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Review: 2007 Microsoft Office Beta 2 Is Up And Running

It's been a while since Microsoft's Office suite, the collection of software applications that a large percentage of today's workers use on a daily basis, has had a major overhaul. Redmond brought out Beta 1 of the new collection last November; now Beta 2 is out. The new version (officially called 2007 Microsoft Office, with the year before the name) has added several features to the previous iteration and has firmed up many of the features that didn't work properly in Beta 1. In addition, Microsoft has put together the various packages that will make up its Office suite collection -- seven in all.


Review: 2007 Office Beta 2


•  Introduction

•  Packages And Pricing

•  Inspecting The Interface

•  More Interface Fun


•  Open XML And Conclusions


•  Image Gallery

Depending on which version you choose, Office will include the basic applications that we've all come to know and (some of us, anyway) love, such as Word for word processing, Excel for spreadsheets, Access for databases, Outlook for e-mail and personal information management, and PowerPoint for presentation viewing and creating. Other available apps include Communicator (instant messaging), InfoPath (forms), OneNote (a notekeeping/journal app), and Publisher (desktop publishing).

Most of the improvements in the existing applications were detailed in our November review of Beta 1, "First Look: Microsoft Office 12 Beta 1."

A new addition since then is Office Groove, the result of Microsoft's 2005 acquisition of Groove Networks. Groove revolves around the concept of "collaborative work spaces," shared places where teams can work on documents, have threaded discussions, share schedules, and track who is working on what when. It is a simple and easily understood application that works very much like a traditional instant messaging product -- you have a list of contacts whom you can invite to a workspace using a Launchbar that lists your active, online, and offline contacts. There, they can access shared files, draw together on sketchbook pages, have a text or audio chat, and even have an online meeting.



Click image to enlarge and launch image gallery.
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