You CAN Migrate to Office 2007 and Still Collaborate

by Louellen Coker on June 6, 2008

After being thrust into the Windows Vista world last year, there has been a general outcry against Microsoft, because suddenly, much of our software wasn’t Vista compatible. It became a very expensive, time-consuming endeavor to stay up with technology.

Still reeling from the Vista launch debacle, many people are hesitant in migrating to Office 2007. The most-often voiced objections I’ve heard include:

  • The interface is completely different and there is a real learning curve.
  • No one can read my documents that were created in an Office 2007 application.

Dispelling the myths

It’s different and has a learning curve

When you open your Office 2007 application, be ready for a COMPLETELY different interface. The difference is as big as going from Windows to Windows XP a few years back or even from Windows XP to Windows Vista. In fact, when my IT company whacked out my Office 2003 installation, they recommended that I go with Office 2003 rather than 2007 because, “It takes some time to become oriented with and be able to use the applications, because it is completely different and people don’t know how to handle your files.”

Disgusted with myself because I was forced to buy a new Office suite since I had misfiled my installation disk and could not find it, I was taken aback by my representative’s suggestion. I figured it had to be bad if a techie was warding me off. The business side of my brain started screaming, this does not compute. After all, why would I want to spend that much money on an application that was five years old and wouldn’t work with 2007 files that my customers were starting to send me? And I was at deadline. I could go to any number of stores and buy it off the shelf, whereas if I went for 2003, I’d be out of commission for three days at a minimum.

I literally had 30 minutes to make a decision, so I made my way to the Microsoft site and discovered that I could take it for a test drive. Be prepared for a time investment for the download, but it is well worth it! It took me all of three minutes to discover that the new interface is really quite logical. In fact, it makes much more sense!

Off I rushed to get my tool. Once installed, it truly was like a breath of fresh air. There is no denying that it is different, and if you don’t like change, you may not like it… at first. But if you are willing to let go of the standard menu bar, you’ll find that everything makes more sense and things are much easier to find and use than in earlier versions.

There are so many new and über-cool things that are available in the new suite that it is well worth the learning curve plunge.

No one can open my files

I hear this all the time from professionals and casual users alike. Well, it is absolutely not true! If you are the only one in your department or regularly send people Word (or any of the Office suite files), you can enjoy the new interface and collaborate with others just as you always have.

There are several ways you can work in 2007 and collaborate with others:

  • If you occasionally work with someone who has an older version, simply select Windows Button > Save As > 97-2003 document.
  • If you work in a department of mixed suites, you can set your preferences to always save as a backward compatible document by selecting Windows Button > Word Options. On the Save tab, you can set the default manner in which you want to save your files.
  • If you want to save everything as a 2007 compatible file, you may consider adding a link to the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats download that installs a converter.

Have you been afraid to migrate to Office 2007 because you’re afraid that few people will be able to open your files? Well, never fear. With a quick change of preference, you can have your cake and eat it, too!

This article by Louellen S. Coker of Content Solutions appeared in the April 2008 issue of Technically Write, the STC Lone Star Community’s newsletter.

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