Product review: Office 2007

20 Feb 2007

Office 2007 probably represents the biggest step change in the entire history of the Microsoft Office franchise. It not only looks entirely different to its brethren but tries to do a lot more too. Sounds good? Yes, to a point.

The problem with change is that few of us handle it that well. We like things being in a certain place, comfortably within reach. When someone comes along and reorganises a well-oiled system, from the kitchen drawers to your seat settings in your car, we get irked.

The same can be said with the Office family. It takes most of us long enough to get used to where everything is and what various things do. And then Microsoft come along and brings out a new version.

The difference between the 2007 model and previous incarnations is immense. Every previous incarnation looked similar to its predecessor only there were new features added in.

With 2007 Microsoft has changed the entire appearance of Office, ostensibly with the purpose of making it easier for new users to immerse themselves. But this means a new learning curve for established users.

Word 2007 captures the entire spirit of the new Office family – it’s all about quick and easy formatting. A ribbon across the top makes it easier to format characters, add logos, change colours etc.

I used this to write stories a few weeks back and it was intuitive enough. The only problem came when I mailed it to my usual machine and found my 2003 version of Office couldn’t open the 2007 file. This can be resolved by just typing “.doc” at the end of the filename but it’s still something to be aware of.

Most journalists loathe Excel and PowerPoint. We just use them solely to view information, rarely to create documents. In this case the virtues of Office 2007 became abundantly clear.

With 2007, what previously seemed like complex tasks, such as creating graphs, shapes, pie-charts suddenly, become the first things you attempt to do. Result!

Outlook 2007 at first look appeared no different to what we use today but an innovative to-do bar on the right hand side of the screen brings the calendar onto your screen each time you sweep your cursor to the right. The result is you can look at your folders, inbox and calendar without having to constantly change application.

In summary, Office 2007 is not without its awkward moments and for long-term familiar users of previous versions it will take some getting used to. Ultimately, the software brings previously hidden tools and potential to the fore.

Just how productive we’ll all be if we’re playing with colour schemes and creating tubular graphics is anybody’s guess. But it’ll look good.

PRICE: Home and Student: €149.99
Standard: €489.99
Small Business: €569.99
Professional: €649.99
Ultimate: €819.99


Handling: ****
Features: ***
Performance: ***
Value for Money: ***

By John Kennedy