Should I Upgrade to Microsoft Word 2007?

MS Word 2007 - New Interface

Learn to love "The Ribbon."  Or else.
Learn to love "The Ribbon." Or else.

As with all of the Office 2007 suite of tools, whether or not to upgrade to Microsoft Word 2007 depends on what your situation is, what you’re upgrading from, how tolerant you are of interface changes, and what you’re looking for.

The most noticeable difference between Microsoft Word 2007 and earlier versions of Word is what’s called “The Ribbon.” This is the panel at the top, where you are probably accustomed to seeing the usual buttons and menu options. That layout continued virtually unchanged from the earliest days of Word. But for version 2007, for reasons unknown, Microsoft decided to mix it all up.

New users invariably find “The Ribbon” frustrating, confusing, and difficult to navigate. Where do you go to create a line graph? Where is the option for editing a header and footer? It’s almost impossible to guess. It will take you a while to get used to the new interface. How long depends on your patience, skill, and the amount of time you spend using it.

Two other changes most users will notice right away:

  1. The default font is a new sans-serif font called Calibri, instead of Times New Roman.
  2. Files are automatically saved in a new document format, .docx. This format is not compatible with earlier versions of Word. If you need to send a document to someone who is not using Word 2007, you will have to use “save as” to create a .doc (“Word 97-2003-compatible”) file.

Should I Upgrade to Microsoft Word 2007 From Word 2003?

I honestly don’t see why you would, unless you have a burning need to publish Word documents as a PDF, and you don’t already have the required Adobe software to do so.  Being able to save a Word document as a PDF is handy, but it’s probably not the “killer app” that will convince you to upgrade.

Word 2007 also allows you to use “Microsoft Digital Signature” to sign your documents.  So far as I know, no one uses this.  It’s a bit silly.  But aside from some minor changes under the hood, rearranging all the menu options, and changing the spellchecker’s behavior slightly, this is functionally the same as Word 2003. 

Should I Upgrade to Microsoft Word 2007 From Word XP?

Word XP is officially compatible with both Windows Vista and Windows 7.  However, Word XP is almost ten years old at this point.  It is inevitable that official support for it will be dropped soon. 

Security is another potential issue.  All versions of Word are susceptible to macro viruses.  Because Word XP is so old, it is not likely to be patched as quickly or as well as more recent versions of Word, which will receive the lion’s share of Microsoft’s development and patch time.  For this reason alone, I would recommend upgrading to Word 2007 if you have the opportunity.

Should I Upgrade to Microsoft Word 2007 From Word 2000?

Absolutely. 

Microsoft has officially ended support for Word 2000, which means that they will no longer issue patches or fixes for it.  Although you will probably be able to get Word 2000 to run on Windows Vista or Windows 7, the ability to use it is definitely not guaranteed.  It may not run well, and if you have any problems, you will have a difficult time finding someone to help you.

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