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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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  • More rows in excel (Score:4, Informative)

    by dhwebb (526291) on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:01AM (#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.
  • Well.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jugalator (259273) on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:03AM (#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 God'sDuck (837829) on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:11AM (#17613642)
  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:12AM (#17613652) Homepage
    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.
  • by Otter (3800) on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:14AM (#17613670) Journal
    So my point is, you either have a already researched features you like and will run with...

    The ability to open large datasets in Excel, instead of having to use vim to figure out what the structure is. I'll be pleasantly surprised if the rest of the features aren't a step backwards, but it'll still be worth it the next time I have to figure out why SAS is choking on some huge text file.

  • by illegalcortex (1007791) on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:17AM (#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:As an employer? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Calinous (985536) on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:19AM (#17613754)
    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.
  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

    by oggiejnr (999258) on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:23AM (#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]
  • by ferrellcat (691126) on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:27AM (#17613856)
    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.
  • by hurting now (967633) on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:30AM (#17613894) Homepage Journal
    Well, we researched the product, and while Office 2007 isn't a bad thing, its way too damn expensive. When we are looking to upgrade 125+ licenses, its going to cost us way more than any of us can justify, no matter how cool the options are. We are currently running Office 2000 and our next "upgrade" is, Open Office.
  • Well (Score:5, Informative)

    by El Lobo (994537) on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:43AM (#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...

  • by syrrys (738867) <syrrysthevyrrys@hotmail.com> on Monday January 15, 2007 @11:47AM (#17614120) Journal
    Some of the fonts are not compatible with Office 2003 and opening an attachment sent via Outlook 2007 definitely will NOT work on ANY Blackberry device. So, if you have any clients that are not yet on 2007 and their employees use Blackberries, (I dont know what number of Blackberry users is but I bet it is pretty damn high) then, LOL, you are effed!
  • by peipas (809350) on Monday January 15, 2007 @12:00PM (#17614326)
    Compatibility Pack for 2007 File Formats [microsoft.com].

    Also see Word Viewer 2003 [microsoft.com], Excel Viewer 2003 [microsoft.com], Visio 2002 Viewer [microsoft.com], Word 97/2000 Converter for Word 6 [microsoft.com], etc [microsoft.com].

    Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement of closed formats; rather, an alternative for staying software version/vendor-independent.
  • Just a Few Reasons (Score:5, Informative)

    by DavidD_CA (750156) on Monday January 15, 2007 @12:05PM (#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.
  • Re:As an employer? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Calinous (985536) on Monday January 15, 2007 @12:05PM (#17614386)
    I remember now the way "Information technology" was taught to medical students (it was in 1997, at the time when labs with computers started to appear on large scale in medical universities - and the some of the students were using a computer for the first time).
          The program taught was Microsoft Works (whatever half-graphical version was then - 4.0 I think), and the lab notes were describing actions and the way they should be done. Most of the actions were to be done pressing one of the function keys. And the students had to memorize these actions (no mention of the menus, no description of the way you would search them, and so on)
  • by jaybea (1051482) on Monday January 15, 2007 @12:28PM (#17614736)

    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.
    It is a cost/benefit equation, which probably works out differently for each individual. For me, it is Excel 2007 with its much improved colours, better graphing, bigger worksheets, built-in Dashboard styles that outweighs the significant costs of the steep learning curve of the new interface - I have been using Word since Word 2.0, and have probably referred to the help file more in the last two weeks than in the previous 10 years.

    Although there are changes to most applications (but not, disappointingly, the VBA Editor which Microsoft did not bring into line with the Visual Studio 2005 IDE) whether the sum of the benefits of particular changes in the individual applications is greater than the cost is an individual assessment based on your own usage of the new features.
    My summary:
    • Excel - great changes for the most part. (+10)
    • Word - big changes to the interface makes it hard to find things, and the other changes are not that significant. Problems with PDF files created through Acrobat. (-3)
    • Access - it took me 5 minutes to work out how to create a new query this morning as the ribbon (Create|Other|Query Design) does not appear when you go to the Queries view (-5)
    • Powerpoint - not used yet 0
    • Outlook - not used yet 0
    Total = +2
  • by goombah99 (560566) on Monday January 15, 2007 @12:36PM (#17614866)
    In the mac world, word 6 actually had fewer features and was harder to use than mac word 5. the difference was that it was identical to the PC product. that is, they advanced the PC product to have features that were already in the mac product, and then regressesed and reskinned the mac product ot make it identical. I remember my extreme rage, shared by many, at this and vowen not to upgrade. Then after a month or so I got a critical contract application form in word 6. I could not read it in word 5 and had to buy word 6. so yes to your question.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 15, 2007 @12:42PM (#17614970)
    You WOULD NOT use MS Word.

    Unless you all have the same printers and drivers and so do your customers.

    You'd use a press format like, say PDF.
  • by rar (110454) on Monday January 15, 2007 @12:49PM (#17615072) Homepage
    So far no one has ever been able to create a document in MS WOrd that is 100% platform interchangable.

    LaTeX [wikipedia.org] uses its own internal floating-point emulation based on integers to ensure the output will look exactly the same everywhere. Now, *that* is to think ahead.
  • by CDarklock (869868) on Monday January 15, 2007 @12:50PM (#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 urbanriot (924981) on Monday January 15, 2007 @12:58PM (#17615232)
    I'd meant to cite the original interview where I read this, unfortunately I couldn't find it. I did, however, find another article where it basically states the same thing. http://radio.weblogs.com/0001011/2004/03/09.html#a 6925 [weblogs.com] . "Why do some people hate ClearType? Because ClearType relies on how we perceive color. Some people, he says, have a heightened perception to some colors which makes ClearType less useful to them." I've hated ClearType since its inception and am further agitated that it's forced on us in both Vista and Office 2007 in such ways that are difficult to completely rip out. I've been in many arguments with people that it's difficult to read and makes me nauseous failing to understand why people enjoyed it and many years, operating systems and LCD monitors later, it still looks as awful as it looked to me the first day I'd tried it. What further bothers me is many examples are given with italicized serifed text which arguably makes it easier to decipher.
  • by berzerke (319205) on Monday January 15, 2007 @01:12PM (#17615470) Homepage

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

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

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday January 15, 2007 @01:50PM (#17616000) Homepage
    WE did the same here. WE are sticking with Office 97. it works great, does everything we need and works way faster than office 2000 or higher does.

    Those that will whine about outlook, we do not use it we use a different groupware setup that does not lock us into Microsoft on the server side.
  • by quacking duck (607555) on Monday January 15, 2007 @02:20PM (#17616454)
    The worst incompatibility that users are likely to encounter between Mac/PC Office files: images pasted from the Mac clipboard (or drag/dropped from the Safari browser) show up fine as long as you're on a Mac, but an erroneous "Quicktime / TIFF decompressor could not be found" error appears in its stead if you open it on a PC.

    Dragged-and-dropped image files from the Finder are fine, as are those put in via Insert > Image. But, copy/paste is done far more often.

    This has been going on at least as far back as Mac Ofice 98, and is still in v2004. All MS had to do was auto-convert the pasted image to whatever format MS normally uses (Windows Metafile perhaps; it's certainly not BMP or JPG). Macs, after all, have no issue viewing images pasted into the Windows versions of Office.

    The "compatibility checker" in Mac Office 2004 doesn't catch this. Imagine an electronically-submitted assignment--the average Mac user has no clue it's broken, and another point goes to MS when the PC user thinks to himself ahah, Macs ARE less compatible!
  • by Planesdragon (210349) <slashdot@NOSpaM.castlesteelstone.us> on Monday January 15, 2007 @04:58PM (#17618748) Homepage Journal
    *ahem*

    You can download a 60-day trial of Office 2007 right now, and one of those versions is the "$150 for three PCs" Student & Home edition.

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