Microsoft Help

Our office upgraded to Microsoft Office 2007 this week. Mom upgraded several weeks ago. So today Mom said that the place she takes her newletter to for printing couldn’t read the file she had made in Publisher 2007. I said can’t you just save it as an earlier version. She eventually found a place where she could save it as a Publisher 2000 file (why not 2003, the next most recent version?). I went to Microsoft for help. I tried Help that was installed with Office first. Whoops. I don’t guess Help was installed with Office (I have no idea why this would even be an option). So I switched to online help and the internet.

Microsoft said that older versions of software could download a patch that would allow those programs to use the new file format the Microsoft was using in 2007 and they included a link to Microsoft Online. But rather than link to the page with the download, they linked to the homepage of MS Online. Then you had to find it. I clicked on Downloads and all I found was a patch made in 2004, but nothing about reading files. Eventually I did find it by looking under popular downloads. Why not just link to the page with the download from help?

They also said that if you wanted, you could have Publisher 2007 work in “Compatibility Mode” with an older version. While that would disable the newer features of 2007, it would produce a file that could be read in 2003. That was probably what Mom needed to do even though she had started in 2007, so that she could see what changes came about (that’s part of the problem: when you save to an older version Microsoft throws up an ominous warning box saying you will be getting rid of features not supported in the older software and your document will look different). So I looked for help on how to actually work in Compatibility Mode. All I found in a search was the FAQ I was already in. So I still don’t know how to do that.

One of the people in my group doesn’t like Office’s “ribbon” where all the commands are stored (as opposed to the old menus). She wanted to turn her macro protection down a notch so that one of her old spreadsheets would work. It used to be under Tools:Macros:Macro Security. But there is no Tools menu anymore. We did find a way to it in a piece of screen that popped up a warning about the dangers of macros and eventually got the setting right. But that made me think that there was probably a setting Microsoft included to revert to “Classic Menus” like they did with a lot of the changes introduced in Windows XP. But there isn’t. An internet search led me to a company that will sell you a plug-in for $30 that will bring back the old menus with the new commands included. Given the way our upgrade was rolled out (one night Office 2007 was just automatically installed), that would have been a really nice option even if you could only do it temporarily so that you could find the command (Lotus 1-2-3 had a feature like that in its Windows version that would let you use the old DOS version keystrokes that some people were amazingly proficient with).

Microsoft is the world leader in software and spent millions if not billions on rewriting Office, but they still seem to live in a world where they only feel a need to explain things to people who have never used the product before and won’t be using anything else.

No worries for me just yet. My computer is about five years old at work and is still running on Windows 2000. Office 2007 requires WIndows XP.

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