There is a short article on the ComputerWorld web site about a reference to the next version of Office posted on an MS web site and later removed.
What I found notable was the first comment was along the lines of 'does anyone really care' about potential new features along with another version? This got me to thinking - where could the suite actually go? Would they move the Ribbon to the side of the screen and call it a Tab Bar?
The article referenced a new potential feature for SharePoint - a podcasting utilility - and the possibility of a new version of SharePoint in 2009.
Certainly the evolution of collaboration online is a viable direction for many Office users, but for small businesses and individuals, and even many end users in a corporate environment, the disruption of a new version is a horrendous distraction as many are commenting about Vista and the current version of Office.
I will be discussing these issues in impending updates as well; because besides the need to "reprogram" oneself to work efficiently, many times these new versions introduce problems that had already been solved (See Windows XP, et al).
With regard to Office, there is nothing more frustratating than looking for a feature that has been moved, or removed altogether, or hidden in the "Quick Access" toolbar, when you just need to finish a project and move on.
Sometimes a right-click will solve this problem, but I have been forced to look up the feature in my own book (!) to remind myself of where the dialog box is -- how dumb does that make me feel?
Finally, there is a tendency of successive versions to try to take over the thinking process, often in the name of security, and "help" you make decisions as an end user that you are completely prepared to make. In Vista this has made most users turn off the User Account setting immediately upon loading the OS.
My next book should probably be all about the annoying dialog boxes that pop up in Office and Vista asking "are you really really sure this is what you want to do?" (Due respect to the Annoyances.org franchise...).
I understand that corporations need to upgrade to make money.
I also understand that there is just so much you can cram into a spreadsheet or a word processor.
But users need to realize and it seems it is happening that their interests lie not in what's new, but in what works efficiently.
So I will be interested to see what emerges in an Office 14, or an Office 20000 (clairvoyant transcription of thoughts?), but in the meantime I will vigilantly protect my ability to get by with versions with which I am completely comfortable.
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