Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Office 2007 Beta 2 - Some First Impressions

Now that the teething problems of Office 2007 B2 are behind us, I've now started to use these products. The versions available from the Beta site are not quite the same as those for corporates (i.e. no /admin switch) sadly.

The initial download was problematic, but a week on, and the download and registration sites are working OK. Activation is quick too. The basic installation process for all the Office client application is nice - and I really like the side by side capability. as I want to run both Office 2003 while testing Office 2007 Beta 2.

The first application I loaded was Visio 2007. WOW - seriously nice. I'll have no problem ditching Visio 2003! The new version just plain looks better as well as already enabling me to produce better diagrams. And thankfully the Ribbon Police have not ruined the UI!

Running Word 2007 brought up the dreaded Ribbon. I continue to both loathe and love it. The idea of, in effect, unfolding the menu structure to a visual ribbon is a good one. But much like parts of Vista, I think the Office designers forgot who was in charge of the UI. The Ribbon is very inflexible. You can't drag and drop things to it to change the appearance. And if you click, say on Mailings, you have to re-click on Home to get the Editing ribbon to come back. Then there's the floatie - Office 2007's re-incarnation of Clippie.

Upgrading Outlook was a particular fear, especially as I could not get Outlook 2007 to sync properly when testing it on Vista Beta 2. The upgrade to Outlook 2007 however has hung (the first time I ran it). Not an impressive upgrade, but restating Outlook in safe mode seems to work OK.

Like the curate's egg, this upgrade is good. In parts. Some bits are dreadful, but others I love. I just wish the ribbon were implemented with a bit of intelligence.

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