Microsoft Office 2007

In early 2007 Microsoft will release the next version of its Office suite. Unlike the last few versions, Office 2007 promises major changes in appearance and usability.

Office 2007 introduces a "ribbon" that sort of combines a menu and a toolbar, providing relevant functions in an organized way. Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint will have the ribbon interface. Office 2007 also introduces a combined view for reviewing changes between versions of a document. For example in Word the Styles area will change the format of a paragraph as the user moves their mouse over the various styles. Microsoft has been using data from the "Let Microsoft know how you use Office" program to determine what features are used most often, and how they are used. While the new interface will be quite different, later test versions have had a feature where users can use a "look alike" screen from say Office 2003 to pick a menu item, and Office 2007 will help the user find it in the new program.

In terms of technology, Office 2007 will introduce a new file format for Word that compresses the document text and any images into a ZIP-compatible ".doc" file, and also for Excel and PowerPoint files. Of course, it will also be able to read and write files compatible with previous Office versions, and Microsoft is releasing an update for older Office versions to read the new files. Office was originally slated to include native support for generating PDF files, but as of the latest pre-release version that has been removed after Adobe complained.

One item missing from the Office 2007 family will be Microsoft FrontPage. Microsoft decided to drop FrontPage and will completely replace it with a new web site design program in mid-2007.

Users can try out the pre-release version of Office on Microsoft's web site. This special trial runs through your web browser, with no download or installation required (Internet Explorer is required, and it still may take a while to get going if their test servers are busy).

October 2006

Send this article to a friend!
Subscribe to The ITS Connection

Related articles