January 19, 2007 --
Though the current Microsoft windowing feels comfortable, trepidation
about Vista changes seems justified, based on preliminary reports.
Personal experience with IE 7 and Office 2007 exacerbate the concerns.
Using a 60-day trial
version of Office 2007, I can say what I like and (mostly) dislike
about this release.
Historically, Microsoft has paid attention to so-called "power
users", even to extent of providing a "Power Users" group as part of
the default permissions.
Reportedly, such users are given much less consideration in Vista.
As Microsoft pursues an even broader user base it may feel the need to
at the same time.
Though trivial, an anecdotal example in IE 7 is that arrangement of tool
bars has been noticeably constrained vs. IE 6 and predecessors.
The changes in Office 2007 are more dramatic.
I fetched the free trial version to get first hand experience.
I especially wanted to see if Outlook 2007 supports IMAP better than the
very restrictive IMAP support in Outlook 2000. Outlook 2007 may be the
best IMAP client I've tried.
(In spite of the overall attractiveness of Apple Mail, the IMAP
support is so poor that I've tried many alternatives in OS X:
Squirrelmail, and more
obsolete/obscure options. Squirrelmail is really quite nice, but
I'm not ready to switch to primarily using browswers for email.)
But the Office application I find most valuable, Excel, has
changed dramatically between Office 2000 and Office 2007, and not
for the better, based on my initial experience.
Opening a spreadsheet with links to other sheets was a trial of repeated
Worse, after seemingly forcing Excel 2007 to save in traditional
format files, the changes seemed lost entirely.
I may be a "power user" in general, but not with Excel -- what I do
with Excel is mundane. If Excel 2007 won't allow my normal usage,
sophisticated Excel users are likely to be very frustrated.
The Wall Street Journal has this to say:
"Office 2007, coming out Jan. 30, is a 'radical revision,' writes the Wall Street Journal's Walter S. Mossberg. 'The entire user interface, the way you do things in these familiar old programs, has been thrown out and replaced with something new. In Word, Excel and PowerPoint, all of the menus are gone -- every one. None of the familiar toolbars have survived, either. In their place is a wide, tabbed band of icons at the top of the screen called the Ribbon. And there is no option to go back to the classic interface.' He adds, 'It has taken a good product and made it better and fresher. But there is a big downside to this gutsy redesign: It requires a steep learning curve that many people might rather avoid.'"
The full Mossberg
does not coincide with my own experience, but maybe more experience
will lead me to similar conclusions.
I'm glad I own uninstalled copies of Office XP, that I can use
when support for Office 2000 goes away.