How's office 2007?
January 31, 2008 9:54 PM   Subscribe

How's office 2007?

What are some of the biggest problems people are having with office 2007? In your opinion whats the best part of it and the worst? Did you find it compatible with your other apps? Did SP1 fix any bugs you noticed previously?

I hope this isnt marked as chatfiler, but Im looking for some hands-on reviews of office 2007 as opposed to professional and possibly paid-for reviews. Links to resources which address this would also be appreciated.
posted by damn dirty ape to Technology (38 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Office Open XML, thank fuck. No more word api.

it's really good, and I hate microsoft

File formats have changed though, so be aware,
posted by mattoxic at 10:06 PM on January 31, 2008

its nice.. prepare to learn a whole new interface. it's logical though, so you'll be able to do a lot more.. it just might take you some time to get familiar with where everything is..

keep in mind that it's a resource hog.. if you have a machine that's 4-5+ years old, it may be a bit laggy.
posted by evanm at 10:09 PM on January 31, 2008

I hate it.
posted by parmanparman at 10:10 PM on January 31, 2008

It annoys me every day. The interfaces are all different, so you are constantly spending time looking for how to insert a page break in Word, for example. And the file extensions have changed, so you send someone a document and if they have an older version of Office they can't open your stuff without downloading an update. Argh!
posted by LarryC at 10:10 PM on January 31, 2008

My boss hates it, but mostly because of having to learn a new UI. We figure that with someone who's never used a prior version of word, it would be fine, but it's a pain in the neck if you just want the 15-25% of the features you actually use regularly to be where they used to be.
posted by juv3nal at 10:14 PM on January 31, 2008

Others have touched on this already, but FWIW....

- The interface Sucks Arse. Unless you like something that's shiny but barely usable, in which case it's completely awesome.
- The new default file format is stupid, and 99% of the people I interact with don't use 2007 yet, so they can't read .docx/.xlsx/.***x files.
- The shiny bits of the programs make them resource hogs

I could go on, but I'd rather not. The only reason I have it installed is so that I can open the new file formats if I happen to get a document in that format (which, sadly, does happen from time to time, though not as often as I used to fear it would).

Yeah, it's horrid. I hate it. 2K3 was, in my opinion, awesome.
posted by omnipotentq at 10:20 PM on January 31, 2008

It has a learning curve, but once you get used to it, I think you'll find it's easier to do what you want. For those who must, must, must have the old menus, you can get this free template for Word, and there is another package out there that contains the old menus for all the Office apps (but you'll have to pay).
posted by kindall at 10:21 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

I agree with evanm, it's logical. Takes a bit of time to get used to, but it's good. Much nicer than 2003
posted by mattoxic at 10:22 PM on January 31, 2008

There is no reason to install Word 2007 just so you can open the new formats. If you truly prefer Word 2003 (or even 2000), then install the compatibility pack.
posted by kindall at 10:23 PM on January 31, 2008

I hated it for a few weeks, and now I prefer it. The interface is definitely superior, more intuitive, and like evanm said above, I find myself doing new things with Word that I never had before. The only reason people hate the new interface is they are used to the old one. First time users will love it I'm sure. The worst part is the compatibility problem.
posted by BinGregory at 10:24 PM on January 31, 2008

I have loved the Office 2007 from day 1. The interface is weird, but I have found it to be very welcoming, and makes it way easier to find the stuff I need. For me, clicking a tab on the ribbon, and then locating the correct icon only took a few times to get used to. I've written fairly long technical papers in both Office 2003 and Office 2007, and have found that finding and accessing things I need such as references, equations, tables, etc. is easier and requires far far less clicking in 2007 than in Office 2003.

There are also some niceties, like in Excel 2007, when you're scrolling really far down a spreadsheet, it detects when you're near the end of the data, and slows you down a bit, so that you don't scroll way past it.

As far as file formats, it's really not that difficult to do a Save As, and then choose the office 2003 file format. This isn't perfect though. I've had a lot of problems with equations originally authored in 2007 not rendering properly in 2003. They print out correctly, but sometimes display badly or look like shit on screen. My solution to the compatability problems, though, has been to start using PDFs most of the time when I send a document to someone else. I find PDFs open much faster (using recent versions of Adobe's deal, or Foxit Reader) than Word docs anyway. Of course, this doesn't work if the other person needs to edit the document, but unless you're using equations, saving as an old version isn't likely to be a problem.
posted by !Jim at 10:26 PM on January 31, 2008

piggyback -- do powerpoint files still get bloated to hundreds of megs for no reason?
posted by Rumple at 10:31 PM on January 31, 2008

I hate that gleamy damn logo in the corner of Excel. It's distracting and it took me about three days to realize that that's what you're supposed to click to save or open files.

I do like the Calibri font. And I love the option to flag things for "follow up: tomorrow" in Outlook. I use that all the time.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:34 PM on January 31, 2008

Best answer: The UI does get some time to get used to and I can see it being more problematic for certain users. It is painful in dealing with the new file formats in a mixed environment. Things I noticed:

1) Because of the tabbed ribbon, I find myself clicking more often to get to the tab to change font/size. I prefer choosing which toolbars always appear in 2003 and so one move to the top got me what I wanted;

2) Does not play well with Adobe CS2 due to file recognition. If you do a lot of Word to Adobe placing or converting this is painful;

3) I have yet to figure out how to default to final view in track changes. I have turned off track changes but every time I open the file the damn final with markup is shown;

4) If you do quick print on a file that track changes it will print the tracking by default though you shut off tracking, cleared all changes and saved it in final view. This little problem has ADDED a crap load of time to printing files and more clicks to get a document to look correct before printing

5) PowerPoint plays odd between Office 2007 and 2003 be prepared to spend some time before hand to be sure that all your stuff looks right before presenting. It plays real odd between the mac version of Office and 2007. Do not be me and find missing slides and images in the middle of a presentation;

6) 2007 still uses VBA, while the mac version does not do VBA. which is trauma;

7) Access, to me, seems to work just fine and I think the interface makes it easier for the user;

8) Outlining seems easier in 2003 to me but I am an old coot and may just need more time with it;

There is more stuff but I have been playing with it for only a few weeks now. The development teams for Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Access have blogs. The Word blog is the most active and helpful the others not so.

I work between XP, OSX and multiple machines including university lab rooms. YMMV.
posted by jadepearl at 11:12 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

I hate the way line spacing/linebreaks work when you're just trying to jot notes down into Word. No, I don't want everything to be fucking <p> tags, goddamnit. Just give me a simple carriage return, is that too much to ask?

The auto-sense on the outline feature is MADDENING "Oh, you seem to be deleting all the extra whitespace lines I insert after each bullet point. Let me delete ALL the whitespace lines between points" when what I really want is spacing between MAJOR points but NOT between sub-points. I could pull out my hair, and have.

The new Outlook is good. But beware that if you're caching your mail locally and not storing it on your Exchange server, then trying to use a company-wide shared calendar that IS hosted on a remote exchange server will cause Outlook to crash. Consistently. On every machine/installation in the office. With all patches and a razor-sharp IT staff present.

Overall I'm inclined to view it as a win, but there are parts I REALLY wish I could set back into some sort of 'traditional' mode before they drive me completely insane.
posted by Ryvar at 11:17 PM on January 31, 2008

I've found Office 2007 to be a mixed bag. I break it down a bit below:

1. Word. The changes to Word are mostly superficial and I've done whatever I could to avoid them. The layout and rendering algorithms haven't improved and the ribbon, though I don't hate it, doesn't add much. They also mucked up the default paragraph spacing pretty badly.

2. Excel. I think Office 2007 is worth getting just for the changes to Excel. My favorite changes are (a) condition formatting of cells; (b) tons more rows and columns; and (c) much better charts when you want to do something quickly. The ribbon doesn't bother me at all and all the old keyboard shortcuts still work. This is great software and a HUGE improvement over the older versions of Excel.

3. Powerpoint. Powerpoint is also much improved. The 'art' behaves and the file sizes are smaller. The fonts also look better. I think this software is worthwhile as well.

If you're a Word junkie, the switch may disappoint, but I'm a fan of the Excel and Powerpoint changes.
posted by eisenkr at 11:27 PM on January 31, 2008

We picked up Outlook 2007, and I find it confusing as hell. The new "ribbon" interface takes a lot of getting used to.
posted by davejay at 11:31 PM on January 31, 2008

SP1 speeded up Outlook 2007 noticably (and that was one of the advertized 'fixes' in sp1).

I rather like office 2007. I like the ribbon though it DOES have a 1 or 2 week learning curve. It would have been nice if they had also included the old menu system to ease the transition for people. There is an office (or Word) plugin available for sale which does exactly that, you can google for it. I believe its listed on the ms office website.

I like the ribbon, I like the live previews of changes; I like the more comprehensive right click menu options. Actually I cant think of anything I dont like about it.
posted by jak68 at 11:42 PM on January 31, 2008

I hate it. It's non-intuitive, it crashes ALL THE TIME, and the 60-day trial sucks. Only thing I use it for is Publisher. Everything else? Open Office FTW.
posted by divabat at 12:19 AM on February 1, 2008

I love Office 2007. There are a couple of power moves that take an extra keystroke (such as inserting a page break in Word or aligning things in PPT) for those who use the keyboard shortcuts extensively, but none of them are broken (you'll just have to hit enter an extra time, usually only when you're three or four strokes deep for something really obscure).

As others have said, the new defaults sure are purdy, and I think they make our documents and images stand out when I distribute them in print. After a lot of Arial and Times documents, Calibri just kind of stands out (for now). The ribbon can be minimized and customized some, and the new file formats tend to be smaller.

However, make sure that you get your co-workers and other friends to download the converter, or you'll (and they'll) be in a world of hurt.
posted by sachinag at 5:26 AM on February 1, 2008

I had to get it for school and wasn't thrilled at first. But now I love it. Of course it's different than what we were used to because of the new ribbon interface. Some people just don't like change, period. It will take some time to get used to. My favorite feature is being able to see changes instantly, i.e., if you are changing the font, you can see exactly what the text will look like with that font. You don't have to change it several times looking for the right one.

The converter is great, and I would also note that Word 2007 also gives you the ability to save documents in Word 97-2003 format.

Incredibly, I have had no problems or crashes as I assumed I would.
posted by momzilla at 5:52 AM on February 1, 2008

I am not a big fan of Office in general (too bloated IMO) but I think 2007 is an improvement. There is a definite learning curve involved, but nothing unreasonable. Microsoft has a Flash type website up that shows a direct translation of commands from 2003 to 2007 programs. That is the Word page. The others are easy enough to find.

One thing to note, Office saves in the new format by default but you can certainly save them in a legacy format if need be.
posted by Silvertree at 5:53 AM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you spend all day making colorful charts, I'm sure it's great. That seems to be what the new version is designed to do, primarily.

Otherwise, more bloated, slower, and even more bizarre stubborn defaults.

The fact that you can no longer customize toolbars to any significant extent is a huge pain for me.

That you can see the font/color as it's selected is the only improvement.
posted by desuetude at 6:12 AM on February 1, 2008

I've used Word, Excel, and Access in their 2007 incarnations after years of experience in their 2000 and 2003 versions. I think Access has been the greatest improvement of the three. The commands are much more accessible and it's a snap to import/export data.

Word and Excel seem to have a lot of shiny new things that could conceivably help non-designers make pretty documents and charts. The most useful thing to me about Excel 2007 is the ability to sort by cell or row color, so if you've highlighted certain rows, you can now bring them up to the top. The most useful thing overall is that when you highlight text, you get a quick formatting bar (kind of ajax-y) that allows you to quickly bold, change the font size, etc.

Formatting in Word is still a nightmare. I just recently formatted a document for work that was landscape, 2 columns, in outline format (I., A., 1., a.) with screenshots throughout. Halfway through, I wanted to kill someone. My numbered outline would disappear, my columns would go awry, the screenshots would suddenly run over the margins. So basically exactly like previous versions of Word. I only did this in Word because my company is too cheap to buy InDesign or similar, and the other people editing the document only know Word anyway.

My work computer seems to handle the memory usage fine, and it's not a new machine or souped up by any means. I think I might have 1 g of RAM at the most. I frequently have Access, Word, Excel, IE, and a proprietary program running at the same time, and never has it crashed or slowed.
posted by desjardins at 6:15 AM on February 1, 2008

I use it every day and I think it is at least a zillion billion times nicer than 2003. I wouldn't switch back.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:25 AM on February 1, 2008

I hated it from day one, and a year later, I'm hating it even more. I use Word mostly, and have found the ribbon just too interfering. Having things hidden in a menu worked better because you could concentrate on what you were editing or writing, but the ribbon seems to take up too much space and is distracting. Thankfully, you can hide it.

The problem for me is that it's still Word, except it just has a pretty dress on now. When I can, I prepare all my documents in WordPerfect and just copy them into Word. For me, Word does its absolute best to slow down my productivity, yet with WordPerfect, everything is there, intuitive and just gets the job done.

If you HAVE to use 2007, buy a book or get some tutorials at - they paid dividends for me as a lot of formatting is put in places you wouldn't expect. Be prepared to have a lot of screen flotsam and jetsam with 2007.
posted by stenoboy at 6:29 AM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

I really like it. I use it at work and I love it. As others have noted, the new UI takes a bit of getting used to, and I got used to it a lot faster than a couple of my not so computer literate co-workers.

I don't really care about the extensions, because you can set all the programs to save as the "old" extensions and never have to think about it again. I did this right away because most of the external people I send stuff to don't have 2007 yet. I have noticed in the last two months or so that quite a few more institutions (universities, hospitals) have upgraded to 2007, so I'm getting more .---x files.

Also as noted, it's a resource hog. All of us have noticed that it takes a while to load or open a document on our five year old machines. It's not a huuuuuuuuuuuuge deal, but sometimes it's annoying.

Frankly, if you know how to use the help function to look up how to do whatever you're trying to do (and can't figure it out intuitively), it's not a big deal. It takes one whole extra minute out of your day. No biggie.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 6:44 AM on February 1, 2008

Objective: Some menu items are in a different place and all the file extensions/formats changed, so if you want people with older version of Office to open your files, you have to "Save As" and select the 2003 option.

Subjective: it sucks.
posted by easternblot at 7:27 AM on February 1, 2008

I got it for free from the University and I can understand why. I do not even have that old of a laptop and sometimes, especially if I have multiple browser windows open in Firefox, it lags badly to the point where I am almost convinced I am going to have to restart the computer. I started to type out that the line spacing bugged one of my professors after the class turned in our first papers but then I remembered it was not that that annoyed him (rather it just annoyed me, who would want 1.15 line space) but rather the extra spaces between paragraphs that it inserted for no reason. It's easy enough to correct the formatting issues but still, I find it annoying. That and there have been two occasions where I have had to go back and re-save the file in 1997-2003 format since friends can't open .docx files.

The only good thing was that the disc included OneNote, which I adore.
posted by lilacorlavender at 7:33 AM on February 1, 2008

I teach Office 2007 to undergrads. Those without a lot of experience with previous versions love it and pick it up right away, doing more and different things than they've ever attempted before. Those with a lot of experience in the older versions, or those with previously-set-in-stone opinions sound like the most of the people on this thread.

Yeah, it's different from the older versions, and it takes a while to get used to the different locations for everything, but if you have the time (which, I understand, many people don't) to customize it to suit your taste, I think it can speed up your workflow significantly.

Minor things that made me happy: easier access to freezing rows and columns in Excel, Calibri and Cambria fonts, the To-Do bar in Outlook, more visually-pleasing interfaces in general. For someone who stares at various Office apps all day long, I appreciate "shiny" interfaces.

I do not like that there is some built-in virus-scanning that makes opening files take significantly longer, and I haven't found a way to turn that off. Mostly everything I've read in this thread though, can be turned off/on, changed, customized, added to a keystroke combo or set to the default if you have the time to poke around.

I have found file sizes to be smaller than previous versions of Office, although I have not checked into file sizes in Access yet.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:13 AM on February 1, 2008

Like BinGregory said, it takes a little bit to get used to, but I like it a lot better than 2003 or the others. I use the bullets a lot, and it took a while to get them set up like I want, but once I got them saved in the "quick use?", everything started to go much smoother. Also, you can save the files in the old formats--actually you can set that as the default way of saving. It's definitely too much fluff for nearly everyone, but it has those features I find I can't do without that aren't present on google/zoho/openoffice.
posted by uncballzer at 8:20 AM on February 1, 2008

I teach Office 2007 to undergrads. Those without a lot of experience with previous versions love it and pick it up right away, doing more and different things than they've ever attempted before. Those with a lot of experience in the older versions, or those with previously-set-in-stone opinions sound like the most of the people on this thread.

Doing what things they've never attempted before, though? Not snarking, seriously. Maybe it a student vs employee-use thing, but the new features seem to me like a lot of wow! but not much practical application to a regular job.
posted by desuetude at 8:58 AM on February 1, 2008

Word 2007 = ridiculously clunky.
posted by zach braff's mixtape at 9:08 AM on February 1, 2008

No classic menus, which means your first month with it will be mostly searching for familiar functions. You'll probably want to make the default save format "Word 97-2003 document" for compatibility reasons. The "Quick Access Toolbar" helps somewhat, so make sure to customize that almost right away so you can get to what you use most without 10 clicks.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:23 AM on February 1, 2008

For me it broke live linking between two excel workbooks. I have a need to have two workbooks open in one version of Excel, change a row, and have it immediately change in the other workbook. So far, most of the VB stuff still works.
posted by Climber at 12:02 PM on February 1, 2008

I have to say my main issue is the wonky formatting when creating outlines in Word - it used to be much more intuitive.
posted by Julnyes at 12:05 PM on February 1, 2008

I hated it. I switched back.

Incidentally, there's a compatibility pack available for people who have to use *.docx files but don't like Word 2007...
posted by gerryblog at 1:35 PM on February 1, 2008

you are constantly spending time looking for how to insert a page break in Word...

There are a couple of power moves that take an extra keystroke (such as inserting a page break in Word...

This is the same as it's always been: Ctrl-Enter.
posted by kindall at 4:30 PM on February 1, 2008

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