Friday, September 15, 2006

Microsoft Office 2007 (Beta 2, Technical Refresh)

Office LogoThe geek in me continues. As many of you know, I use Linux (Gentoo) at home (to host this webpage, for example) and love it. Many of you also know that I do not have a unfounded hatred toward Microsoft, Apple, or the Linux-style products. In fact, I have a Windows laptop for work, an ancient iBook from college, and an even more ancient Linux server in my garage hosting this page. I like all three systems for different reasons.

I will say this, though: Microsoft Office blows all other office-style applications out of the water. Now that Microsoft is releasing Office 2007, game over. I have been using the beta for the last couple of months and it rocks. I know that I’m a big nerd for being excited about a software product but hey, I use Office more than I use a lot of other things deserving of attention (e.g. my car, TV, etc.) so why not?

Office 2007 on my machineOffice 2007 has been completely redesigned. This means two things. First, you will hate it for about one week, and two, you will love it thereafter. I have gone back and used Office 2003 since on other computers and it makes me feel clumsy, dumb, and irritable. Once you get used to the new design, the old design feels like a crumpled up, hacked together piece of computer garble.

I won't go into much of it now, but the basic gist is this: every feature is in the ribbon (that toolbar thing). If you are looking for something, just click through the tabs and it will be there. No digging required.


This is of particular interest to me because one of my personal interests is GUI design, including the study of how people use computers. I have long believed that if you are semiliterate and become confused while using an application, it is the application’s fault.

So if you are brave enough to try out beta software, give Office 2007 a go. I think you can download it for $1.50, though it was free when I got my copy. You can also take a “test drive” where you use a remote copy via a web browser so you can try it out without installing it.

You can already read a lot more about it from the developers themselves.