Saturday, January 06, 2007

Word 2007

This is the first I've read about the new Word program- and from the sounds of things I'll either be sticking with my trusty 2003 or switching over to one of the open source office programs. Microsoft have not only enhanced the product for the new release- including a direct-to-blog feature- but they've also decided to irritate the hell out of every single Word user on the planet by completely changing the layout.

Everything you've learned about Word over the years is now wrong. The familiar menu names - File, Edit, View, Insert, Format and the rest - are gone, replaced by cryptic new headers: Home, Insert, Page Layout, and Reference.

And clicking on a header no longer triggers a flurry of pull-down menus. Sure, Microsoft's bloated menus were a design catastrophe, but at least you knew where things were. No more. Now you get a long horizontal bar called "The Ribbon" that holds - no, hides - most Word commands. Although Mac OS X users will find the ribbon familiar, they will have no leg up in battle to learn the new Word: most commands are slightly, but devilishly, different.

Great. MS has decided that not only must Vista resemble Mac software, but now so too must its premier program- at the expense of every single current user. Mmm, will it actually woo any Mac users over to MS and PCs? I don't think so- and it may surely push a lot of Microsoft users away from the program. Open Office, for example, is ever so slightly different from Word. With the 2007 release, Open Office must surely look a lot more user friendly than the new Word; and it's free. Word 2007 is retailing at $229 for the program alone or $109.95 for the upgrade. Sounds like a bargain to me; pay over a hundred bucks for a program that no longer resembles the original, or download a look-alike for free. Tough decision.

At the moment I use Outlook and Word- one of the reasons is familiarity with the programs, they are just what I'm used to. I like the way they both are now. But why would I, or any other MS user, pay through the nose for an "enhancement" that renders all of our current expertise obsolete, when we can get the same functionality for free?

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