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Jewish World Review
August 11, 2006
/ 17 Menachem-Av, 5766
Microsoft Office 2007 Beta shows promise
I am looking at the future, and on the PC these words are first being
written with, it's not in Times New Roman. Instead it appears in something
called "Calibri," which Microsoft Corp. believes will be easier on the
eyes than the old default Word typeface, which has serifs, what the
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines "...short lines stemming from
and at an angle to the upper and lower ends of the strokes of a letter."
The typeface in this newspaper - and this newspaper's Web site - uses
serifs. Calibri, definitely, does not.
That's a small distinction, I am sure, and one which may not matter much
to many readers. And, if you click on the "Font" panel atop the screen,
you can switch over to Times New Roman, or any of a dozen other typefaces,
without hassle. But it's the first thing that hits as you begin to type
with Microsoft Word 2007, and it'll take some getting used to, I think.
Less surprising is the clean, crisp look of the Word screen, with a
quick-access toolbar at the very top, and then a palette of choices below.
The choices are grouped in "tabbed" menus: "Home" will show you the
clipboard, font, paragraph, style and editing menus; there are other tabs
to determine the insertion of text, tables and graphics; page layout;
references; mail merge and envelopes; document review and a "view" menu
that offers a host of options. I had to do some searching to find the
"e-mail this document" option; the "File" menu is now a circle with the
Office logo in it. Feh.
In most cases, all of these work quite well: I can't recall any other word
processor, in roughly 23 years of using such programs, that offers as many
reference options, and as easily, as this one does. Scholars, attorneys,
and their associates, will likely rejoice at this development. Term papers
and other documents should be a breeze with this sort of tool
availability; it's very impressive.
The other editing tools are equally impressive, however the "zoom" panel
requires more than one step to enlarge text on a screen to the width of
the page, something aging "Baby Boomers" may want in lieu of stronger
eyewear prescriptions. On closer inspection, there's a small "slider" in
the lower right corner that'll adjust type size from 10 percent to 500
percent; at settings above the page width, however, the text won't "wrap"
to fit the screen, but rather scroll back and forth as you type. Dramamine
might not be a bad option here.
The layout of the program screen is duplicated across the Office 2007
program range, with similar appearances found in the firm's 2007 versions
of PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook and Access. It'll take some getting used to,
I guess, but it all seems fresher and brighter than the long-in-the-tooth
Windows versions users have struggled with over the years.
I have the feeling that I'll like PowerPoint's new incarnation. It seems a
bit friendlier and the "default" layouts are fresh. Apple's "Keynote" it's
not, but terms of approach and ease of use, it certainly seems better.
Ditto for Excel, although I suspect spreadsheet aficionados will rejoice
even more than I am doing.
There's one final surprise - Word 2007's "default" file format is not
backwards compatible, or cross-platform friendly to Mac versions of Word.
Those who want to share files with non-2007 users will need to save them
in an "older" format. Ironically, when such files are opened on another
computer, the Times New Roman type face returns as the "default."
You can find out more about Office 2007 at
http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/default.mspx, and, despite the
occasional surprise, I believe this is one new program worth checking out.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.
© 2006, News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com