Will Microsoft Office 2007 System updates be easier to deploy to users?
Yes. In previous Office versions, you kept local installations current by updating the source files in the administrative installation point and triggering a reinstallation of Office on each user's computer. Or you configured Office 2000 Setup to chain software updates with new installations of Office. Keeping all installations synchronized was difficult.

Now, you create a network installation point that you never have to update, so that client computers never become out of sync with the installation source. Keeping new installations current is as simple as copying updates to a folder on the network installation point. There's no need to configure complex, chained deployments or modify the original installation files.

New installations will chain the updates in sequence, and you can specify different locations for updates by using a config.xml file. (For more information about deployment mechanisms, see the Microsoft article "Deploy the 2007 Office system with limited network capacity" at http://technet2.microsoft.com/office/en-us/ library/1f721083-6d58-4a53-94c1-1bbfc36a249b1033.mspx.)

For organizations that subscribe to Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), I highly recommend that you install Office 2007 with cached installation files and distribute updates by using WSUS.

What can I really expect from Office 2007?
Your users are definitely in for an adjustment as they experience the new UI. Be proactive in training and preparing them. In my experience with clients, organizations that have introduced users to the new UI, with as little as a 30-minute introduction, have found the transition to be significantly smoother than those that haven't prepared end users. Microsoft provides several Office 2007 resources(e.g., training and command-reference guides) at http://office.microsoft.com, which you can incorporate into your enduser training.

Once the adjustment is made, the experience of Office 2007 early adopters confirms that the new UI enables users to be significantly more productive. In addition, the new file formats and deployment processes are easier for IT administrators to manage. Most importantly, the power of Office 2007, which includes Windows SharePoint Services and support for technologies such as information rights management (IRM), means that collaboration, knowledge management, business intelligence, and security will add real business value. This isn't just Microsoft hype; I've seen it firsthand. And as Office 2007 rolls onto desktops, we'll all begin to gather real-world experience with the good, the bad, and the ugly in the newest overhauled Office version.

Has the number of rows and columns supported by Microsoft Office Excel 2007 changed?
The long-standing
limitation of 256 columns (A to ZZ) and 16,384 rows has been expanded to include worksheets up to 16,384 columns (A to ZZZ) and 1,048,576 rows.

Will my computer have enough horsepower to run Office 2007?
Most likely, yes, if you're using a computer purchased within the last year or two. However, Microsoft has changed how it states an application's hardware prerequisites, and Microsoft's numbers sometimes assume that you're running nothing but Office 2007. Check out Table 1 to see Microsoft's stated system requirements for Office 2007 versus what I think are probably more realistic requirement guidelines.

Excel 2007's conditional formatting has additional settings; what are they?
Figure 1 shows examples of the three new settings for Conditional Formatting: Color Scales, Icon Sets, and Data Bars. Color Scales color the background of a group of cells with different colors according to the values of the various cells. For example, in the Serial column in Figure 1, the color of the successive cells gradually changes from yellow to red as the cell values increase. Icon Sets precede the text in a cell with an icon that represents some aspect of the cell's value with respect to other values in a group of cells. In Figure 1, cells are marked as belonging to a specific group by a colored flag that precedes the integer in the Serial field. Data Bars show a gradient bar in a cell's background and can display information that might not be explicitly stated (i.e., with a numerical value) in the field.

I'm a little confused about differentiating themes, templates, and Quick Styles. Can you clarify what each of these features does, or at least point me in the right direction?
Your confusion is understandable, especially about themes, which are an entirely new feature, although older versions of Office had a (different) feature called "themes." An Office 2007 theme is a new, standalone file type (.thmx) that defines colors, fonts, and effects to create a distinctive, visually cohesive look for all Office 2007 documents. Default themes include Office, Urban, and Opulent. You can find them in the themes gallery in each application: on the Design tab in Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 and on the Page Layout tab in Microsoft Office Word 2007, Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 email messages, and Excel 2007.

Every Office 2007 document has a theme associated with it. Themes are available across Excel 2007, Word 2007, PowerPoint 2007, and Outlook 2007. Therefore, your communications or design personnel should spend some time, right away, creating themes that reflect your corporate identity.

In Office 2007, a template is truly a starter document. For example, PowerPoint 2007 design templates have been replaced by themes, and each theme defines slide layout, colors, and other slide-design features. PowerPoint 2007, on the other hand, now contains only starter slides and boilerplate content.

PowerPoint 2007 shape styles, Excel 2007 cell styles, Word 2007 styles, and Quick Styles are affected by the colors, fonts, and effects of the theme that's in use. For example, in Word 2007 a template's Quick Style might define the Heading 1 style as a certain size and with a particular indentation. However, the theme would determine the actual font. A theme might be one of the built-in themes or one created with your corporate fonts and colors. The theme defines, among other things, the font used for headings and that used for body text. The heading font defined in the theme would be sized and indented based on the Heading 1 style definition. What's great is that you could switch between a casual Quick Style and a more formal Quick Style, which would alter font sizes, indentation, and other aspects of text styles, but the colors and fonts would still comply with your corporate standards. Additionally, you could create Excel 2007 worksheets, PowerPoint 2007 presentations, and even email messages all using the same theme! Note, however, that one caveat of the theme function is that Microsoft Office 2003 documents and documents saved in Office 2003 formats will continue to behave as they always have. If, for example, you save a 2007 document as a 2003 document, any custom theme information defined in that file will be lost.

I read about, but can't find, the Document Inspector on any of the Ribbon commands. What does the Document Inspector do, and how can I use it?
The Document Inspector is a prepublishing feature and doesn't live on the Ribbon (so to speak). Document inspection is available in Word, Excel and PowerPoint 2007. To find the Document Inspector, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Office button.
  2. Choose Prepare.
  3. Click Inspect Document.

The inspection process removes categorical personal data and any tracked-changes identification. The list in Figure 2 shows the Document Inspector features you can enable.