Eugh ...

Online/Office 2007

I've been using Office 2007 in beta for some while now and like it very much. Dan Saffer at Adaptive Path writes:

Office 2007 just might be the best interaction design to ever come out of Microsoft, and it’s certainly the most significant upgrade to a major suite of applications since, well, probably ever. … 1000 enhancements. They broke with convention when they had a better solution. They applied known interaction design principles and come up with some awesome results, including the minibar. They understood tasks and modeled them before designing. They fixed known issues that have been annoying people for years. In short, they took a set of products that have been an interaction design punching bag for years and rethought them. While I’m sure this is going to cause some serious redesign reorientation, the suite really looks and feels designed now. In a good way.

But, he adds, 'From a business sense, it’s unclear if all these upgrades might be too little, too late.'

Anil praised Office 2007 back here:

Short and sweet, the Ribbon and new UI in Microsoft Office 2007 is the ballsiest new feature in the history of computer software. I've been using Office 12 for about six months, and not only has it made me more productive, I'm struck by the sheer ambition of the changes in this version. … there have been very few bet-the-company style risks, and certainly none from companies as large as Microsoft. But Microsoft did it anyway. They killed the File menu, along with all the other menus. They added a giant, weird circular target up in the corner. They actually use part of the title bar as a menu sometimes. They even changed the default font in all the apps. What's amazing is not just that it works, but that it works so well.

My experience has been the same as most of those who I know that are using the new version: Word went from being frustrating and confusing to fairly straightforward to use. PowerPoint went, in a single upgrade, from being the worst widely-available presentation software to being the best. Excel is a fundamentally different kind of spreadsheet application, focused on presenting information usefully instead of optimizing for the creation of complex formulas.

I've posted about Google "Office" before (here and here). Now I see:

  • You can email documents into Google Docs & Spreadsheets (login and go here).

  • Google Spreadsheets now allow you to 'publish … in every imaginable format (HTML, PDF, XLS, ODS, CSV) or as a feed. What's great is that the file is automatically updated, so you'll be almost certain that someone gets the latest version. You can also publish all the sheets or only some of them. But the coolest thing you can do is to embed a spreadsheet into your blog or site … Google Spreadsheets shows you all the revisions of a spreadsheets, so it's easy to go back to an earlier version. And there are two new functions that use information from the web: GoogleFinance("symbol", "attribute") that returns information about a stock. GoogleFinance("GOOG", "price") returns the current price for GOOG; GoogleLookup("entity", "attribute") that returns answers to simple questions like: population of Italy, Jay Leno's date of birth, that usually appear at the top of search results in GoogleLookup("Italy", "population") will return the population of Italy. Don't forget to place an equal in front of the function name.' Google Operating System

In other news:

We know that many of you are managing your tasks with Remember The Milk and your events with Google Calendar, and we thought it would be very cool if we could bring the two together. This new feature adds a small task icon to the top of each day in Google Calendar -- click on the icon to:

  • Review your tasks for the day
  • Add new tasks and edit existing ones
  • Easily complete and postpone tasks
  • Review your overdue tasks
  • Optionally show tasks with no due date
  • See where your tasks are located on a map
  • Google Reader is improving in leaps and bounds. The latest, via Lifehacker: 'Google Reader has updated their Feed actions drop-down menu with several super-handy actions that had been conspicuously missing in the first iteration of the new Google Reader, namely renaming of feeds and assigning feeds to a folder (all you could do for a while was unsubscribe).'

Web-apps (and not just Google's — see my earlier postings linked to above) are quickly becoming formidable. Whether Microsoft is, indeed, doing 'too little, too late' time, 'the final arbiter of all designs' (Dan Saffer), will tell, but all enterprises, businesses, schools must at least be pondering whether something as tempting as Office 2007 (for example) really is worth the upgrade price (and associated issues). Dan Saffer cites one CEO: 'To me, Office 2007 is a complete non-event. I have no interest in an upgrade … Most of what I like about computing now lives online.'