I made the switch to Office 2007 about 8 months ago at home and about 6 months ago at work. I decided that if I’m going to have to support it, I need to know it. Here’s my thoughts.
First, the ribbons and lack of menus was a bit daunting at the beginning. After using it for a while, I’ve gotten used to it and I have actually found the ribbons to make a whole lot more sense than the menus. Everything is where it should be rather than where Microsoft decided it should be (I realize they decided the ribbons as well, but they make more sense than many of the menus in previous versions of Office). Because everything is easier to find now, I’ve found that my productivity when using Office products has increased. You can still get to the various menu items when necessary, but the most common commands, many frequently hidden in menus, are now right at your fingertips.
Another major change is that the switch to XML-based files has decreased the file size for documents, especially in Excel.
The Office button (the big button in the upper left of the window) is the only thing that can be a bit confusing for people, as well as the quick access buttons next to it in the title bar. I had to customize that (which is easily done) to get the more common commands that I frequently use available (Print Preview, Print, Save, New File) as the default buttons there weren’t everything I use frequently. That will come to be an issue for those people who aren’t power users, like myself, but expect easy access to some of those buttons that were on the toolbar in previous versions.
Outlook adds a To-do task pane on the right hand side with easy access to the calendar, task list, and upcoming appointments. It’s a really nice feature and prevents you from having to go back and forth between your mail and your calendar just to check on appointments. Outlook is also the only Office application that still has menus. My guess is that is because the program itself doesn’t have any actual file manipulation until you go and write a message. The ribbons are present on the message creation windows, but not Outlook itself.
I don’t really have anything bad to say about Office 2007 (I’m really not a Microsoft fanboi, I just really like the new stuff). Having a new file format is a pain to deal with, but with the converter for Office 2003, it seems to work just fine (except with Access, which has always had its own issues). I’m glad I made the switch and I’m sure most people, after using it for a while and getting used to the ribbons, will feel the same way.