Playing with Office
I continued playing around the new versions of Microsoft Office to check up on changes. I have to look at every features again, because anything could have changed. The Office beta website provides minimal details.
Clearly, there’s a huge investment in the user interface. I wonder how much time was spent on galleries, or if that work was delegated to interns. All of the little details in the user interface has been fixed, such as Word’s nonstandard selection highlighting. The new fonts are beautiful as is everything else.
A number of commands appear to have been consolidated. Some functionality has been lost, probably due to a poor showing in usage results from instrumented versions of Office. For example, full screen and reading layout, once independent concepts, have been consolidated into one button, so Normal View in full screen mode is no longer available. Incidentally, Normal view has been renamed to “Draft” view. There actually used to be an additional Draft view distinct from Normal view, but that view wasn’t available by default and required customization. I was desperately looking for my macro support. Apparently, the developer toolbar needs to be turned on in the options dialog.
My favorite feature in Word is native, inline support for equations, which use to be provided by a third-party addin. That and bibliographies (which are no longer very useful for me now) were features that I longed for since college, and whose presence now in Word gives me some sense of completion.
Even with all the new icons, the initial working set of Excel and Word appear to be about the same as in Office 2003. There also seems to be some reclamation of memory after a long idle.
I also looked at how Office will impact my own product plans.
One item that caused me concern earlier was that, post 2007, Office will have a different version for each type of worker. A sales person will have a sales version of Office that will be different from one use by an R&D professional.
Word’s grammar checker is still poor. I ran an document, written by a non-native English speaker and filled with numerous obvious errors, and Word responded back instantly “The speller and grammar check is complete.” At least, it did not have me walk through instances of passive voice and long sentences this time.