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Common misconceptions about Office 2007

We answer some common questions about Office 2007 from Office Watch readers

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I don't know whether it's because of all the Microsoft promotional material about Office 2007 or in spite of it, but looking through the messages from Office Watch readers it's clear that there are some misunderstandings about Office 2007.

Before you rush off to buy Office 2007, or make a firm decision to stick with what you have - here's an attempt to set the record straight.

I have to use the new document formats in Office 2007

No, you don't. It's quite easy to configure Office 2007 to use the older (doc, xls, ppt) formats as the default format. While the new Office 2007 formats are better and smaller, it's difficult when everyone you deal with can't read the formats (despite the free Compatibility Pack )

Not even all Microsoft products have been updated to deal with the new formats so it's not realistic to expect Office users to make the change immediately.

In Word 2007 go to Word Options | Save | Save files in this format - the equivalent position in Excel 2007 and Powerpoint 2007. This sets the default document type for new documents you create.

You can still read the new document formats or use Save As to make them - at some future time you'll probably switch to .docx etc as your default formats. The new formats are better in the long run. That choice is yours not Microsoft's.

The new ribbon interface is too hard

No it isn't - a lot of the negative press about the Office 2007 user interface is based on people who had not used it, or have only tried it briefly.

For example, we still hear concerns that toolbars only appear when needed (eg the Table tabs show up when you're in a table). The thought of it brought back memories of the much despised 'Clippy', that could be intrusive and troublesome. The Office 2007 ribbon isn't like that.

When you click on an image in Word 2007 the Picture tabs appear on the ribbon but the focus doesn't switch from the toolbar you're on. The relevant tools are offered to you, but not rammed down your throat.

Once you sit down and use the ribbon you'll see that there are teething troubles but overall it's a good move. It's takes a little getting used to, but not as much as you might expect and is worth the trouble.

That's our opinion, other people may find changing to a new interface is difficult. Even if the new system is better in the medium and long term there is a learning curve in the short run.

One of the Office Watch team said when reviewing this article "I think you're being overly positive about the impact on ordinary users, especially as to the learning curve that'll challenge them."

Article posted: Tuesday, 23 January 2007

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