Microsoft Office 2007 review
Another new innovation is the mini-toolbar, which fades into view when you select text, carrying the most common commands. Move your mouse towards it and it becomes solid. Move away and it fades. For mouse-centric users, it saves a trip up to the top of the window.
One change that may cause more hair-tearing in the first few days of using Office 2007 is the loss of the File menu, replaced by a big round Office Button in the top-left corner. This is the home for all the commands for doing things with your document. Save, Print, Send by Email and so on are all here, as are New, Open, Publish and Close. You also get the recent files list and the application options.
The file formats used by Word, PowerPoint and Excel haven’t changed substantially since 1997, when computers were constrained by a lack of memory and people needed their documents to save quickly to floppy disks. The new formats for these applications store the document text and formatting in XML files, which are then compressed using standard ZIP compression. Embedded files such as images are included in them with no conversion, so they don’t degrade. The resulting files (DOCX, PPTX, XLSX) are 25-75% smaller than the equivalent files in the previous format and are more resilient against corruption. The files can also contain structured business data in the form of custom XML packets. These ZIP XML file formats mean that Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents can all be generated or processed automatically without having to use the Office applications. This is a serious advantage for switched-on IT departments, which will be able to automate the production of documents and collect data for use in line-of-business applications.
Older versions of Office (2003, XP and 2000) will be able to open and save files in the new 2007 format via a free compatibility pack. This can be downloaded and installed now, and will be pushed out via Office Update/Microsoft Update and the corporate Windows Server Update Services (WSUS). The result varies according to the features used in your documents, but each app has a compatibility checker to warn you of features not available in other versions.
Word, PowerPoint and Excel now also include the concept of Themes: collections of fonts, colours and effects, which work well together. Changing a document from one theme to another changes everything at once, redrafting the look of a document with just a couple of clicks. Even when copying a chart from Excel to Word, the chart will take on the look of the document, automatically following the new theme.
Office has also completely overhauled its graphics engine. Excel gets much better-looking charts, and all the main apps share SmartArt. This quickly turns a boring bullet-point list into smart graphics of arrows, blocks, circles, cogs and so on. These blend with the theme of a document, picking up the fonts, colours and effects to make great-looking graphics with the minimum of effort. Pick the type of diagram you want from a large gallery of options and then type or paste in a list. The diagram creates, arranges and colours itself to the current Theme. If you change your mind later, you can add, remove or rearrange bullet points and the diagram gets redrawn to suit.
As well as updating all of the client desktop applications, Microsoft has updated and extended the server-side capabilities. There’s a new version of Windows SharePoint Services (WSS), plus the new Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS), combining SharePoint Portal Server with Content Management Server and adding support for rendering InfoPath forms and Excel workbooks in a browser.
|Software subcategory||Office software|
|Processor requirement||500MHz processor|
Operating system support
|Operating system Windows Vista supported?||yes|
|Operating system Windows XP supported?||yes|
|Operating system Linux supported?||no|
|Operating system Mac OS X supported?||no|
|Other operating system support||None|