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Microsoft Office 2007: 10 things you need to know

10 burning questions about Office 2007

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.

How does Office relate to Microsoft's recent unified communications release?

Here's one place where the Office System concept comes into play on the back of the recently released Office Communications Server 2007, the Office Communicator client, and Office pieces including Outlook and SharePoint Server 2007, to name a few.

See also: Six problems with Office Communications Server 2007

Presence is a cornerstone, allowing instant access to colleagues and collaborators from any file where a name is visible. Integration with VoIP and the Live Meeting web-conferencing server provides voice and video. The message is that Office on the desktop becomes more feature rich when the back-end servers are introduced to the network.

Why is there so much chatter about SharePoint Server 2007?

Microsoft wants to be a provider of content-management software and this is the vehicle to get there. SharePoint, in fact, is catching on like wildfire in corporations, but it is still used mostly to host team workspaces.
CEO Steve Ballmer, however, last month pegged SharePoint as one of the next billion-dollar businesses for Microsoft.

Look for SharePoint to become a platform for new social-networking features and Web 2.0 add-ons to Office. But buyer beware, SharePoint Server 2007 requires an SQL Server client access licence to support some of SharePoint's features.

The cost of the client access licence can easily push the per-user cost of running SharePoint up by £200-£300, according to Forrester Research.

What is OBA, Duet, Live services?

Microsoft has packed something it calls "Solutions and Services" around Office 2007 and is encouraging partners and customers to tap into back-end systems such as ERP and CRM and extend/customise Office along various avenues such as business process automation.

OBAs, or Office Business Applications, are reference applications with imposing names such as Consumer Engagement Reference Architecture for Health Plans.

Duet is part of the Microsoft/SAP partnership to link Office to SAP. And Microsoft also lumps into this category project management and online services Live Meeting and Office Live. Users can expect to get their hands dirty with most of these extension projects.

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