styles, interops) would require the subscription.

    MS could still package "milestones" with their sizzlin
  • Not My Experience (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ThinkFr33ly (902481) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:38AM (#17613998)
    I've been using Office 2007 since it was released to MSDN Subscribers back in November.

    I went into the upgrade with high expectations for the ribbon. I had read a lot about it, and honestly it just makes a lot of sense. Commands that are grouped logically and presented contextually, while at the same time not being buried in a menu that few will ever see, simply seems like the right way to do things.

    At the same time I realized that I have been using Office for many, many years, and the fairly dramatic UI shift would probably result in some learning curve.

    I was, however, pleasantly surprised. For the most part, commands are where they should be. If I want to change the alignment of some text I go to the layout tab. (Or just highlight the text and move my mouse toward the fading in popup thingy.) If I want to insert a picture, surprise surprise, I got to the insert tab. It all makes a lot of sense.

    Furthermore, in just the couple of months that I've been using Office 2007, I've discovered a lot of functionality I never new existed. (And, as many of you know, most Office users only use a very small fraction of Office's features.)

    Each Office upgrade before 2007 has, for the most part, been an exercise in adding features that few will ever use because they don't know they're there. Office 2007's new UI changes that. For many users, it will be like Microsoft added thousands of new features when, in fact, they've been there all along but were never seen.
  • Well (Score:5, Informative)

    by El Lobo (994537) on Monday January 15, 2007 @10:43AM (#17614076)
    For the same reason you need to install Firefox 2. Or the last Open Office, or the last 1) Ribbon, ribbon, ribbon, ribbon, ribbon RIBBON!!!!!! There is no single UI control more revolutionary than this. I mean, it's a really great control to improve your performance and believe me, you won't miss menus or toolbars. The development of this interface was a product of YEARS of planning and user testing, and it shines.

    2) Want to see how a change will affect your document without changing it? Just put your mouse over a document skin or formatting and the document will temporarly "apply" the changes for you. The formatting will reverse to normal when your mouse is out of the area.

    3)The new contextual spelling checker.

    4)Building Blocks. Great time saver That's only from the op of my head, but of course if you are a average slashdotter MS could add *real gold* toolbars and you won't like it, so...

  • Clutter! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by scottsk (781208) on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:01AM (#17614330) Homepage
    WordPerfect 4.x was almost perfect - NO CLUTTER AT ALL. What was on the screen was your document. WP5.1 hid its menus nicely - they were GONE unless you needed them, then you could Alt-= and see them. Still no clutter while editing. Windows programs originally had a menu bar, but were mostly clutter free. Then they got a row of icons (SmartIcons in Ami Pro, later added to MS Office) and a status bar. Word then got a row of menus, TWO ROWS OF ICONS, and a status bar. Now there's more clutter - a "ribbon bar" (and I've only seen screen shots, not used it) and who knows what else. Meanwhile, the point of a word processor is to process your words, not deal with all the clutter on the screen. Anything that sacrifices screen real estate that belongs to your document's words for anything else is not an improvement and not progress. I think in all the race to add features to Word, they've completely forgotten the point of the program.
  • Just a Few Reasons (Score:5, Informative)

    by DavidD_CA (750156) on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:05AM (#17614382) Homepage
    I've been showing Office 2007 off for quite some time now to my clients, people I work with at the local university, and friends of mine.

    Not once has their response been "where is the file menu?" or "where are my icons?" Each time they've seen the ribbon and thought "Oh, that is smart!" They see how easy it is to change margins or add a Header/Footer and immediately want to know when they can buy it.

    Will businesses think it's worth $400 per desk? If it saves that employee about an hour of time every month, because they can do tasks faster now, then it pays for itself quite quickly.

    That's not mentioning how much *better* things look when created in Office 2007 using their new features. Have you seen the new shape rendering tools? Professional looking slides can be created in PowerPoint without the aide of the graphic design guys. Same goes for charts.

    Employees will make better use of styles in Word, conditional formatting in Excel, all because the features are easier to find now.

    People who boo-hoo Microsoft really need to sit down in front of Office 2007 for ten minutes and just check out its new features. Throw out your old ideas of menus and icons and just give it a try before you bash it.
  • by gelfling (6534) on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:30AM (#17614772) Homepage Journal
    Not seen 2007, probably won't. But THE biggest thing that irks me about Office, Word in particular, as we use 2002, is that things which seem absolutely commonsense to use EASILY, BECAUSE they are rarely used are strangely difficult or damn near impossible. Why is making a TOC so problematic and why does it take so much work. Why do pasted in tables take on a margin arrangement life of their own? Why do random words think they have to be spelled checked in French when the other 99% of the docyument is clearly written in English and is spell checked in English? Why is formatting text in a footer so damn hard? Especially something like not counting an arbitrary number of pages up front, like the rest of the publishing industry for the past 150 years? The point is, these things are hard because they're only used rarely. I'm sure that if had to monkey with it every day I'd memorize the 90 steps needed to do it. But why? Also why does font mapping between MS office and Notes just suck? Seems that 'Arial' should be 'Arial' and if it's 10pt in one doc it shouldn't naturally be converted to 24pt bold in another.

    BTW - the differences in the interface between 2002 an 2003 are almost completely for the sake of upgrading and eye candy alone. Except for the annoying default that checks help ONLINE which is really a huge pain the ass.

    I submit that MS spends little time actually bothering to find out what people what, and how they use it and they instead assume that whatever they like must be what we would naturally prefer too. OO is no better either since it follows MS's lead.

    Having said that, I can appreciate you folks who have to use spreadsheets to run your business and you might actually have a real need to use some of those high end obscure functions. Me? No. And no thanks. I think it's a shame that you have to run business functions in a glorified spreadsheet and wordprocessor though or that we have an 'Office Suite' that attempts to compose memos and keep the books and make toast and service the wife, etc....maybe that's the approach that's wrong. My wife runs our rental properties and budgets with a spreadsheet and no matter what I tell her about something basic like MS Money she won't use it. And please make no mistake she knows jack shit about Excel and can't use it beyond typing anyway.

    Anyway the problem with MS Office is that it's arbitrary. If the new version is still arbitrary then it's shit. If it's new kinds of arbitrary then it's shit. Either make my life easier or go away. I do not need to learn new workarounds.
  • by theonetruekeebler (60888) on Monday January 15, 2007 @01:11PM (#17616320) Homepage Journal

    Office-2007 is a contender for the least useful upgrade in the history of computing. It's expensive, has a steep learning curve, and it's default format is even less compatible with anything else.
    But does its grammar checker know the difference between it's and its?

    All I really want to know is how unobtrusive it can be. Word 2003 seems congenitally incapable of letting me write an entire sentence without doing something to distract me from the thought I'm trying to express. And you have to go all over the place to turn all that crap off. "Ooh! That looks like an e-mail address! Let's have a deep conversation with Outlook then make a hyperlink!" "Ooh! That file server called monday has a name just like a day of the week! Let's capitalize that word!" "Ooh! Someone you never met who worked here a few years ago wrote something with those three words in the title. Let's put some tiny dots underneath!" STFU and let me type.

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