Key Microsoft Web Sources
Explain Office 2007 Features
Outsiders who are beta testing Office 2007 can't talk about the
product. But Microsoft can. Here's your guide to key Microsoft
sources with information about the next version of Office.
by Charley Kyd
"Office 12 will be the most revolutionary release of Office, ever," Jeff Raikes,
Microsoft Group Vice President, quoted by CRN.com, July 28, 2005.
So just how revolutionary will the next version of Office be? And will
it be a good revolution or a bad revolution?
You now can begin to answer these questions for yourself.
For months, Microsoft has posted detailed information about Office
12, which will be named Office
I've hesitated to discuss this information because I signed a strict
However, I've decided that I can safely repeat what Microsoft says
publicly. But what I can't do yet is to offer my own views about Office
Excel's New User Interface
Top 10 Benefits of Microsoft Office Excel 2007, Microsoft lists
topics that Excel users will talk about a lot in the years ahead. At the
top of the list is Excel's new user interface.
The following illustration will give you a general idea of what the new user
interface (UI) is like. It was offered by Microsoft's David Gainer, in a
recent post in his Excel 2007 blog.
As you can see, Excel menus are gone. They've been
replaced by the Ribbon, shown here.
(This figure also shows that Excel users now have a few more colors to
choose from. Excel 2003 gives us 56 colors; Excel 2007 give us 4.3
Microsoft's Jensen Harris, who writes a blog about the Office UI,
has been working on an eight-part series titled, "Why
the New UI?". His blog implies that there are two major reasons for the Ribbon.
Excel, Word, and PowerPoint have outgrown their menu structures.
Microsoft developers say there
simply wasn't enough room in the old menu structure for the new features they wanted to add to Office
Second, for the first time ever, Microsoft had accumulated extensive
data about the way users interact with Office products. This data showed that
most users had failed to discover many Office features. By displaying
features more prominently in the Ribbon, Microsoft expects users to
learn more about those features more quickly.
If you participate in Beta 2, you'll soon have the ability to
evaluate the new UI for yourself.
The charting engine that's used by Excel 2003 had never had a significant upgrade.
But now, the Excel 2007 charting engine has been completely redesigned.
Both Word 12 and PowerPoint 12 use the same new engine.
The illustrations shown here are from David Gainer's blog, "Quick detour Ė cool things on
the status bar and great-looking charts."
These images illustrate a few of the improvements, including thicker
chart lines, transparent images, soft shadowing, and 3D.
One frequent question that users ask about new versions of Excel is,
"Have they made the sheets any larger." Finally, the answer is, "Yes!!!"
Excel 2007 worksheets now have more than one million rows and 16,000
As one image shows, however, the new cell addresses will look a
little strange to experienced Excel users. The bottom-right cell of a
spreadsheet has gone from IV65536 to XFD1048576.
Even More Raised Limits
raised many other limits in Excel. These are just a few of them:
Total amount of PC memory that Excel can use
Old Limit: 1GB
New Limit: Maximum allowed by Windows
Number of conditional format conditions on a cell
Old Limit: 3 conditions
New Limit: Limited by available memory
Number of levels of sorting on a range or table
Old Limit: 3
New Limit: 64
Number of characters per cell that Excel can print
Old Limit: 1k
New Limit: 32k
Number of levels of nesting that Excel allows in formulas
Old Limit: 7
New Limit: 64
David Gainer writes that while planning for Office 12, "we did a lot
of customer research and we found a couple of things.
"First, we found that many users need the summary capabilities that
PivotTables offer, but some currently consider PivotTables 'too
advanced' and donít use them regularly. Second, we found that users that
did use PivotTables regularly had lots of requests to make them more
powerful and more capable.
"Finally, we found that customers that had adopted SQL Server
Analysis Services as their business intelligence platform wanted great
support for Analysis Services in Excel."
These findings translated into a
long list of improvements in PivotTables. I'll mention just three of
Styles. Excel 2007 allows you to apply styles to both
PivotTables and spreadsheets. This figure illustrates the PivotTable styling choices
Excel offered in a version of the product available to Gainer in
Data Bars. Both PivotTables and spreadsheets can use "Data Bars" in cells, as
shown in the PivotTable below. This automatic formatting capability provides a quick
and convenient chart-like view of your data.
Defer Layout Update.
Gainer writes that in "current versions of Excel, PivotTables are
updated each time a field is added, removed, or moved to a different
position. For PivotTables based on large data sets, these actions can
take some time to complete, meaning, for example, you end up waiting 7
times if you create a new a PivotTable and add 7 fields."
Excel 12 gives you a simple option, shown here, which lets you
modify your PivotTable without calculating it. Then, when you're ready,
you click the Update button.
Excel 12 offers many more features, of course, as you'll discover if
you follow the various links sprinkled throughout this article.
If you choose to beta test Office 12, you'll learn a lot more about the
Also, of course, as I can write more about Excel 12, I will.