Can Microsoft Office be hip?

Microsoft's Mac Business Unit on Tuesday unveiled Art of Office, a new user-generated community site. Who are they kidding?

Microsoft's Mac Business Unit on Tuesday unveiled Art of Office, a new user-generated community site. The company's blog stated that the site is a "fun way to show unique applications of our product and helps people think of Mac Office in ways they may not have thought of before."

Art of Office
The group appears to have hired a number of artists to post some work that takes advantage of various features of Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

For example, in Postcards From Invisible, Utah, Zeus Jones weaves a story around images in postcard format by Mark Mothersbaugh. It's about a man searching for his missing daughter. The document (the download is in .DOC format) points out several layout options available in Word, including the layering elements.

The site warns users to "be cool" about responding to the art works. "Art of Office thrives on the spirit of openness and civility. Criticism and feedback are welcome from people who behave nicely and add value."

Postcards From Invisible, Utah
So don't diss that pie chart.

I can't tell if this site is a shot at Apple, which just came out with its very-graphical iWork '08 suite or at Adobe, which pushes PDF as a vehicle for document distribution. Of course, the stuff on the Art of Office site are all in the respective MS Office formats.

However effective the site may be in showcasing the hidden capabilities of Office, Microsoft's continuing problem with Office that people have trouble using the everyday features.

Two people this very day asked me for help with tasks. First, my father had trouble formatting page numbers in a long document. And then another person called about how to paste and format a table pasted into Word.

My father said that things were much simpler in Word Perfect. Oh, how true.