For awhile there, Microsoft's highly covert operations
surrounding Office "12" seemed to suggest something a little revolutionary
was afoot. You couldn't turn around without smacking into an NDA, and a leaked(albeit flakey) early beta added a hint of espionage.
But now, we're being fed details, the rumble of hype is
growing louder, and the mystique is fading. Microsoft has divulged the
bundling/pricing structure, the official name, and details of the 2,709
individual applications that will make up the 482 packages of the new Office
system. This blog
post by Jason Hiner offers a great breakdown of the Office 2007 components
(okay, not quite 2,709 of them), packaging, and pricing. And I don't mentionthis because Jason's my boss. No really.
So just now, I went ahead and registered for beta 2, after
having been denied entrance to the ultra secret society of beta 1 testers. I
feel a little silly doing it, as though I'm flipping a light switch that's not
wired to anything. But what the hell. I've got that Microsoft Passport, mightas well use it.
I also feel a tiny bubble of dread surfacing somewhere.
Maybe because I'm an Office luddite, resisting and despising many of the
features that arrived with the XP and 2003. (For example, the implementation of
Word's document reviewing features—something many writers and editors live and
die by—took such a thrashing in XP, you have to wonder whether the designchanges were driven by some kind of high stakes Rube Goldberg side bet.)
And I'm not reassured by the carefully dispensed,
meticulously spun scraps of information about Office 2007's new features, enhancements,
and radically rejiggered UI. If the goal is to surface all that functionality
that most users don't know about, I'm really not going to like it. Because I DO
know about the functionality, and I've built and customized and tinkered my way
around Office so it's like a comfortable, nicely broken-in chair. The last
thing I want is for Microsoft to give me an entirely NEW chair—one that, byearly accounts—will be nearly impossible to break in.
But I'm going to reserve judgment, or try to. Maybe I really
will find myself working more efficiently, staying organized, and more easily
collaborating and sharing information using the security-enhanced 2007Microsoft Office system.
Meanwhile, I've been checking out Office 2007 product team blogs
here and there to try to find more facts and less hyperbole. Or at least a more
honest, in-the-trenches grade of hyperbole. I just started in on a collection
Office dev team interview videos. Also I've found some fairly interesting
blogs on this MSDNOffice 12 blogger list.
And you know, I'm sure I'll have my hands on beta 2 before too long. Then we'll see.
Jody Gilbert has been writing and editing technical articles for the past 25 years. She was part of the team that launched TechRepublic and is now senior features editor for Tech Pro Research.