A look at Microsoft Office 2007

Open a blog with some rants, yea, that's how things work...

When I started writng this, I've been using Office 2007 for over 2 months (3 at the most recent edit xD), at first I always wanted to write a review, just didn’t have the time yet :P. Common feeling is mostly satisfied but there are still some stuffs that annoys me.

  • First it’s the new file format. Yes it appears to be smaller than the last version’s. But a closer look to it reveals a lot of metadata, those a normal user not working for some big enterprise will ever need, exceedingly stored under a fancy directory structure, xml and stuff. It’s smaller just because it’s compressed (which means it shouldn’t be compressed anymore). The older file format will compress way better :).

  • Second, the introduction of a new file format just does not worth the trouble having to install converters to the old version or even upgrade to 2007. Yes it’s open, but isn’t most text processor are able to open and save Word’s old file format? Now the convenience of composing a file on 2003 then load it in 2000 with only the new features disabled is gone. 2003 can’t just open 2007’s file without the file format converter, the converter is included in 2003’s SP3 though, everyone is advised to upgrade as usual.

  • Lastly, the new feature count is not what a user would expect after 4 years waiting from the previous release. It adds new feature, it changed its look but it’s mostly the o’-good-features from a decade ago (from my view 70% of the current version’s features existed in Word 6.0 running on Windows 3, but Word 6.0 is much smaller ;). Seems like little innovation can further be made for this business.

After four years, Microsoft must have added a lot of things that (they hope) will brighten the day. I didn’t find enough time to scour what’s new list yet, so here is comes the long-waited list of new stuffs that I noticed when using Word for practical purposes

  • When you first fire up any application in the suite, the first thing you’ll notice is the all-blue interface, your file menu is gone, your toolbar seems a little weird, like a mix between some options panel, toolbar and menu. Well, that’s the new innovative interface of Office, the ribbon, which replaces the old menu and toolbar functions. You may not see the underlines but the ribbon actually can be accessed with your keyboard. Press and hold Alt to see the approriate keys.


    • Except for the simple black & white icon, you could also see that other icons are different from the previous version. They are more “crystallized”, possibly to look better with the all-round-glassy Vista interface.

    • Despite the renewed glassy (and must be 32bits) icons, Microsoft still left 16 colors icon around 8-> click the browse button (the round dot between the double arrow up and double around down under the vertical scrollbar in Word)


    • There’s also some button you won’t find on the ribbon like undo and save / open. They are essential, they aren’t removed, they are just moved to the quick access toolbar. Its name reflect its attributes, it is a small remnant from the old toolbars, now serving you with convenience. I don’t use it that much, I often use keyboard shortcuts for those actions :)

    • The ribbon does not shorten like old toolbar so no matter how many button you actually use, the ribbon still takes up that much space. You can hide the ribbon to free up screen space (by double clicking the tab), but it will take you an extra click to reveal the ribbon before you can use any button

    • Pros of the ribbon

      • Look good

      • It’s easy to catch up with the new design, may be even better for first-time learners.

    • Cons

      • Some buttons are allocated according to “Microsoft logic”. Should you unable to find a button, remember to press F1.

  • ‘Cause the menu is gone, the dialog boxes now pop-up when you click the small little arrow (or in the right click menu) dialog. They are mostly intact, which means the find dialog will still appear right in the middle of your screen and block the text you want to find. One thing I like about Firefox: find dialog at the bottom and is designed to fit as a toolbar. You may argue that find dialog is limited. Actually, WordPerfect is the first to arrange a dialog as toolbar and its function is not limited ;)

  • When you right click, there will not just one menu pop up, but twice the fun. It’s the font formatting menu, just a few pixels away from your pointer (it won’t appear if you use the popup menu button on your keyboard, ‘because it would be inconvenience).


  • The LCD-oriented font smoothing technology Clear Type is enabled by default, even when you are not using it. It looks good on LCD screens but people with CRT displays may need to touch the Options (now hidden in the big office button)

  • The reading mode now automatically switches Word to full screen. Logic though, if you concentrate on reading a novel, you don’t need to switch to another application and distracts yourself but what if that is some kind of technical report…

  • Design Science’s Math type (aka Microsoft Equation) is replaced with MathML (for storing) and the new linear syntax (for input), which is what I like most in this new version and should be implemented, say… a decade ago (there have been various plugins since then but they could cause a whole lot nuisance :P). Now I don’t have to Insert / Object / Microsoft Equation, point to the integral, click, type numbers, type x, select the expnonent, type the number but instead Just Insert / Equation and type something like “\int_3^2 3x^5+5/2 x+2dx” and… voilà


    • The math interface is good, though not good like advertised ;) Microsoft claims that anything use MathML will be able to copy and paste equation with Office, I used it with another MICROSOFT product and the result is gabbish

    • The documentation for equation is not yet finished, and except for those who’s familiar with LEX or LATEX, it’s just point-and-click because there’s no hint what’s the linear syntax for a specific symbol (some proposed this for Microsoft though, but they say it’s too late to change the design)

  • The Organization Chart and similar illustrations have been replaced with “Smart Art”, they are not actually “thinking” but they are really well-designed to server their purpose… looking good.

  • The new WordArt looks good too, but it’s another funny thing: Excel’s WordArt is more beautiful than Word’s (above:Excel below:Word)


It's a lot of features, but I’m not using Office 2007 for real though. I often:

  • Use it to compose pages that need a good-looking layout (for web and stuffs)

  • Then save it to the old .doc format. Many computers aren’t equiped with this version though, and due to experience, in anytime soon. Word 2003 is already quite good at what it’s doing and low-end machine in cybercafes aren’t capable of running flashy and shiny stuffs.

That’s all, the sum of my view on the most recent version of Office, hope it helps xD