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Office 2007 Training Fears Are Overblown, Microsoft Exec Says

Capossela: New user interface ‘far less of a concern’ than IT managers think

By Carol Sliwa
February 5, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - NEW YORK Many IT managers have voiced concerns that the dramatically different user interface in Microsoft Corp.’s Office 2007 software will force them to plan migrations more carefully than they have had to in the past, with increased end-user training. But during an interview with

Computerworld at last week’s Windows Vista and Office 2007 launch event, Chris Capossela, corporate vice president of the product management group in Microsoft’s business division, insisted that companies won’t have to devise “some big, sophisticated training plan” to roll out the new Office applications. Excerpts follow:

IT managers say they will have to do more strategic planning for their Office 2007 rollouts because of extra training time that needs to be built in. What would you say to companies that are concerned about that?

Chris Capossela
Chris Capossela
Well, we certainly didn’t do this lightly. We’ve been working on how to do this as well as we could for the past three years. We started by unveiling the new user interface many, many, many months ago to make sure people understood there was a big change coming. And then we did dramatically more end-user testing than we’ve done on any other piece of software. ...The feedback we’re getting is that it’s far less of a concern than people think it will be initially.

There are two data points that we talk about. No. 1 is, for your average Office user, we see that it takes them about two days of working with the product before they say, “I’ll never go back.” For your power user — the people who know the ins and outs of Excel, maybe the finance team, or the legal team when it comes to Word — it takes them more like two weeks before they’ll say, “Please don’t ever take this away.”

But that’s not two weeks of no productivity. When they launch the product for the first time, we’ve designed that very first Ribbon so that the vast majority of the common things are right there. It’s literally easy to see: How do I change a font? How do I print a file? How do I open a file? How do I save a file?

For those who haven’t seen Office 2007 yet, can you describe the Ribbon? The Ribbon takes the place of menus and tool bars. You used to have menus that dropped down and tool bars that stacked up on top of each other. Now, the Ribbon is one strip of icons and galleries that you can choose from to author your documents. The vast majority of people — something like 85% of our beta users — said they were going to be far more productive with [Office] 2007 than [Office] 2003.

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