Despite the fact that Microsoft has announced that it will delay the release of Office 2007, thereby demonstrating that they are really incapable of putting out their products when they say they are; despite the fact that the new “docx” files aren’t compliant with the Oasis OpenDocument format, and despite the fact that OpenOffice.org is both free and competent, I plan on using Word 2007. Why?
The way it looks.
Now, before you judge too harshly, let me explain.
I am, now that I have left graduate school, concentrating more and more on being a writer. As a writer, I sit in front of a computer screen typing. Word 2007 is the first word processing program that I’ve seen that feels inviting, that presents itself as a workspace that feels both clean and pleasing to the eye. While the new “ribbon” is a bit to bulky on my laptop and I hope there is a way to resize it in the final release, Word 2007 manages to escapte the blandly utilitarian feel of every single word processor I have seen. This seems like a minor point, but for me, coming into a pleasing workspace onscreen as I write is refreshing. I’m thinking of how, back in old days, typewriter’s used to have personalities and I wonder how much the actual look and feel of a specifica typewriter impacted a writer’s process.
In looking at Word 2007’s interface, I’m thinking that my reaction to the program has to do with one simple thing: the background. The blue background, with its little “swoosh” of color in the top left hand corner seems to be the key thing in making the space feel inviting. I’m not sure if it is a planned, subtle psychological effect or not, but it works. I would never recommend MS Office for office environments, however, or at least for non-profit or small business. OpenOffice.org is the much better choice because it is a free, stable, very capable suite of programs. I also like that you can get it as a portable app, putting it on your thumbdrive and carrying your office suite with you wherever you go. Just give your employees a 512mb thumbdrive and they can carry their workspace with them between home and the office without any need to change platforms or programs. It’s a lot cheaper than offering them laptops.
That said, I will use Word 2007 as a primarily word processor because I like the way it feels as a workspace. However, I will also keep OpenOffice.org Suite around because I have no such attachment to the other MS Office programs (although until I find a Calendar/Contact alternative to Outlook that will sync with my pocket pc, I will continue to use that). It is really only Word 2007 and OneNote that I find particularly useful and likable. For email, I use Thunderbird. For browsers I primarily use Opera but sometimes Firefox. For desktop publishing I’m currently taking the open source Scribus for a spin.
Thus endeth my brief defense of 2 Microsoft products. I only feel slightly dirty. 🙂