My Thoughts on MS Office 2007 Beta

Last Thursday, May 25, 2006, Microsoft launched a public beta of their Office 2007 suite. I’ve never seen them do anything on this large of a scale. All of their office programs, including the suites (Student and Teacher, Professional, Enterprise, etc) can be downloaded as well as Project, Visio, One Note, etc. I had been waiting for Outlook 2007 for a long time, so I eagerly downloaded the beta. I downloaded the Professional Plus version of Office as well as the three programs I mentioned in the previous sentence, Project, Visio, and One Note.

The information site with links to the beta download can be found here.

It was Friday before I was able to complete the installation, and would you guess what I found? My 1.6 Ghz notebook with 512 Megs of RAM was brought to a virtual standstill by the vast array of services that Microsoft has overbuilt into their office suite. I was incredibly happy to see some of the improvements in Outlook 2007, but in the end I uninstalled the whole thing. There’s no point in using it if my laptop won’t run. I’m sure everybody at Microsoft has a 3.2Ghz desktop with triple processors and a terabyte of RAM, but I can’t keep up with that.

One of the features that Microsoft brags about is the instant search, which uses the Windows Desktop search. The last time I installed that, it slowed my computer down to the point of not being useable. I had to take it off.

During the uninstall of Office 2007, somehow my installations of 2003 and XP became crippled. Neither will run without the install disk, which is funny because I made the point of leaving the installation files on my disk just for this case. In the end, I made a very radical decision.

My productivity system to this point has revolved around Outlook on my work and home computers, and Pocket Informant and or Ulti-Planner on my Pocket PC. I have lately added My Life Organized, which adds a high level of functionality to task tracking. My radical decision was to run completely free of Microsoft Office on my laptop. I haven’t gotten around to uninstalling 2003 and XP yet, but I did install Open 2.02, which is free and doesn’t have to run enough services upon boot up to bring the servers at Google to a stop if they used MS Office.

I installed My Life Organized at work. I do have a need to sync my tasks through Outlook. My Life Organized is phenomenal for tracking a deep level of projects, but Pocket Informant is nice for seeing what has to be done TODAY.

Since I stopped using Office on my laptop, it has gotten so much faster! I can’t believe it. Maybe Microsoft needs to learn to embrace the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid. They have piled so many features into their products that only the elite can now run them efficiently. As a home user, I don’t see a real need for all of the features MS includes anymore.

My transformation is almost complete. As I divorce myself from a need for MS products, I may find myself switching to a Linux distribution.