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Microsoft Office – Download – Office 2007 is now retired
Download offers the opportunity to buy software and apps. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission. The ambitious, ground-up rebuild of Microsoft Office Standard presents drastically different interfaces and new file formats. The new Office looks so unlike its predecessors, it’s likely to spark intense love-hate responses from users. This upgrade isn’t for everyone: If you’re patient, eager to try the latest tools, and willing to relearn most of what you already know about Office, then you may relish the challenge of Microsoft Office Word, Excel, and PowerPoint can produce more-polished documents and presentations, and Outlook’s new scheduling abilities make it a handier communications hub.
Professionals who want to impress clients and co-workers with attractive reports, charts, and slide shows will find this a worthy upgrade. First-time Office users may have an easier time than veteran users getting their bearings. However, if you only use a small fraction of what Office offers or you felt that getting the hang of Office was painful enough, then you might want to leave Office on the shelf or try it free for two months first. We imagine that power users who have mastered the nooks and crannies of the older versions will curse the steep learning curve.
But take heed: The new era of Office affects even those who don’t upgrade, and a conversion tool is needed to let older Office versions open Office ‘s default, Open XML files. Office does offer complex features that you can’t yet find elsewhere. However, it also falls short in key areas. Integration among the applications isn’t as thorough as we’d hoped, and there’s no one-click way to collaborate with others on an edit without buying Microsoft’s Groove online collaboration tool or working within a server setting.
The advent of Office comes as a growing number of competing tools are simpler, cost less if they aren’t free , and handle the same core features. Oddly, despite its bevy of Windows Live and Office Live services, Microsoft chose not to build a bridge to the Web for all Office users. This suite includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook in addition to Office Tools that manage language settings and pictures and include a diagnostics tool for use in the event of a crash.
The Basic package, with Word, Excel, and Outlook, only comes pre-installed on computers sold by manufacturers that have Microsoft software licensing agreements. And oddly both the Enterprise and Professional Plus editions lack the Business Contact Manager component of Outlook, which corporate users might want for their marketing efforts.
Setup Breezing through the options, our fastest installation of Microsoft Office Standard took no more than 20 minutes on a Windows XP computer. However, settle into your chair if you’re curious about the fine print. We spent 40 minutes just skimming the 10,word End User License Agreement and stopped before we could understand it all. Here are some of the highlights: You’re allowed to install Office software on two computers; you must agree to download updates whenever Microsoft decides you need them; and Microsoft may verify your license key at any time to make sure that you’re not using pirated software.
We wished that Microsoft better explained the Internet-based services Office can connect to. When we chose to Customize the installation on another PC, the process was more involved. It’s too bad that while this process lets you handpick which items to install, it doesn’t explain what you’ll miss if you reject, say, Office Tools. And while Microsoft displays your available hard drive space as well as how much of that is needed by your selected set of applications, there’s no indication of the size of each individual application and you’re left to your subtraction skills here.
In the end, we installed everything available. From that point on, loading the Office suite onto our hard drive took 15 minutes flat. Office Standard is smaller than its predecessors, at about 3GB. Unlike the Windows Vista operating system , the new Office does not demand the newest hardware.
However, of course, this rules out those still using older versions of Windows. Although the terms of the EULA were less than transparent, we were pleased that Microsoft offered the least intrusive installation settings by default. For example, Privacy Options leaves it up to users to hook up to online Help automatically, as well as to download a file that continually tracks system problems.
No Office shortcuts appeared on our desktop or in our system tray, either. The Office Shortcut Bar–a feature that disappeared in the version–is back, located within the Office Tools menu. Interface Once you open each Office application, you’ll see a radically different, blue interface that’s brighter than in the past.
Word, Excel, and PowerPoint arrange features within a tabbed Ribbon toolbar that largely replaces the gray drop-down menus and dialog boxes from a quarter-century of Office software. The Office logo menu, docked in the upper left corner, bundles many commands from the old File and Edit menus. Outlook lacks the logo button and adopts the Ribbon only within its message composition and scheduling windows. There’s a core set of always-on tabs, as well as contextual tabs that hide until the software detects that you need them.
For instance, the Picture Tools Format tab only shows up when you click on an image. We were stumped at first about how to format images, tables, and charts until we got used to clicking on them first. The Office programs, which share a new graphics engine, strongly emphasize ways to decorate documents. Pull-down Style Galleries let you preview how new fonts, color themes, chart styles, images and such appear before you apply the change.
This is great for selecting from menus of fonts or page templates. At the same time, however, the “intelligent” shape-shifting may bewilder those who don’t realize that they must click a style to apply a formatting change. In most cases, the preformatted styles only present colors within the same range already used by your document.
And sometimes the pull-down galleries jut into the document and obscure the charts or images you’re trying to change, and you can’t turn them off. Nor do the dynamic previews apply to all style elements. For example, from the Page Layout tab of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, you can preview Themes of colors and templates by mousing over them.
But the Page Borders option takes you to an unhelpful, old-school pop-up box without dynamic previews. On the one hand, newbies to Office software, particularly young, visual learners, may find the interface easier to master than Office Icons label most of the commands, and many expand into pull-down menus.
There are inconsistencies, though, such as buttons that open older dialog boxes. And many items have moved to places that we don’t find intuitive. For instance, the dictionary and thesaurus in Word are under the Review tab, not References near the footnote and bibliography buttons. Notice a pattern? Although the Home tab houses many frequently used features, it’s not the first place we look for them. After more than a year of alternating between Office and test versions of Office , we still found it hard to break old habits.
Microsoft advertises the Ribbon’s ability to help you “browse, pick, and click. Rather than piling on more features–Word alone had some 1, commands–Microsoft attempted to better show off functions that already existed.
To some extent, the Ribbon meets this goal, as it’s easier to find Conditional Formatting in Excel, among other sophisticated tools. And the View tab in Word and Excel better provides options for viewing two or three open documents at once. You can customize Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to some extent, such as by adding buttons to the small, Quick Access Toolbar, but not as much as with their predecessors.
Luckily, keyboard shortcuts remain the same; just press ALT at any time to see tiny “badges” that label the quick keys for the Ribbon’s commands. We like that you can hide the Ribbon by double-clicking on any tab. Plus, Microsoft has killed Clippy, the annoying animated pop-up assistant that would interrupt your work in Office A subtle new quick formatting toolbar in Word fades in and out near your cursor. Overall, our favorite interface tweak is the slider bar in the lower right corner that lets you zoom in and out with ease.
Features Many of the changes to Office feel skin deep. By that, we mean that there’s a strong emphasis on making documents, spreadsheets, and presentations easier on the eyes. You can adjust the brightness of images, for instance, and add 3D effects such as drop shadows and glows to pictures and charts.
And many of the features that might appear new are simply easier to stumble upon in the new interface. The useful Document Inspector provides old and new ways to clean up hidden metadata in files.
But don’t expect too many new features. Word offers some basic tools that you’d otherwise look to in desktop publishing programs such as Microsoft Publisher or Adobe InDesign. A host of new templates as well as preformatted styles and SmartArt diagrams let you dress up reports, flyers, and so on with images and charts. However, you can’t precisely control the placement of design elements on the page as you can with professional publishing software. And for wordsmiths who just work with plain old text, there’s little need to upgrade.
There’s a new method of comparing document drafts side by side, but you still can’t post a password-protected file to the Web without having Groove or server tools.
At the same time, academic researchers should appreciate the Review tab’s handy pull-down menus of footnotes, citations, and tables of content. And Word’s new blogging abilities might be handy, but even its cleaned-up HTML is far more cluttered than we’d like. We find that the Ribbon layout in Excel improves its usefulness for working with complex spreadsheets. For instance, scientists and other researchers can access all the formulas in handy pull-down menus. You can make deeper data sorts and work with as many as a million rows.
It’s easier to find the Conditional Formatting for drawing heat maps or adding icons in order to display data patterns. Plus, along with the other glossier graphics throughout Office, Excel charts get a facelift. You’ll probably want to upgrade to PowerPoint if you frequently depend upon professional-looking slide shows to help close a deal. The new template themes are more attractive and less flat-looking than those of the past, although there’s little new in the way of managing multimedia content.
Among the four applications in Office Standard, Outlook provides the most practical improvements. To start, it lets you drag tasks and e-mail messages to the calendar, a long-awaited feature that makes scheduling more simple. The new To-Do Bar’s task and calendar overview and the ability to flag an e-mail for follow up at a specific time are terrific for time management. Outlook’s built-in RSS reader is useful if you manage lots of news feeds, but we were disappointed that it matches up only with RSS feeds in Internet Explorer 7 and not other browsers.
We also wish there were a simpler way of organizing e-mail messages than in nested folders and Search Folders. Tagging messages by subject might be nice, as Gmail allows.
The new Instant Search–which lets you troll through e-mail messages, calendar entries, to-do items, and contacts–improves upon Outlook ‘s clutzy lookups. Plus, Outlook’s new protection against junk mail and phishing scams disables suspicious links. But Outlook uses Word ‘s HTML standards rather than those of Internet Explorer 7 , which could make some of your newsletters look lopsided when compared with their appearance in Outlook