WSJ's Walt Mossberg likes Office 2007

WSJ's Walt Mossberg likes Office 2007

Summary: 've been waiting for Walt Mossberg to weigh in on the about-to-be released 2007 Microsoft Office system (small "s") and he's come out with a review that is classic Mossberg – fair, balanced, and thoughtful. Unlike a lot of the subscriber-only content in the Journal, Walt's columns are available to all and if you're looking for the straight scoop on the new Office from a venerated technology writer, you'll want to read his review which will online tomorrow.

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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I've been waiting for Walt Mossberg to weigh in on the about-to-be released 2007 Microsoft Office system (small "s") and he's come out with a review that is classic Mossberg – fair, balanced, and thoughtful. Unlike a lot of the subscriber-only content in the Journal, Walt's columns are available to all and if you're looking for the straight scoop on the new Office from a venerated technology writer, you'll want to read his review which will online tomorrow.

Here's the choice quote:

After months of working with the Ribbon and other new features of Office, I believe they are an improvement. They replace years of confusing accretions with a logical layout of commands and functions. They add easy and elegant new options for making documents look good. And they make it much simpler to find many of the 1,500 commands that Office offers, but had buried in the past.

So, Microsoft deserves credit for being bold and creative in designing Office 2007. It has taken a good product and made it better and fresher.

But there is a big downside to this gutsy redesign: It requires a steep learning curve that many people might rather avoid. In my own tests, I was cursing the program for weeks because I couldn't find familiar functions and commands, even though Microsoft provides lots of help and guidance.

This is essentially what most considered reviews I've come across have concluded. Office 2007 is a bold roll of the dice and a big win for most people who are mostly concerned with turning out good-looking documents. Power users will be less enchanted with the new UI. 

 

Topic: Microsoft

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5 comments
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  • LOL

    Since when is Walt Mossberg "fair, balanced, and thoughtful"? He is about as anti-MS, suck-up-to-Apple as they get.

    For him to have [b]anything[/b] positive to say about an MS product means it has to be [b]really[/b] good. The worst thing he could come up was the "steep learning curve" straw man argument. Yea, we don't want to change something that is old and archaic to something new and better. No sir, that would be a "down" side.

    As I said, LOL...
    Qbt
  • Walt's right, but he's the Fox News of computing?

    Never known Mossberg to be fair or balanced in any sense, as I've read him trash good programs over the years and as the previous reader noted, reactively praise all things apple. I have no respect for his opinion on anything. However, he's right about Office 07 ? the learning curve and poor proprietary format (OXML) is not worth the upgrade. Of all the reviewers and users (at least according to the MS Office team), apparently I was the only one who knew how to use Word and Excel and could find its features. Everyone else had no idea the the programs had menus, dialogs, toolbars, keyboard shortcuts, and a Help file. I beta-tested Office 2007 with a dozen businesses over 2006 and not a single one by the end of the year said they would be upgrading to it. They cited cost first, but found that their users actually were restricted and persistently frustrated by the new interface, even over time.
    zaine_ridling
  • I guess we;ll have to agree to disagree on this then

    I see no conflict with Walt Mossberg explicitly stating his personal preferences and still doing a good job covering the landscape. It's quite possible to be objective and opinionated at the same time as long as you are clear in what you're expressing. I think you do the guy a serious injustice comparing him to FOX News where the expression of opinion is labeled as objective fact.

    As far as adoption of Office is concerned, my experience working with a number of small business customers is almost the inverse of what you're reporting. The majority of the organizations I've been working with agree that the new version [1]will[/i] require some training but the results will be well worth the investment.

    At a number of these organizations, we did a document makeover workshop to expose the participants to the new features and presentation in Office 2007. The results were impressive. In almost every case, the new version of the document was better looking, more communicative, and more persuasive than the original.

    Enterprise adoption will be slow but it's also inevitable as SA upgrades roll over. There's not much room for MS, or IBM for that matter, to grow at the large end of the market - they end up poaching from each other and worry about attrition to Google and open source. The growth market for both companies lies downstream and that's why you see both companies focusing a lot of effort at the SMB market. MS is hoping that their recent moves with Small Business Server, Small Business Accounting (now free), and Office Live, combined with the releases of Vista and Office 2007, will create a wave of upgrades and new seats from smaller organizations.
    morchant
  • Gosh, such strong opinions

    I think what Mossberg was communicating is there are trade-offs. You get the new interface which provides help to users in finding features of Office that will make their documents look better, on the one hand. On the other, it makes it harder for those already used to the way Office used to work. Those are just the realities. It isn't fair. I think Mossberg would do a disservice to his readers to leave these details out.

    As to him sucking up to anything Apple, I think he has high standards from a technology user perspective. Mossberg is not a techie who gets off on the technical specs. He likes a technology if he gets a sense that it genuinely enhances someone's life, enables them to do something easily that they could not do before. When it comes to technology that's a tall order. It's difficult to do. I agree that if Mossberg gave Office 2007 a good review, that means it's really good and worth a look.

    I think the allusions to Fox News in these comments are gratuitous and totally off topic. I'll leave it at that.
    Mark Miller
    • Thanks for that Mark

      I really appreciate you chiming in with such a reasonable and well-stated opinion. And I agree with your assessment of the standards Mossberg holds the technologies he reviews up to. I've only had the pleasure of meeting him once (at a very crowded DEMO conference) but in the brief chat we had, we discussed Tablet PCs, the imminent demise of unconnected PDAs, and the inevitable convergence of web services and mobile devices. He had well-informed and well-formed opinions on each of those topics.
      morchant