Hands on Microsoft Office XP

##AUTHORSPLIT##<--->I have often looked upon new versions of Microsoft Office with some trepidation. It always seems as if a new version comes out just as I've finally gotten used to the last one. In fact, I had worn into a comfortable groove, refusing urges to upgrade from the seemingly ancient Office 97. All that finally changed with the release of Microsoft Office XP.

Office XP includes new versions of Word, Excel, Outlook, Power Point and Access. While other updates to the Office family offered a few design changes and new features, XPis a quantum leap to a new level of functionality. Designed primarily as a collaborative tool, XP offers a great deal of new features to integrate with online resources and to help teachers, administrators and students create and share their work more easily.

One of the most helpful features in XP are the smart tags that flag questionable portions of text and give the user quick links to commonly-used commands. For instance, while typing in Word, the AutoCorrect function may unnecessarily capitalize a word. In the past, one would have to search through menus to make a change. Now, a simple right click brings up a smart tag that offers a command to disable the AutoCorrect. Smart tags also appear with names or dates, allowing you to share information quickly with Outlook's address book and scheduling features, or to link with information online.

A new Track Changes feature makes it easy to send a document to others, and easily collect and incorporate edits and comments. Comments can be merged into the original document, and the author can choose which edits to keep and which to discard. Another important part of XP is its Web integration. With an option called Refreshable Web Query, a user can select a piece of information online and set it to import and automatically update Excel spreadsheets.

Overall, I was very impressed by Office XP's functionality and usability. Educators will wonder how they ever did without the myriad of high-tech collaboration features, as well as simple things like a clipboard that stores up to 24 pieces of information.

-Jim Schneider

Contact Information

Microsoft Corp.
Redmond, WA
(425) 882-8080

This article originally appeared in the 09/01/2001 issue of THE Journal.

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