Office 2007 Analogy

Marc Orchant compares Office 2007 to driving a new rental car. I think it’s got some truth to it. I think the analogy can be extended in that you only rent a car when you don’t already have a car (e.g. Office 2003). ­čÖé

I actually mostly like the new UI. It looks clean, and it is not hard to use. But a UI doesn’t compel me to upgrade. I don’t really need prettier menus. I don’t even think I need updates to word or excel or even powerpoint. (Perhaps I lack vision on those products!)

What I do need is better email. Why is it that when I add a conference room to a meeting invite in Outlook, I have to manually mark it as a “resource”, or it won’t actually book the conference room? (So many people have experienced this – it could easily be comedy material for the Office Space sequel). Or, if I send someone my phone number, why doesn’t it automatically add my phone to the contact info? Or what about automatically showing me map locations for addresses? Or adding appointments to calendar automatically? Why can’t my wife schedule time on my calendar at work?

Lastly, the .docx filetypes make Word 2007 cumbersome to use for collaboration. Sure, it is an open xml format, which is a great step forward from proprietary formats. So, it is with some reservation that I complain about this. But, if you have Word 2007, and your colleague has Word 2003, I guarantee you’ll accidentally send a .docx file which he won’t be able to read. To solve this, he can install a .docx reader for his older version of Office, but more likely you’ll end up resending the file after manually converting to a .doc file for him. It doesn’t seem right that the default course of action is that you send a document that someone else can’t read. Why doesn’t Outlook figure that out before you send? After all, you probably sent email to this colleague before, and Outlook puts its version number into every mail header, so your Outlook can know what version of Office your colleague has. Outlook could tell you, before you send it, that you are sending a Word-2007 specific file to a user that probably only has Word 2003, and automatically convert it. Now that would be pretty smart! I guess I wish the default were to save .doc, and not .docx. There’s probably an option in there for that somewhere. But the ribbon has so many buttons on it, I’m not sure quite where to look!

On the good news front, Office 2007 does successfully tackle my #1 pet peeve with Outlook: fast email search. That is the best reason to upgrade.

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