Web 2.0 and Microsoft Word 2007

I am a member of a few groups of professional writers and editors, and have found, to my amazement, that many of these people seriously dislike Word 2007. This came as a shock to me, because within two days of starting to work with it myself, I loved it and my own productivity sky-rocketed.

This has led me on a quest to understand. How am I, and the others who enjoy Word 2007, different from those who detest the new format and have experienced a decline in their productivity?

Is Web 2.0 literacy the key? Once there was a gulf between those with a home computer, an internet connection and email, and those without. That gulf may now be between computer people who have adapted to Web 2.0 and those who have not.

Corporate environments tend to lock down internet access so their workers cannot use applications like Facebook and Twitter in work time. I wonder; have they inadvertently done themselves a disservice? In addition, people who work on computers all day – apart from computer enthusiasts – may be disinclined to go home and sit on Facebook all night. I am suspecting that there has been a serious paradigm shift out there in "user land" that professional and corporate IT people have been locked away from and haven't really spotted.

I'm not sure what it really is or really entails and I doubt anyone does. It is all moving far too fast for that. But it is a rollercoaster I would rather jump on than miss.

So back to Microsoft. My observation is that Microsoft may have FOLLOWED this Web 2.0 lead. They have observed what is happening with Web 2.0, and taken the lead amongst desktop software systems in shifting themselves into this new world. I know that many people do like Office 2007, and I am wondering of Web 2.0 literacy is the key.

Windows Live is a good example of Microsoft's attempts to enter the Web 2.0 world. When they first devised Windows Live, it was effectively an online document collaboration tool; not a huge shift from the Microsoft core business, just an extension of it. Over time it has evolved into something that looks like it is trying to compete with Facebook. Again, Microsoft seems to be following, not leading.

Web 2.0 affects more than just Microsoft. It is changing the entire web development industry. I bought a copy of DreamWeaver to create my own web pages, and found it very heavy going. At about that time, I discovered Weebly, BlinkWeb and Google Blogger. My Dreamweaver has sat, unloved and un-mastered on my desktop ever since. The free drag and drop technologies do enough to satisfy my sole trader, home business needs. How will this impact on web development professionals, and on the high level web development tools? Will they drift into obscurity? It won't take long – maybe a year or two to get the answer to that question. Will Adobe bring out the Rolls Royce of on-line web development tools? Now that would be interesting!

The Web 2.0 revolution has also affected publishing. I found my publisher was not promoting my books into the global marketplace as they had promised, so I have self-published using Web 2.0 resources. Others have been unable to get published at all, and so have self-published, to find themselves with best sellers on their hands and conventional publishers offering them million-dollar contacts. Print-on-demand technology is revolutionising publishing as we speak. I can supply my book as a PDF file to a printer who can cost effectively print and despatch a single copy; no more huge print runs resulting in volumes of remaindered stock.

What else is being radically changed as Web 2.0 developers get better and better at what they do, and are enabling ordinary users to do more and more of what they once had to pay professionals to do?

I am writing this using the Blog template in Word 2007 and will hit a button in Word to save it to my Google blog. From there it will distribute itself across a range of other sites with no human intervention. Now how sweet is that?


  1. I'm not sure it's particularly a Web 2.0 thing (whatever that is!), more just plain old resistance to change.

    When you're starting out everything is a new, you're forced to learn. Later on people get to a point where they're comfortable with a toolset and don't want to go through it all again. They protect their turf. I well remember my deep understanding of tools like Ventura Publisher and ForeHelp becoming obsolete ...and the accompanying disquiet. I got over it. These days I work on the theory that content is king and don't get so attached to the tools.

    But really, get over the change, how much do folks really need to know? I count myself an 'expert' Word user. I probably use no more than 30% of its capabilities. It's entirely possible to be productive on day 1 with the 2007 toolset. Stuff's moved, just find it, it's not that hard. Don't take it so personally!

  2. Thanks for your comment Steve. I agree with it in part.

    What concerns me is that Office 2007 has been out for two years now, and the resistance is so great that we are not yet at the point of talking about it.

    The lists on which I participate are still talking about the comparison between Word 2003 and Word 2007 and there is no dialogue yet about the good and bad of 2007 itself.

  3. I haven't switched to 2007 yet either, but I'm working on it...but as to your other comments, I wonder if some of the resistance to Web 2.0 tools is because Corporate IT didn't think of it first. It would be great to see implementations of tools like Twitter, Digg, LinkedIn etc. inside the firewall. I am pretty sick of e-mail at this point - so much more seems to get done, and more easily, in the Web 2.0 world. But it's not work related! (mostly). I would love to find out more about in-house uses of these tools for business productivity.

    Maybe because Web 2.0 is easy and fun, it can't be work!

  4. Couldn't agree more. It all comes down to whether you respect your workforce or not. Many corporate environments I know lock their staff away from the internet altogether, and many scan incoming emails. In that climate of disrespect and distrust, Twitter is not likely to become acceptable any time soon.

  5. Anonymous8/2/09

    On campus, 2007 is required. All the professors are using 2007 PowerPoint. Newer grads won't even know older versions. Resistance seems futile.

  6. Anonymous20/3/10

    Two comments/observations. With Windows 3.1 MS pushed the Windows Interface. Many products still follow the manu bar/icon format.
    The sub menus didn't change very much, only how to get to them. No simple card tabs with radio buttons like Ami Pro had (which is a standard VB tool) for changing styles.
    So why? Why move away from a 15 year plus MS standard to one that often requires two or three clicks to do what used to be required with one?? The only reason that makes sense to me is a business one. To lock new users into the Office 2007 interface and make OpenOffice and Google Documents seen strange.