Office 2007 rocks – except for the packaging strategy

Tim Danton’s recent editorial in PC Pro has been picked up by Dennis Howlett (AccMan Pro) and Matt Aslett (Computer Business). Interestingly both chose to focus on Microsoft preventing publishers from including open source software on the same CD/DVD as the Office 2007 Beta.

The bit that interested me was Tim’s assertion that the open source movement will remain a ghetto because, despite its assertions to the contrary, it wants to. He cites The GIMP as an example that is designed to scare off newcomers and imagines open source enthusiasts responding “but that’s the point”. Open source is far from being an acceptable alternative for most consumers and businesses. It is simply far too much like hard work compared to commercial alternatives from Microsoft and others.

The new Office 2007 rocks and my main criticism would be the bundling structure. The bundle that I need is Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Brilliant, that bundle exists and only costs $149. A reasonable price for software that we will use every single day. Except that it’s the Home and Student edition so I imagine we would be breaching the licence terms to use it in a business.

The standard edition is $399 and doesn’t include OneNote, but does Outlook which might be OK for big enterprises but is useless for small businesses. The small business and professional editions get even more expensive and bundle even more programs that are even less useful (Access and Business Contact Manager). You have to go to the ultimate edition at $679 before OneNote is included.

That means we need to pay $399 for software that we won’t use and then an additional $99 to get OneNote. That can’t be right. I’m not even clear if small businesses can’t use the Home and Student edition, as I can’t find an explanation of the licence terms.


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About Stuart Bruce

International communications consultant and PR trainer specialising in online public affairs, digital corporate communications, online PR and social media; frequent national media commentator and conference speaker.
  • http://www.leehopkins.net Lee

    G'day Stuart,

    Much as I like 2007, I am sorely tempted to return to 2003, except that OneNote is sooooo bloody good in the 2007 version that it won't work unless the rest of the 2007 package is there (which is a bugger!). But I'm finding 2007 Outlook, Word, PPoint etc very slow to load and operate (Outlook has the odd crash/freeze).

    Plus — and I may be the only person in the world to find this — the new Word ribbon bar is mind-numbingly hard to navigate around compared to the old File, Edit, Format etc toolbar. I find myself jumping all over the place (ergonomically), which wastes lots of time.

    The other day I lost about a day's worth of productivity on a client PowerPoint presentation because I was jumping all over the place trying to find which ribbon option had the particular tool I wanted (and it wasn't clear at all).

    Love some of the new stuff you can do in Office2007 — especially OneNote which just rocks with a capital 'R' — but hate the ribbon bar and the fact that you can't get rid of it and bring back the old top toolbar.

  • Mike

    The ribbon has got to be one of the worst user interface ideas I've seen — I can't get anything productive done with it.

    And I expect it will only get worse if they stick with it in future versions. No doubt they will add new features, which means the ribbon will either grow vertically, consuming even more screen real estate than it already does, or they'll have to hide some of the features currently exposed on the ribbon into some hidden menu in order to make room for the new ones – and once again, users will have to waste valuable time rediscovering where the things they actually use have been stuffed away to make room for the new stuff they don't need but which Microsoft thinks should be front and centre.

    With the old menu/toolbar structures, we could find things in a logical organized structure, and we could even rearrange them to fit with how we could most efficiently work. Evidently, though, productivity is no longer as important as looking shiny and new.

    They may make me use 2007 at work, but this new [ef]Fluent interface will NOT be tainting my home PCs.