So as I continue to re-discover my passion for technology and the company I work for, I’ve recently started playing with some of the new functionality in the upcoming release of Office 2007. There is a public beta for this product available. I’m running my version on top of a pre-release of our upcoming Vista operating system. There have been numerous reports in the press about a lot of different things regarding Vista. What I can tell you anecdotally is that my experience with Vista has been awesome. While the new UI will require some getting used to, it doesn’t take long. The Aero glass will truly be slick for folks who have the graphics horsepower and it will be much simpler to use. File system hierarchies currently in place make more sense. You don’t have to find ‘my pictures’ under ‘my documents’ anymore. Nice. Don’t get me wrong, there are still issues with the code. Its still pre-release code which means that performance is less than stellar. That and my machine (a 2+ year old M200 TabletPC) is slightly underpowered to really recognize the true benefits of Vista at this point. Its good enough for me to show off to my customers though and the fact that it is hosting a much more stable build of Office 2007 makes it impressive overall.
For those who have been living in a cave, Microsoft Office is in for a major facelift as well. The traditional menu structure that we have come to expect is no longer there. Instead, a much more functional "ribbon" is there. You get instantaneous feedback for the changes that you wish to apply to your documents and it centers much more around tasks as opposed to menu related items. Customers have voiced concerns over the costs that will be associated with training their users to the new interface, but I currently vote to let them just figure it out. Realistically, I’m not an Office power user by any stretch of the imagination, but realistically, I’ve found that I have an easier time getting what I need to done with the new interface. It just took once or twice to figure out where the button I was looking for was now placed.
Outlook 2007 didn’t get the interface overhaul that some of the other applications received, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t get some enhancements. The capabilities of Outlook 2007 are really terrific including new search, an integrated taskpane including calendar info, and terrific RSS integration.
Overall, this is a lot to get excited about. When you add things like the improvements that we are making for home and entertainment devices, mobile devices, Zune and more, we are going to be in really good shape. As I said, I cannot remember the last time I was this excited.