Office 12

One of the “perks” of my new job is I have access to a lot of MS stuff that’s not yet released. I got a hold of a copy of Office 12 the other day.

First impressions, after using it for an hour or so this morning… is, wow! OpenOffice has A LOT of catching up (although it’s still free and totally funcitonal – but OO isn’t even a contender anymore if you have money). They’ve finally added Save As PDF to every application which is about 80% of the reason most people I know use Open Office.

Word: makes creating really professional looking documents unbelievably easy. The default save format is still binary mumble jumble but they have an option to save as XML – which is human readable. Their HTML is still a horror show, but that’s kind of to be expected when saving really rich content to HTML. Good enough for quick reports.

Excel: I still consider Excel to be one of the best applications ever developed and it’s pretty sweet in O12. Lot’s of cool formating options. They have some neto-burrito tracing options that allow you to see what cells are in what formulas and what formulas effect what cells. One thing I couldn’t figure out was where the Record Macro was or how to get to “vba” type code features which I’ve heard support C# now.

Excel 12 with forumla trace features

Access: I’m a big fan of Access despite what all the geeks say. Access is the best portable, easy to use DB I’ve come across and is perfect for small web site work. If you need to put a DB on a CD and ship it to Mom for her recipe entrees Access is about as good as it gets. For the non-DBA crowd it makes data accessible. Anyway – Access 12 is REALLY nice. Maybe my favorite part of O12. They finally have an Access viewer (meaning you can use access without a full blown copy of O12 – sweet! – makes working with impoverished clients even easier). You can export just about anything to PDF. They’ve made querying data even easier.

Web integration: By far the coolest part of O12 is it’s integration with the web. I went to “import from web” in both Excel and Access, went to Kat’s archives page which is a fugly data grid nightmare, and the wizard (no paper clips, THANK GOD) showed all the data elements on the page. I chose “archive table” and, viola, I had that table, with links, in Excel and Access. I could then export that to PDF and the links all work from PDF as well. Sweet! This will save countless hours for us web monkeys.

Snapshot of O12:Acess in action

Power Point: still makes people stupid. It’s still full of tons of features to allow CEO’s and other know-nothings to make complete asses of themselves. :)

Outlook: geeks don’t use outlook… where’s the O12-Gmail implementation?

Publisher: looks really cool. The templates rock. Create brochure ware web sites in minutes, business cards, etc. I’ve never really used Publisher so I can’t say much about what’s new in O12.

Still left to review: While the list above, for one hours use, is pretty impressive, I think the thing about O12 that will keep MS the dominant app in the business world is it’s Office Server. Supposedly this will let you share, in real time, all applications and data over the web and integrate all docs into share point – which will make doing robust corporate intranets that are really useable a breeze. I know SharePoint does some of this now but I haven’t used SharePoint yet (prefer to stick to more luddite technologies that aren’t licensed up the wazoo).

Anyway – nice to see that MS finally is about to release something that’s actually worth upgrading to. Kudos to the boys in Blue and Orange. O12 is a really cool product – and this is coming from someone who really dislikes MS.


mattFebruary 22nd, 2006 at 9:24 pm

Nice write-up. I probably won’t get my hands on it unless I pay for it myself, which isn’t going to happen. OO works great for my needs in any case.

I haven’t been an Office power user since I was doing tech writing, at which time Word was my mortal enemy and cell-mate in hell. Did they fix the pathetically broken design and implementation of the bullets and numbering in Word? It still plagues me on a fairly regular basis.

We got a SharePoint license bundled with a 2003 Small Business Server we bought and we used it for a few months as an intranet. It’s a real piece of shit. We use a wiki now (openwiki), which is pretty tough to beat.

KatFebruary 23rd, 2006 at 3:38 pm

Oddly enough, I kind of like SharePoint and for what I need to do for one of my jobs, SharePoint is great — in that I work for a sales organization and we need people who don’t even know what a tag IS adding stuff to it. As a document repository (and the interfaces that they have for MS Products (i.e. MS Project viewer, integrated into SharePoint), it is pretty nice.