Office 2007 is the one to watch

The impending launch of Microsoft’s Small Business Accounting product in the
UK is more eagerly awaited by the UK accounting profession than any software
launch before it.

Yet Microsoft’s new version of Office, now earmarked to hit the shelves next
January, is likely to have a much broader effect on accountants, and their
clients, than the impending accounting software.

Recently rebranded from ‘Office 12’ to ‘2007 Microsoft Office’, the product
is expected to host three main rafts of changes, ranging from tweaks to brand
new features.

Users will be presented with a new interface, which is intended to make the
product more intuitive and help provide options onscreen related to whichever
application is being accessed – whether it is Excel, Word or another.

Practice management team leader of business software company MYOB, James
Bolt, explained that one of the key drivers behind the change was because
Microsoft was receiving requests for new features already existed in the
software, but not obviously accessible.

‘Users weren’t getting full value of functionality,’ said Bolt. ‘If you’re
working using a table for example, context-sensitive options will appear to
manage them.’

Accounting practitioners should benefit from the new interface, according to
Mark Holland, partner and head of IT advisory services at Baker Tilly. ‘Users
expect accurate info presented to them in a format that it easy to assimilate.
It has the potential to do that,’ said Holland.

Butler Group senior research analyst Michael Azoff saw the product’s use of
internet technology, and its close tie in with the business process and
intelligence capabilities of the Office 2007 server as key for larger
enterprises considering an upgrade. More importantly for Microsoft, it is
providing a strong alternative to free-to-use open source applications.

‘By embracing the web and moving the product into the enterprise it shows
there’s steam yet in Office,’ said Azoff.

Office 2007 has also been designed to feature XML formats across the
applications that work within it, a factor seen as a boon for software

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