I downloaded Beta 2 for Office 2007 last week and have been using it at home and at work since then. The install only had just the one speed bump on my work machine, which was this amusing error message:


Hmmmm. Yes, I’ll just close, erm, whatever it is down then shall I? I told it to Ignore and it carried on without a hitch. Activation was a problematic at the time, but I was trying to activate on release day so I left it for a couple of days and it was fine.

I’ve tried both colour schemes, Windows XP (blue) and Vista (grey), and I prefer XP. The Vista style is just a tad too dark and you lose some of the nice detail. Something about the Vista theme just doesn’t look right to me.

Word2007-XPTheme Word2007-VistaTheme

The new look and ribbon set up are great. I’ve used Word and Excel a couple times but from what I’ve seen, I like. The new ribbon makes it so damn obvious as to where the various options are. The fact that it is also context sensitive and changes depending on what you’re trying to do is a real help, although it doesn’t always change. Why, I’m not sure at the moment. One really useful shortcut is CTRL+F1 which hides / shows the ribbon, just to give you a bit more screen real estate.

Most of my use has been with Outlook, and at first glance, it doesn’t look that different since the old toolbars are still there, and the ribbon only appears when composing emails. However it has been cleaned up a bit with the addition of the Navigation Pane on the right hand side of the screen.

Outlook2007-1 Outlook2007-2 Outlook2007-3

The first screenshot shows Outlook like it did in Office 2003, but if you close the Navigation Pane by clicking the << button to the right of the Mail caption, top left, it slides inwards (shot 2). If you then click on the vertical Navigation Pane label, far left, it shows the folder list as a popup (shot 3). This new way of work makes much more sense. I don’t need the folder tree view visible all the time, so I get more screen space for emails. If I do need access to folders, its a click away.

There is the new To-Do Bar on the right hand side which shows your calendar appointments and tasks, but I’m allergic to tasks so have tried my best to ignore it. I’ve also found Outlook to be a little unstable when closing, but I think that is down to plugins I use, and them not being compatible with Office 2007. (They’re for MindManager, Cloudmark Desktop and Speedfiler).

So my first impressions have been very favourable. Word will get a kicking in the next month since I have an assignment and report for college to do. I’ve got some tests to do at work to see if our Word and Excel output still works with Office 2007. Initial tests were not looking good for Word. We use a product called Office Partner (a Delphi component library) which uses the COM interface to access Office, and it looks to be broken now. A bugger really since Office Partner is no longer supported…

Anyhoo, expect more Office related ramblage soon.

By Paul

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