Review and Visual Tour: Microsoft's 2007 Office Beta 2

Word menus and toolbars are now 'ribbons'

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The new version of Outlook adds a host of useful features. Parts of Outlook work better together: You've always been able to flag e-mails for follow-up, but now you can right-click on the flag icon and the message is automatically added to your list of tasks to be completed.

If you depend on Outlook calendars, you'll be pleased to see support for multiple calendars (see Figure 8), including a side-by-side view (see Figure 9) that helps you compare your schedule with that of one or more colleagues or calendars on the Web that are available for sharing.


Figure 8: Multiple calendars side by side.

(Click image to see larger view)


Figure 9: The same calendars in the new, integrated view.

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Below the calendar is a new task view that includes your appointments and tasks sorted by day. The new To-Do bar integrates a calendar, upcoming appointments and a list of tasks into a single panel (see Figure 10).


Figure 10: Outlook's new To-Do bar.

Several third-party tools incorporate RSS feeds into Outlook, so new feed items appear as new messages in Outlook. You won't need outside tools or a separate RSS feed reader; Outlook 2007 now supports RSS feeds directly (see Figure 11).


Figure 11: Outlook 2007 now incorporates RSS feeds,so new

RSS items will appear in your personal folder hierarchy.

(Click image to see larger view)

Among the other changes in this version: Outlook has a new Instant Search that lets you locate information in e-mail messages, your contacts, tasks or calendar items. Thank heavens! If you organize your e-mail into folders (by project or contact name, for example) and also use other Outlook features such as contacts and the calendar, you're surely tired of Outlook's inability to easily search through multiple types of folders at once.

Search is also much faster because Outlook now indexes messages and attachments, as well as calendar, contact and task information.

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