Why I like Vista and Office 2007 for writing.
- Word count. I like Word 2007. In particular, I like the continuously updated word count in the status bar at the bottom of the window. This is probably the best single feature for professional writers. You can also drag a selection of text and it shows you the word count for that too.
- Document templates. I also like the new document templates which mean that I can make my documents look good without really thinking too much about it.
- I used Document Map a lot in Word 2003 and it works the same here. It’s a good way to navigate large documents using a hierarchy of headings. It makes structuring documents much easier – I haven’t used outliners for a while because I think this works better. I think Thumbnails are new – they give you a PowerPoint style visual overview.
- File compatibility. At first I couldn’t get anyone to open my files. The new .docx stuff only opens on Word 2003 if people install the compatibility pack. However, I discovered an option that automatically saved everything in the old Word format.
- Easy screengrabs. I haven’t got into OneNote 2007 (yet?) but I like the way it does screen grabs. Previously, if I wanted to clip a bit of the screen, I’d use Ctrl + PrtScn and then edit the image. Now I can use Windows + S and draw round the bit I want and paste it straight into a Word document. A small detail, but a big timesaver.
- Search in Outlook. I’m an Outlook addict. I have been using tasks since Schedule+ in the pre-Cambrian era and I have all my contacts and diary in it so it syncs up with my Smartphone. The main thing about Outlook 2007 for me is the integrated search. It’s much quicker to look up a contact or an email. I also like the way it puts the next three diary events and my to-do list up on the screen alongside my email.
- Desktop search. Vista is useful too. Desktop search isn’t new for me – I used Google search on my old PC, but it’s nicely integrated into the start menu now. I’ve downloaded the add-on that searches my server files as well so I can search across the network and locally. Very nice. It’s helpful for me when I’m on the phone to a client or interviewee and I need to find a file quickly.
It’s not really a writing thing but Flight Simulator X and Vista plus my shiny new nVidia graphics card and monster screen totally rock!
I’m not sure I would upgrade an old computer just to get these features but I would certainly miss them if they were taken away.
Full disclosure: I wrote four case studies for the UK launch of Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office system (apparently, that is the ‘official’ name for Office 2007 – they’re good at software but lousy at product names). However, I use both products daily of my own volition and not because Uncle Bill made me do it.