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Microsoft Office 2003 & 2007: A Look Back

Over the half-decade period spanning 2002 to 2007, Microsoft attempted to dramatically jumpstart its Windows efforts with the ill-fated Longhorn project, which resulted in the poorly-received Windows Vista. But Vista wasn't the only major product Microsoft plotted to overhaul during this time: After releasing yet another "lipstick on a pig" upgrade in Office 2003, the Office team got its collective act together and really went for it with Office 2007, a revolutionary Office upgrade that started the transition to a completely new UI.

(Office 2007 was so successful that the people responsible for it were brought over to the Windows team to fix that product line, a move that resulted in the blockbuster Window 7 release.)

Of course, the world was slowly moving to an online computing model during this time frame as well, so there are just a couple of articles here representing the Office team's first, tentative forays into online services, with a short-lived subscription service called Office Outlook Live and, of course, Office Live, which went through a few renditions before being pushed aside very recently.

As with previous entries in this series, the most recent articles are at the top.

Microsoft Office 2007 Review, Part 3: Office 2007 Applications - February 11, 2007

With Office, of course, it all comes down to the applications. Different people use different Office applications, while almost completely ignoring others. So I'll try to provide a decent roundup of the most-often used Office applications and note how they've changed--for better or worse--in Office 2007.

Microsoft Office 2007 Review, Part 2: What's New? - January 28, 2007

In this part of the review, I'd like to discuss two major changes to Office 2007 that affect the most commonly-used applications in the suite: the new Ribbon user interface and the new XML-based document formats. Both of these changes are major and revolutionary, and set Office 2007 apart, mostly in very good ways, from its predecessors.

Microsoft Office 2007 Review, Part 1: Introduction - January 2, 2007

Office 2007 is a home run, an absolutely stellar suite of tools that will benefit users of all types. Trust me on this one: Unless you have absolutely no need to be more productive, you want Office 2007.

Microsoft Office 2007 RTM Screenshot Gallery - November 6, 2006

Monday morning at 9:00 EST, Microsoft announced that its long-awaited Office 2007 System was complete, setting the stage for a late November 2006 business rollout of the products and a wider consumer launch in January.

Windows Vista and Office 2007 Packaging Revealed - October 31, 2006

With the upcoming release of Windows Vista and Office 2007, Microsoft is launching a new type of packaging for the retail versions of these products and, going forward, its other software releases. The new packaging is similar to that used by Microsoft's Mac Office line, and features a hard, clamshell plastic container with simple graphics and design.

Microsoft Office 2007 Beta 2 Technical Refresh Review - September 14, 2006

What a difference a few months makes. Back in May, Microsoft shipped the Beta 2 version of Office 2007 and made it available to the public. Since then, over three and a half million people downloaded and installed the beta. This proves a few things, primarily that there is a lot of interest in Microsoft's next office productivity suite.

Office 2007 Beta 2 Review, Part 4: OneNote 2007 - May 23, 2006

In this part of my Office 2007 Beta 2 review, I'd like to highlight another Office application in which I spend a lot of time, OneNote. With OneNote 2007, Microsoft has improved OneNote in several important ways.

Office 2007 Beta 2 Review, Part 3: Outlook 2007 - May 23, 2006

In addition to being my email interface, Outlook plots my schedule, keeps track of my contacts, and manages my tasks. That's a serious multitasker right there, folks, and though Outlook has been unmercifully copied by competitors, it's never been duplicated. One might wonder why anyone even bothers any more.

Office 2007 Beta 2 Review, Part 2: Word 2007 - May 4, 2006

As a writer, I live in Microsoft Word, and I've been putting this one through its paces like no other Office 2007 applications. And Word is the poster child for the new Office 2007 results-oriented user interface. It's the one that gets all the demo face-time. Let's jump in.

Office 2007 Beta 2 Review, Part 1: A New User Interface - May 4, 2006

Microsoft has come up with an excellent answer to the critics. It is simply changing the rules to the game. Instead of creating yet another Office version with a slightly modified user interface and slightly improved features, Microsoft has gone back to the drawing boards. And say what you will about the software giant's ability to innovate, because Office 2007--the next version of Microsoft Office that is expected to ship to customers in January 2007--is nothing but innovative. It's a breath of fresh air in a market that, frankly, hasn't ever seen changes this exciting or disruptive.

Office 2007 ("12") Beta 1 Tech Refresh Screenshot Gallery - March 29, 2006

With the March 2006 release of the Microsoft Office 2007 Beta 1 Tech Refresh (TR), we're finally getting a hands-on look at the final user interface for this version of Office. Microsoft says the new UI is designed to make the overall software experience easier, reduce design clutter, increase feature and capability discovery, and support the creation of great-looking documents.

Microsoft SKUs Customers with Windows Vista, Office 2007 - February 21, 2006

I like to think of it as feature-itis, but in Microsoft's understanding of the world, multiple product editions, or what it calls SKUs (for stock keeping unit, a retail term) equate to more revenues. That's why the company's upcoming Windows client and Microsoft Office revisions will feature more product editions than ever before, all aimed at specific markets. It sounds like a support nightmare to me. Let's take a look.

Inside Office 12, Part 2 - January 26, 2006

Here in Part 2, I'll continue this discussion with Jensen Harris, a lead program manager for Microsoft Office, and Jacob Jaffe, a Group Product Manager on the Office team. When we left last time, we were finishing up a discussion about Microsoft Outlook.

Inside Office 12, Part 1 - January 1, 2006

Jensen Harris is a lead program manager for Microsoft Office and the person most directly responsible for the new results-oriented interface found in Office 12. Harris recently took me on a lengthy tour of the Office 12 UI, showing off the new tab-based paradigm, which presents ribbons of functions in place of the more typical menu and toolbars.

Outlook 12 Pushes Productivity - January 3, 2006

Now that I've had the chance to play with Office 12 Beta 1 for a few weeks, I'm even more sold on the changes, which present the most commonly-needed commands up front and center in each Office 12 application. Internally, Microsoft refers to this UI as a "results-oriented" UI, one that dispenses with the traditional menus and toolbars that dominated previous Office versions.

Office 12 Beta 1 Screenshot Galleries - December 30, 2005 - January 2, 2006

Microsoft refines the Office ribbon in Office 12 Beta 1.

Gallery 1: Installation
Gallery 2: Word 12
Gallery 3: Excel 12
Gallery 4: PowerPoint 12
Gallery 5: FrontPage 12
Gallery 6: OneNote 12
Gallery 7: InfoPath 12
Gallery 8: Publisher 12
Gallery 9: Access 12
Gallery 10: Outlook 12

Office Live Preview - December 12, 2005

Unlike Windows Live, which is aimed squarely at consumers, Office Live is aimed at the business customers Microsoft targets with its Office productivity suite and related Office System products. In this preview, I'll examine what we know about Office Live, which is, at this time, still some weeks away from a private beta. In future articles, I'll describe my hands-on experiences with Office Live.

Office 12 Pre-Beta Screenshot Galleries - November 3-6, 2005

Despite being billed as a coming out party for Windows Vista, PDC 2005 was instead a showcase for Office 12, Microsoft's late-2006 rendition of its classic office productivity suite.

Gallery 1: Installation
Gallery 2: Word 12
Gallery 3: Excel 12
Gallery 4: PowerPoint 12
Gallery 5: Outlook 12
Gallery 6: FrontPage 12
Gallery 7: OneNote 12
Gallery 8: Project 12
Gallery 9: Visio 12
Gallery 10: Publisher 12
Gallery 11: InfoPath 12
Gallery 12: Office 12 Pre-Beta on Windows Vista

PDC 2005 Photo Gallery: Office 12 - September 13, 2005

Microsoft supplies some screenshots of the upcoming Office 12 release, which features a new, ribbon-based user interface.

Microsoft Office 12 Preview 1 - March 8, 2005

Microsoft is plotting the path to Office 12, its next major Office version. Office 12 will once again push collaboration features for businesses. It will arrive with a new range of Office-based servers. It will push the XML envelope even harder. But for Microsoft, the goal with Office 12 is more basic and more pressing than ever before. After years of lackluster upgrades and increased competition, Microsoft will seek to finally push its legacy users off of Office 97, fight the "good enough" arguments, and try to deliver a suite that meets the needs of many, many market segments. In this showcase, I'll detail the Office 12 delivery schedule and examine early Office 12 prototypes and plans.

Microsoft Office Outlook Live Review - January 20, 2005

A subscription offering that combines Microsoft's popular Outlook 2003 application with MSN's Hotmail Plus service and Microsoft Office Outlook Connector software, Microsoft Office Outlook Live (MOOL) provides an interesting solution for power users who are accustomed to Outlook.

Microsoft Office System 2003 Editions Review - October 21, 2003

Microsoft Office is so mature that most users don't upgrade on an every-other-version schedule, which is the norm with Windows, but on an every-third-release schedule. That means there are a lot of Office 97 users out there kicking the virtual tires on Office 2003, wondering if this release is worth the price. Allow me to spare you some suspense: If you're still using Office 97, yes, you need Office 2003, assuming you're running a supported Windows version. For Office 2000 and Office XP, users, however, the choice is a bit more complicated.

Microsoft Office OneNote 2003 Preview - October 19, 2003

Once I started using OneNote regularly around August 2003, there was no turning back, and I'm now a fan and regular user of OneNote. So here are the features of OneNote that make this application indispensable to me, along with a few 1.0 quibbles that I'd like to see fixed in the next version.

Microsoft Office 2003 Editions Compared - August 12, 2003

Microsoft has its own table comparing the various Office 2003 editions, but that version is incomplete, hard to read, and poorly organized. So here is my own comparative set of tables, which I think you'll find to be much more readable and useful.

Microsoft Office FrontPage 2003 Preview - August 1, 2003

Like many of the Office 2003 products, FrontPage 2003 is largely an evolution, rather than a new, written-from-scratch product. But if you use FrontPage, or are comfortable with Microsoft Office and would like to learn more about Web publishing, FrontPage 2003 is an excellent upgrade. Here are the features in Microsoft FrontPage 2003 that really make this version worthwhile to me.

Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 Preview - July 8, 2003

This Outlook version isn't just the most radically changed application in Office 2003, it's also the best all-around email and PIM client I've seen. Here are the features in Outlook 2003 that made me forget all about the competition.

Microsoft Office Word 2003 Preview - June 30, 2003

As the oldest Office application, Word can safely be called a mature product, and predictably it hasn't changed dramatically in years. The version of Word that ships as part of Office 2003 is no different: Aside from adopting the new Office 2003-style user interface and task pane, Word doesn't visually differ from previous versions, and in day-to-day use, it's almost identical to Word 2002 (XP), which added the Smart Tags feature on which I now rely.

Microsoft Office 2003 Beta 2 Review - March 21, 2003

Office 2003 Beta 2 adds a host of new functionality as well as fully-working versions of its two new applications, InfoPath (formerly "XDocs") and OneNote, both of which were missing in action in the Beta 1 release. So let's take a look at Office 2003 Beta 2. There's a lot to take in.

Microsoft Office 11 Preview - December 6, 2002

The new Office, currently known only as Office 11, adds a new user interface scheme based on the visual styles in Windows XP and a host of new features, while dropping the subscription software scheme that Microsoft tested in the previous version. Office 11 will also include new applications, such as XDocs and OneNote, though some of these new features aren't present in the first beta.

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