Office+Vista+Exchange = PARTY! (and sore horse)

Get out and vote! Only then can you read IT Blogwatch, in which Office 2007 goes gold, ready for its coming out party, shared with Vista and Exchange. Not to mention the datacenter building contractors who forgot one of their saw horses...

Elizabeth Montalbano gives us the info.:

After years of waiting, U.S. business customers will finally have a chance to get their hands on Windows Vista and Office 2007 when Microsoft Corp. launches the products on Nov. 30 in New York ... Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 also will be released to business customers at the event ... held at the Nasdaq Stock Market in midtown Manhattan and the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square.

Microsoft will launch the products in Canada slightly earlier than in the U.S. ... Microsoft will hold New Day for Business events throughout Canada, starting in Edmonton, Alberta, on Nov. 23.

Eric Lai and Richard Ericson have more:

Microsoft Corp. today confirmed that it has completed work on the system code for Office 2007 and released it to manufacturing. Customers in Canada and the U.S. can start downloading Office 2007 on Dec. 1. That is one day after the company plans to officially launch the updated productivity suite, along with the Windows Vista operating system and the Exchange Server 2007 communications software in New York. Customers in another 13 countries will be able to download free, 60-day trial versions "soon" after the beginning of December, according to a Microsoft spokeswoman, who declined to give further details.

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Customers won't be able to find Office 2007 on retail store shelves or get it preinstalled on PCs until early 2007 ... That timetable means Microsoft is missing what many consider to be the key holiday shopping season. Like Windows Vista, Office 2007 will be available to corporate volume license customers via Web or on CD starting Nov. 30.

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Office 2007 includes a revamped user interface, greater support for non-English languages and more collaboration tools. It has been marked by controversy over a significantly revamped interface in many of the application's familiar menus and toolbars, which have been replaced with Ribbon, a colorful tabbed bar divided into groups of icons and buttons organized by task. (See "The Lowdown on Office 2007" for an in-depth review and visual tour of the suite's new interface.)

Harry McCracken makes like a rabbit:

It startles me to say this, but the upcoming Microsoft product I'm most excited about isn't Zune or Windows Vista--it's Office 2007. Office suite upgrades have been so mundane for so long--there's no more mature software category on the planet--that I kind of expected we'd never see another one that was more than moderately interesting. But Office 2007 is a great big deal ... I'm just plain impressed with the extent to which Microsoft has made it easier to get the Office apps to do everything they're capable of. Certain computer magazines have been known to mock the very idea of Microsoft innovation, but Office 2007 is one of the most genuinely innovative pieces of software I've used in a long time.

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It's always staggered me how difficult it is to get tabular information from Excel into PowerPoint without formatting hassles. (How long has the company had to make this presumably rather common task easy?) In Office 2007, it works just fine.

I don't mean to suggest that the new suite is a slam dunk. People ... may not find the cost and learning curve worth it. On the other end of the spectrum, Office gurus ... may be frustrated ... And it's yet to be seen whether Microsoft's new XML-based file formats will matter ... the simplest way to spare your coworkers headaches is to save your stuff in the old, pervasive file formats.

David Sengupta adds the "collaboration" perspective:

This, of course, includes Outlook 2007, which gains several interesting new features when used with Exchange 2007, including ... automatic account setup ... substantially enhanced free/busy calendaring experience ... managed folders ... improved Out of Office ... improved search ... new meeting Scheduling Assistant ... unified messaging.

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Organizations considering Exchange 2007 will need to also consider deploying Outlook 2007 concurrent with or soon after their Exchange 2007 migration.

Paul Thurrott has screenshots:

Microsoft is touting Office 2007, in tandem with upcoming products such as Windows Vista and Exchange Server 2007, as the linchpin of a new round in corporate spending ... Microsoft had previously announced its Office Technology Guarantee program, which allows customers who purchase new PC with Office 2003 preloaded between October 26, 2006 and March 15, 2007 to receive free or inexpensive upgrades to similar Office 2007 product versions. Details about these so-called cross-grades are available through PC makers. These screenshots depict the Trial version of the final shipping version of Office 2007 Enterprise.

Ken Fisher runs the numbers:

It's hard to overstate the importance of Microsoft Office for the Redmond Giant's well-being. The company's business unit is powered by Office profits, which account for more than 90 percent of that division's haul (a haul that totaled $3.4 billion in gross revenue in the quarter closed September 30). Office prints money in a way unmatched by almost any other software product. Notable colleague at Cash Cow University: Windows, of course.

Microsoft is looking forward to another three or four years of strong Office revenues with the release of this newest "system" (the official name is 2007 Microsoft Office System), but as usual the company will have to battle increasing complacency in the market. Do you need Office 2007? We've been intrigued by the new user interface features, but a new UI isn't likely to sell Office to the all-important business crowd. The user interface change has also led many to worry that extensive training will be required to use the new suite, although Microsoft contends that Office 2007 is the most intuitive release yet.

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So will Office 2007 churn out the gold for Microsoft? You bet it will. It won't be a windfall, however, and this time there's more at risk. Not only is OpenOffice that much more mature than it was when Office 2003 launched, but now Google is hot on the trail with its own developing "office suite," and they're playing it smart by creating an API for it.

Buffer overflow:

Around the Net Around Computerworld Previously in IT Blogwatch

And finally... It Doubles as a Saw Horse

Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at blogwatch@richij.com.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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