Convincing people to upgrade their Office package is usually a tricky task, but we've got an ace up our sleeve
This article appears as part of the April 07 issue of PC Advisor, available now in all good newsagents
Anyone who's ever seen a Bill Gates keynote will agree that he's hardly the most inspiring speaker. And yet there was a sense of great anticipation when we learned that Microsoft's co-founder and chairman would treat us with his presence at the UK launch of Windows Vista and Office 2007 on 30 January. Many of the press and partners invited to the event at the British Library were slightly sceptical that the great man would appear in the flesh. He'd presented a similar keynote in New York just hours earlier and his 'special guest appearance' at the Windows 95 UK launch had come by way of a satellite link up.
But, after a 30-minute delay (which was quite fitting given the trouble Microsoft had hitting its Vista and Office 2007 release deadlines) the presentation got underway, and Gates appeared. He said that Vista and Office 2007 took Microsoft's two flagship products to a "whole new level" and reminded us that it's been 12 years since his company last released updates for the two flagship products concurrently.
Like a parent who's a little bit too eager to insist they don't have a favourite child, Gates dutifully mentioned both Office 2007 and Vista during his keynote, before devoting far more attention to the latter. He swooned over Microsoft's new OS, and it's easy to see why. Vista's flashy new interface, Media Center features and tighter security make it the perfect topic for discussion at such get-togethers. Convincing people to take notice of a new version of Office, on the other hand, is another matter. While most PC users are aware that each version brings with it handy tools to boost productivity, such advances rarely get the pulse racing.
See for yourself
You really need to see for yourself, and that's what you can do with this month's issue of PC Advisor. In addition to a 14-page feature taking an in-depth look at the components of Office 2007 you're likely to use most often – Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint – our DVD includes a free two-month trial of the full, just-released version of Office 2007 Professional edition.
That means you can install the software and see for yourself how Microsoft's innovative new ribbon toolbar completely revamps the way you control each application. It may not sound like a disruptive change, but in practice it makes Office's core applications far easier to work with. Gone are the menus and toolbars you've had to battle with before, and in comes a dynamic, uncluttered interface that's highly configurable and keeps the most relevant commands in front of you at all times.
Like the Aero interface in Vista, Office's Ribbon has been getting the most attention in the build-up to the consumer release, but there are many more advances that make this particular Office edition worth a look. Each application includes a number of new tools that take the burden out of many day-to-day tasks. Furthermore, if you, like us, are impressed with the new features, upgrading needn't cost you and arm and a leg: the Home and Student Edition is available for £100.
And if new office software doesn't sound like your idea of a good way to spend £100, check out our reviews of the best free alternatives – OpenOffice and Thunderbird included. Whether you're inspired by technology that can save you precious minutes or precious pounds, this month's Office extravaganza should do the trick.