When Frogs Fly

Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve never been a Microsoft fan. I’ve considered their products derivative and their business practices despicable. Office was a response to Lotus SmartSuite and Outlook has always been stuck at Notes Release 3 in terms of user interface. Meanwhile, Microsoft to this day is still trying to kill what remains of the Notes/Domino customer base despite the fact that the remaining base is simply IBM customers who will never ever convert to Exchange.

But I am completely and totally blown away by the blogging support in Microsoft Word 2007. I’m writing this post in Word 2007 and the support for my blog — from uploading graphics to category support — is superior. Finally, finally, they’ve nailed something inventive. Now, you can comfortably write and edit posts in Word, the de facto standard word processor.

This ain’t just pigs flying for me — it’s freakin’ flying frogs. (If you’ve never had the opportunity to make a kid giggle while reading Tuesday by David Wiesner go out right now buy the book and find a three to five year old to read it to. )

A bit of background: I’ve been worried about Office 2007 for quite some time. I’m an expert user of Office and the idea of the ribbon bothers me. For example, I actually rely on customized toolbars. Except for Outlook 2007, that capability has been removed in Office 2007. Also, there’s a lot of eye candy in Office 2007. I’m no neo-Luddite, but I actually worried about losing my expertise or, worse, having to essentially re-learn all the tricks I rely on every day. From Shift-F7 in Word to open the thesaurus to Ctrl-1 in Excel to format a cell, I simply didn’t want to have to change.

So, just to see how bad it would be (after all, if Microsoft says you want to use their new suite, it’s less an invitation than a command. Eventually, you pretty much have to do as you’re told when it comes to what Microsoft wants from you.), I set up a WinXP virtual machine and downloaded the 60-day trial of Office 2007 Professional.

And though I expected to be truly pissed off at the ribbon, the loss of desktop real estate and what I suspected would be poor performance, I am actually blown away. For me, blogging support in Word means that my clients as well as I can write more “comfortably” than ever. RSS support in Outlook is my other I’ve-been-using-it-for-two-hours new feature.

Bottom line: Microsoft often gets criticism for not offering compelling features for upgrades of Office. That’s why I have a client still on Office 97. But this time, Microsoft is getting my (ouch!) $300 for a shiny new copy of Office 2007.






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