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Major upgrade for Office
on February 25, 2007
While Office 2003 offered a refreshed look and some improvements in functionality, the basic structure remained the same. While veteran users were able to easily navigate the familiar menus, it had become increasingly difficult to locate some features (for instance, in Word, would you find "insert new rows" to a table in the "insert" or "table" menu?).
With Office 2007, Microsoft offers the "ribbon", a new and more intuitive way to access features that we used to find in the menus. While the features are basically the same, they are now grouped together according to when and how you would normally use them. These groupings are accessed by clicking on tabs, which are organized in the order you'd use them. The best way to get a better understanding of this change is to check out the screenshots, or download a free trial version of Office from Microsoft. While Office 2007 was released at the same time as Vista, you do not need Vista in order to run it. The program ran fine on my Windows XP laptop, which only had 512 MB of RAM, and it runs even better on my Vista laptop with 2 GB of RAM.
As for which version of Office to buy, this is the third time I've opted for the Home and Student version (which has had other names in previous releases, but is still being sold for $149). I need Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and this is the most cost-effective way to get those programs. I was disappointed that Microsoft dropped Outlook from the Home and Student version. In order to continue to use Outlook, I installed Outlook 2003 and haven't had any problems.
Instead of Outlook, you get OneNote, a program that uses notebooks and tabs to save and organize all sorts of files and documents. I haven't had much time to play with OneNote yet, but the more I use it, the more impressed I am with it. It looks like one of those programs that you can personalize to meet your own needs and not have to fight with it to get it to do what you want.
This is a significant upgrade and should allow all users, new and experienced, to work more efficiently and quickly.