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Microsoft Windows Office 2007 Beta 2 Technical Refresh

Microsoft has been slowly releasing updated versions of Windows Vista, Internet Explorer 7 and, on September 14, Microsoft Office 2007. Redmond continues to play name games with its betas: While the last iteration of Office was officially designated Microsoft Office Beta 2, the latest version to hit the Net has been dubbed Microsoft Office 2007 Beta 2 Technical Refresh, or B2TR for short. And while this isn't as radical an update as its predecessor was, B2TR does have a few new angles that are worth exploring. (You can find a full report on the features in Beta 2 in Review: 2007 Microsoft Office Beta 2 Is Up And Running.)

I'd like to start by pointing out that Office is getting a lot closer to the finish line. It's pretty much feature-steady at this point, although they are obviously still making adjustments here and there. In general, Microsoft says that this iteration is faster and more reliable, something I'll have to take the vendor's word for, since I didn't have a whole lot of problems with the Beta 2 version. It's also integrated more thoroughly with Microsoft's Windows Desktop Search tool.

Winding Up The Ribbon
Of course, the main focus of everyone's attention is still the new User Interface (UI); more specifically, the new Ribbon, which has replaced Office's more familiar toolbars. There has been a lot of moaning among Office aficionados about the fact that you can't add or delete features to suit your needs and that it takes too much space away from the work area. Microsoft is very cognizant of this; it made some adjustments in Beta 2 and has added a few refinements in B2TR.

To suit those of us who like to have our most-used features immediately available, there is a Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) which can sit in various parts of the window and to which users can add whatever commands they want easily available. This isn't new to Office 2007; what is new is a drop-down menu that appears when you click on the down arrow in the Quick Access Toolbar, and which offers a checklist of what Microsoft has determined are the features most likely to be added, such as New, Save, E-Mail, and Quick Print.

Click image to enlarge.
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