It's hard to believe that it's almost a year since we were immersed in our review of Microsoft Office 2007. Microsoft was about to release Office 2007 to corporate users, and so began the slow and methodical evaluation of the software by the unwashed masses (unless, of course, you were an early adopter, a PC Advisor reader or both). Here are 10 questions that you should ask before you decide to upgrade.
What is so different about Microsoft Office 2007?
Well, this isn't your father's office suite. Office 2007, or what Microsoft calls the Office System, comes in eight versions and contains 15 programs, eight servers and seven services or add-ons.
Users don't have to buy or deploy all those pieces, but the days of the Word-Excel-PowerPoint-Access bundle now seem quaint by comparison. With the Office 2007 suite, users can set up content management, integrate with online services, deploy real-time communication tools and other infrastructures using Office system pieces. That means Office is no longer a desktop decision made by the desktop team. It is also an infrastructure decision that ultimately involves IT. And it is a path that must include consideration of how it will integrate with third-party vendors, especially when deployments hit the VoIP level.
What's also different in the interface, most notably the ribbon, which presents commands organised into a set of tabs. The tabs change on the ribbon to display the commands that are most relevant for the specific Office application open on the desktop.
What does this change mean?
Training issues. Be forewarned.
Why so many versions and what do they cost?
Office is no longer one size fits all. Microsoft has customized SKUs to meet specific demands and hopefully stimulate sales. Here are the versions and their prices: Basic 2007 (no price quote, only available through OEMs), Home and Student (£99, with no upgrade option), Standard (£330), Small Business Edition (£349), Professional 2007 (£399), Ultimate 2007 (£499), Professional Plus 2007 (volume licensing sales only), Enterprise 2007 (volume licensing sales only).
Are there other licensing considerations?
Yes, all of the Office servers, all of the web-access clients (Communicator, Outlook and Project), and the Groove client are available only via volume licensing contracts. Also users will need Software Assurance contracts to have access to the new Office Enterprise 2007 and Office Professional Plus 2007. The main difference between the two bundles is the inclusion of Office Groove in the Enterprise Edition. Both will ship with the Office Communicator client for instant messaging and real-time communications, including VoIP.
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