How to ease the transition to Office 2007

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Although it's a very good product, there is continuing user resistance when it comes to making the move to Microsoft Office 2007. Office 2007's brand new interface, a radical departure from previous versions, introduces serious user training issues into the upgrade project. Once the initial shock of the new interface wears off and people begin to use it, the new interface is actually pretty good. Personally, I've found myself lately switching back and forth between Word 2003 and Word 2007 and I much prefer the Office 2007 interface. Of course, I've used Office 2007 since it was in beta so I've had a very long time to adjust to the new system.

For users just being introduced to the new interface and particularly for power users that have deep knowledge of older Office interfaces, the move to Office 2007 can be shocking and frustrating, particularly if the upgrade is not accompanied by significant amounts of training. Proper training takes a lot of time and money. So, what do you do?

One possible solution is to use Classic Menu for Office 2007 from Addintools.com. The Addintools team has developed an add-in for Office 2007 that adds a tab to Office 2007 applications called Menus. On the Menus tab, the Addintools group completely replicates the menu system that was found in previous versions of Microsoft Office while at the same time preserving the native Office 2007 tabs. By deploying this add-in, you can allow your users to continue to use the Office menus they've come to know and love and ease into the new Office 2007 system -- they they want to -- at their own pace.

Now, some IT people might complain that this kind of add-in enables users to avoid learning the new interface. My take: Who cares? As long as users are able to get their jobs done and IT can continue to keep up with software updates, and the organization as a whole is able to make use of Office 2007's new and improved feature set, who cares how the user gets the job done as long as their method doesn't have negative consequences?

Classic Menu for Office 2007 also includes an administrative tool that allows administrators to decide which tabs will be shown in Office 2007.  You could decide, for example, to hide the new Office 2007 tabs and leave just the Menu tab if you want users to simply have an "Office 2003" experience.  The administrative application also provides you with a way to decide on an application-by-application basis whether or not you want to use the Classic Menu tool.  For example, you could decide that you want users to be able to use legacy menus for Word, but not for Excel.

Westminster College will be moving to Office 2007 campus-wide over the next few months.  We have purchased Classic Menu for Office 2007 to ease our transition and expect that it will help us tremendously.

Classic Menu is not a free product, but is not very expensive, either.  For more information, visit http://www.addintools.com.

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