Should I Upgrade to Office 2007?

Microsoft released eight different versions of its popular office suite sporting a easy to use user interface and a new feature called the ribbon. There is an Office 2007 suite for every type of consumer: Basic, Home & Student, Standard, Small Business, Professional, Ultimate, Professional Plus, and Enterprise (see figure 1). All eight Microsoft’s Office 2007 suites include the four core office applications that made it so popular: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. The only exception is Microsoft’s Home and Student 2007; it substitutes the New and Improved OneNote 2007 with Outlook (see figure 1).

Microsoft Office 2007 introduces several new additions to its Office suite: Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2007, Microsoft Office Groove 2007, and Microsoft Office Communicator 2007. Groove 2007 and Accounting Express 2007 are currently available, but Office Communicator 2007 currently scheduled for release the second quarter of 2007.

Office Groove 2007 is a desktop client that allows team members to quickly create and customize collaborative workspaces right on their PCs and easily invite others within and across organizational boundaries. Groove offers customizable tools, automatic synchronization, and integrated alerts. Groove’s contextual communication tools let teams work together dynamically from virtually any location, helping save time and increase productivity. Groove integrates with other Microsoft programs and technologies and is a great application for use in an Office environment. Groove comes with Microsoft Office 2007 Ultimate and Enterprise editions or can be purchased by itself from Microsoft’s web site.

Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2007 is a new program designed for the millions of new businesses that use pen and paper, spreadsheets or personal finance software to manage their business. Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2007 is Full featured accounting application that provides a single place to manage a company’s business finances with the familiar look and feel of Microsoft Office system programs. Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2007 is included with Office Small Business, Professional, and Ultimate suites. Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2007 is also available as a free download from

Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 due to be released mid 2007 is a communications program that helps people to be more productive by enabling people to communicate easily with others in different locations or time zones using a range of different communication options, including instant messaging (IM), voice, and video. Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 integrates with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Groove, and SharePoint Server to offer information workers many different ways to communicate with each other. Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 will be eventually released with Office 2007 Professional Plus and Enterprise suites, and be available for download from Microsoft website the second May of 2007.

All of the new Office 2007 applications that Microsoft introduced can benefit all types of business and corporations. The collaboration feature of Groove 2007 combined with the communication features of Office Communicator 2007 could increase productivity and lower the cost of doing business. Microsoft’s Accounting Express 2007 address the needs of small business that currently use pen and paper methods of record keeping and allows them to view their data in ways they could see before. These three new additions to Microsoft’s Office suite can definitely be used in an office environment to help increase productivity and efficiency.

Microsoft Office 2007 introduces a new file format based on XM; which are based on open standards. The new XML file formats enables fast creation of documents from different data sources, speeding up document assembly, data mining, and content reuse. The formats simplify exchanging data between applications in the 2007 Office suite and enterprise business systems. The Office 2007 released is not required to create a document in the new XML formats. Users can improve productivity by publishing, searching, and reusing information more quickly and accurately in the environment they choose using XML which is based on industry-standard XML and ZIP technologies, support full integration by any technology provider, and are available via a royalty-free license.

While the best way to minimize compatibility issues is to standardize your environment on a single file format, many organizations will need to deploy the 2007 Microsoft Office system in a phased rollout, or will need to collaborate with other companies. For this reason, Microsoft Office Excel 2007, Microsoft Office Word 2007, and Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 contain features to ensure compatibility with previous versions of Office. You can use the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack to allow backward compatibility, so that previous versions of Office can open and save files in the new file format. In addition, the openness of the new file format makes it more compatible with non-Office programs.

In Office 2007, Microsoft replaces the traditional menus and toolbars with a new User Interface called the Ribbon. The Ribbon organizes commands into a sets of tabs. The tabs on the Ribbon display the commands that are most relevant for each of the task areas in the applications. For example, in Office Word 2007, the tabs group commands for activities such as inserting objects like pictures and tables, doing page layout, working with references, mailings, and reviewing. The Home tab provides easy access to the most frequently used commands (Microsoft). Office Excel 2007 has a similar set of tabs that make sense for spreadsheet work including tabs for working with formulas, managing data, and reviewing. These tabs simplify accessing application features because they organize the commands in a way that corresponds directly to the tasks people perform in these applications.

It took me a little while to adjust to the new layout and use of the Ribbon, I admit at first I felt a wee bit disorientated, but after a few uses I felt right at home. In fact, I dislike using Office 2003 now. The Office 2007 User Interface provides me with easy access to the commands that I use the most and helps me become more efficient and effective at my task. The only thing that I miss from Office 2003 is the “Ask your question here” help text box at the top right corner.

Microsoft Office 2007 system requirements are fairly straight forward. The minimum requirements for Office 2007 is a PC with a 500 megahertz (MHz) processor or higher, at least 256 megabyte (MB) RAM or higher, a Hard drive with at least 2 gigabyte (GB) available; a portion of this disk space will be freed after installation if the original download package is removed from the hard drive, a CD-ROM or DVD drive, a 1024×768 or higher resolution monitor, and Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack (SP) 2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, or later operating system. Speech recognition requires a close-talk microphone and audio output device. Remember that these are just the minimum system requirements. I tried to install Office 2007 on a computer with 512 megabyte (MB) of shared memory and froze halfway during the install, I recommend at least 1 gigabyte (GB) of memory to alleviate this problem and to activate additional features such as OneNote Audio Search, and Grammar and contextual spelling features in Word.

In conclusion, I recommend upgrading to Microsoft Office 2007. Its streamlined interface is easier to use and will increases user productivity and efficiency. The new applications included with the suite will assist businesses and organizations of any size collaborate more easier and effortlessly then ever before. Microsoft Office 2007’s systems requirements are straightforward, the cost of upgrading your hardware is paid in full the increased productivity and efficiency that the suite provides.

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