Outlook 2007

There was real feeding frenzy last week when Microsoft released their latest beta versions of Vista and Office 2007. Just about the entire editorial staff spent the day downloading the files and taking screenshots of each and every screen that dared show itself as we poked and prodded our new plaything.

Over the next several months, and probably for years after it is released, TechRepublic will spend time, energy and editorial staff brain cells explaining, exploring and conquering this latest incarnation of Microsoft juggernauts. But for now, my general impression of Office 2007 boils down to one simple idea: it's pretty much the same as Office 2003.

That is not to say there are improvements. Outlook 2007 has added some much needed features revolving around RSS feeds and task management (I'm a big fan of task lists). And the GUI for all the Office 2007 products is much more intuitive --- I am able to find just about every obscure feature I want without having to consult a Dummies Book, which is a step in the right direction. Microsoft must have placed an emphasis on user interface personnel for this latest development round.

However, in the end, when you look at any Office Suite, they all pretty much do the same thing. I know Microsoft is looking to generate some big revenue numbers next year as organizations and individuals migrate to Office 2007, but I'm not sure that is going to happen. The only way I can see that happening is if business enterprises decide to purchase new PC workstations in mass, each having a license for Vista and Office 2007. I am not convinced that is going to happen in great numbers next year.

I could be wrong, but I do not see a driving force behind such a major capital expenditure. There is no specter of the millennium bug or major change in storage technologies to drive this switch. Am I missing something?