Microsoft Office 2007

To add to a new MP3 player, browser and operating system, Microsoft is also working on a new version of Office.

Microsoft Office 2007 will add a plethora of new features and functionality to all of its applications. Menus and toolbars have been redesigned to help make both personal and business users to be more productive.

Garnering lots of attention is Office's new User Interface (UI). Designed to be a 'ribbon' that can be moved around the screen, this replaces Office's toolbars of the past. And to suit us folks who like to have our most-used features immediately available, there's a Quick Access Toolbar that you can add whatever functions you want to be more easily available.

According to Microsoft, Word 2007 will have more than 1,500 commands-a stark difference to the 100 commands in Word's original version. With new menus and toolbars, Word 2007 also includes features to create even more professional-looking documents in less time. Specialised 'quick formatting' features help you quickly build documents with a given look and feel. And there's a slick new versioning tool that allows you to scroll through multiple versions of a document simultaneously so that you can see what's been changed.

Feedback on the web to beta versions of Office 2007 suggests that Outlook is one of the most improved applications in the suite. While most improvements appear to be aimed at people working in groups, Outlook 2007 allows you to overlay team schedules directly on top of your personal schedule for simpler coordination. Even emailing your calendar of availability to others is possible.

So how did Microsoft know what features to add or change in redesigning Office? With lots of user-focus programs. The company deployed a beta version on the computers of thousands of non-technical Microsoft employees. In addition to focus groups and surveys, employees even had cameras in their offices or cubicles so that Microsoft could monitor how their eyes moved across the screen in response to specific tasks. Kind of creepy really.

To download a beta version of Microsoft Office 2007, visit the Microsoft website (Download or order 2007 Microsoft Office system Beta 2)
So, stay tuned for specific release dates on all of Microsoft's new product versions. For now though, make the most of the free betas!

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