Outlook 2007 Upgrade

I went through the upgrade to Office 2007 yesterday... while I'd followed its development through Microsoft blogs and preview articles, I hadn't ever installed any of the pre-RTM versions. The upgrade itself was pretty painless, though, I did have a bit of a scare at the last minute when I fetched it off MSDN.

On the MSDN Office Pro 2007 (English) page, Outlook isn't listed as one of the included applications. However, this page says that Office Pro includes Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager (not sure what BCM is, but I doubt I need it). There have been a few blog/newsgroup posts from folks who have downloaded it and didn't get the BCM option. Thankfully, I burned the ISO image to a disc and Outlook 2007 is included -- it just doesn't have BCM.

There are also a number of posts about a mix-up with product keys on MSDN. Apparently, the product keys for Visio and Project are the same, as are the keys for InfoPath and OneNote. While the key will work for multiple activations, once it's used for a certain application it can only be used for THAT application going forward. So if you use it to install Visio, you can't use it when you install Project. According to a Microsoft blog post, that should be fixed this week. I didn't need Project or InfoPath right away, but I did want OneNote and Visio... so I went for it.

From there, the upgrade was smooth. I removed Visio and OneNote in advance, but let the installer for Office 2007 upgrade my 2003 installation. This picked up all my Outlook account settings and data files and worked like a champ. The Office install asked me to reboot, though, the OneNote and Visio installers didn't need it.

Since then, I've found/discovered just a few things and made some mental notes:

  • While it takes some getting used to, I really like the ribbon bar UI. I keep looking up there for a menu to traverse, but once I think about the task I want to accomplish it works great -- Insert something into a document, Format a portion of the document, etc.
  • I use the heck out of Outlook, both at home and in the office, and I'm kinda bummed that Outlook only got half of the new UI. The main Outlook client window doesn't have the ribbon bar, but the various child item windows do have it -- new message, new task, new appointment, etc. I'd prefer it to be all or nothing, I think... that said, I do like a few of the new things in Outlook: The To-Do bar is handy (ALT+F2 to toggle), the ability to subscribe to internet calendars (via .ICS) is great for viewing Google Calendars, and the color-coded categories on tasks is useful.
  • Some things about the new Outlook aren't real exciting for me -- During the initial running of it, I was asked if I wanted Outlook to use the Windows common feed location for RSS subscriptions. I said 'no' at the time, but now I'd like it to use that... I just can't find a place to tell it so. I can see where I add new RSS feeds, but not where I tell it to use the Windows location. It's not a big deal as I much prefer FeedDemon and the whole NewsGator experience, but it does seem odd that I can't find it. Another little nit is that the keyboard shortcuts I got used to don't always work. For example, I use Categories in new Task items as a way of assigning context to my GTD 'next action' tasks. In the past, I could ALT+G to bring up the Category list when creating a new task and then start typing the first few letters of the category I wanted to assign. Now, I have to use ALT+H to get the Task ribbon, then 'G' for the Category list, and then I have to arrow-down to the one I want. Typing the first few characters doesn't work.
  • I could be wrong, but it seems that Outlook 2007 uses Word as its email editor -- and that's that. In past versions, there was an option to use the regular message editor. I don't see that option now and the message editor has a Word-like feel to it. As long as performance doesn't suffer (the main problem with Word as the email editor in the past), I don't mind either way.
  • Looks like I need to install the Windows Desktop Search if I want a better/faster search experience from within Office. In the past, I used Lookout (which Microsoft bought) to search across all Outlook items. It was small, fast, and stable. I'll give WDS a try, but it seems like overkill when 90% of my searching is in Outlook and not across the file system.
  • I had to disable a part of the MindManager add-in for Outlook, as it would crash Outlook every time I closed it. Exporting from Outlook to MindManager isn't something I do a lot, so it's not great loss... but I was surprised that the MindManager site doesn't have any news on how they're addressing this. Their support forums have a few older mentions of it from pre-release and others have blogged about it, but now that Office has gone RTM I'd have thought that MindJet would jump on a fix for this.
  • I dig the Data Bars feature in Excel, along with some of the other conditional formatting additions.
  • The Office apps now have their own color schemes, with three to choose from -- black, silver, and blue. The blue seems much too light to blend with the standard XP Luna blue theme. The silver blends well with the XP Luna silver theme, though. That said, I've been using the Royale Noir (now Zune) theme, which is XP Luna in black. I like it a lot... the Office 2007 black theme 'mostly' blends well with the Zune theme, but Outlook in particular looks kinda bad. The black toolbar area with silver/gray toolbars seems a bit too high-contrast (below). The apps that use the ribbon UI, however, look very good when Office uses black and XP is on the Zune theme (Word, Excel, Powerpoint).
  • Haven't spent much time yet with Visio, OneNote, Powerpoint, or Word...

In any case, the whole experience has been reasonably solid and very stable (aside from the one issue with the MindManager addin... which was easily fixed and isn't the fault of Office at all).