Today, Chris went on this crusade against e-mail priority flags (a God-awful invention if I ever saw one) and I went on some mini-tangent about Office 2007, which I saw as another useless Microsoft invention (Zune is one of those things, but that’s another post altogether).
A lot of my frustration with Microsoft’s finest creation stems from my experience with the software during my first week of school. At the college in the desert/mountains, the composition classes have one hour of computer lab time and they’re in these brand new classrooms with state of the art PC’s. Last semester (before the new building was completed), my class met for their lab in the library, and those computers were polished white iMacs (circa 1999-2002, the cathode ray tube variety). All of my students (and yours truly) hated those antiquated devices (which were updated with Panther, but incredibly slow. The spinning rainbow wheel was a common occurrence). Even though I’m not a PC person, I feel the new computers are a vast improvement. Of course, they come equipped with Office 2007.
Since I teach English, I naturally have them use Microsoft Word for their in-lab writing assignments. I suspect all of them were familiar with some previous version of the word processsing program. Before my encounter with the new Word, my most recent experience was with Office 2004. Two weeks ago, I plunked Office 2008 into my new MacBook, but that did not prepare me for its PC-based sibling.
Unfamiliarity with the program didn’t make the lab an easy one, especially since I had students create writing samples during that first day.
The interface was the thing that confused all of us. Office’s website calls it “Fluent User Interface,” but it was a foreign language for all of us. Certain formatting features (new ones) are laid out in a way for the user to easily click on them to use, but this does very little good if you don’t need them right away. For some simpler functions, they weren’t so readily available like on the older versions. Mac’s Office 2008 retains this older interface and integrates it with the new interface. However, Office 2007 goes for something newer and flashier. It took one of my students to figure this out, and she told me to click the “medallion”* on the upper left hand corner and comes the functions to save, print, and some of the other basic ones we all love.
Once we all understood these things about Office 2007, things are easier. I’m sure there’s some more learning we will all do as the semester comes along. There are a few other computer issues I can think of, but that’s for another time. Sometime down the road, I should call the school’s IT department and arrange for someone to come to the lab as a guest speaker.
As I played around with Word 2007 today, I have to say it grew on me. One of the coolest features I discovered was that files can be published as blog entries. Strangely enough, this feature isn’t available in Mac’s Word 2008. Yes, I am eating some earlier words. Perhaps I’ll say more as I become more and more familiar with the program.
*my little term for the Microsoft crest that adorns the upper left hand corner of the Office 2007 program window.