2007 Microsoft Office system Beta

Note the lower case “s”. I’m such a good shill.

Today Microsoft announced that they would be conducting an experiment to see if their beta serves could be made to explode. To achieve this seemingly impossible result, they announced the public beta for not one, not two, but three products at the same time. Not just any products, mind you, but their three most popular products.

One of those products is known as 2007 Microsoft Office system, but many “retailers” on the streets of Hong Kong are referring to it as Office 2007 Super Happy Fun. I urge all of you to download this beta as soon as possible. I won’t be attempting it until Thursday night and it would be a big help if you all got out of my way by then.

You can read the press release.

If you just want the highlights, though, here they are:

He demonstrated how [these products] will drive innovation across the industry and support the rich ecosystem of hardware manufacturers…

Ecosystem? Honestly, do these guys even consider the meaning of the words they use? Or do they just string a bunch together that sound good? The sooner the adjective “rich” is out of the Microsoft lexicon, the better. And just how did he “demonstrate” all this?

Did I say they? Well there was only one highlight and that was a bit of a stretch.

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20 thoughts on “2007 Microsoft Office system Beta

  1. Hi,

    Managed to download this today. There doesn’t seem to be any Excel VBA help files, which is a shame since I wanted to started rummaging around for something interesting. There must be something interesting in here, mustn’t there? Surely.

  2. Graham, try setting the option to use the internet help. Press F1 to bring up the Help window, then click the little green ball in the bottom right corner. There should be a “show contents from Office online” option. But even that help isn’t complete. I went straight for the What’s New section and got “no results available.”

    Unfortunately, the VB Editor is exactly the same. The object model has been updated to accommodate the new features. But I’m finding that macro compatibility is far from perfect.

    If you want something interesting, try playing around with chart formatting. You can now spend hours tweaking your charts. As far as I can tell, there are exactly zero new charting features, but they sure piled on the cosmetics.

    BTW, I’m updating my books for Excel 2007, and the most difficult part is trying to describe the UI options. I try to avoid writing things like “little green ball,” but I don’t know how else to describe some of this stuff.

  3. Windows XP provide us with an option to use ‘Classic UI (to some extend). Can anyone provide me with information where that option is available for Office 2007? Or will it be another item to place on my annoying list?

    Kind regards,

  4. J-walk, to be consistence with MS you’ll have to call it something like
    “A visually organically rich micro orb, client access interface element”
    Oh and you should probably add that although a normal button is fine the new micro orb “Technology” !? provides a richer interface which is more intuitive and easier for the user to use.

    “Ecosystem? Honestly, do these guys even consider the meaning of the words they use? Or do they just string a bunch together that sound good? The sooner the adjective “rich” is out of the Microsoft lexicon, the better. And just how did he “demonstrate” all this?”

    No I dont think so and it’s very Annoying, not to mention the fact that it’s misleading/wrong! Porthole is one that i dislike a lot, surly it a hosting service!

  5. Dennis –

    Here’s how you get the classic Office interface in two easy steps:

    1. Uninstall Office 2007.
    2. Reinstall Office 2003.

    – Jon

  6. J-walk – where I come from, people have been calling those symbols “meatballs” (like the VBE break indicator). The fact that the meatball is green has some unfortunate implications, however.

  7. Hi,

    Thanks for the tip John, but I’m still not sure whether help isn’t available fully with the Beta, or whether it’s so well hidden I just can’t find it. I hated Excel 2003’s system of help so much I made shortcuts to the CHM files in the 1033 folder to my desktop. It seems this beta isn’t shipped with CHM files – I hope the final version will be, or I’ll have to shoot myself trying to find anything. Maybe they don’t use CHM files anymore? Anyway, for example, can anyone tell me where to see that nice diagram of the object model? Either online or locally?



  8. Beta 1 didn’t have help files either. I didn’t expect to see them included this time around. Perhaps they’re still finishing the object model?


  9. J-walk and Alex – If “meatball” is acceptable then “pea” is better for “little green ball”.


  10. I’m wondering, i have installed the new Office 2007 beta 2, i haven’t figured out, where is the solver, the analysis toolpak, or where can I call the form toolbar to place some buttons to do some Excel programming, you still can’t do a data validation list in another worksheet without using a named List.

    Kind regards,

  11. To draw buttons on worksheets:
    – Select the ‘Fat’ button in the left top corner of the main window
    – Click on the Excel Options button
    – Check the option Show developer tab in the Ribbon

    Activate ATP & Solver
    – In the same window as above choose Add-ins and
    – Select Excel add-in in the Manage Combobox
    – Click on the Go… button

    Kind regards,

  12. Nasty … My Excel Automation VBA routines that run on Excel 97 to Excel 2003 fail on the 2007 Beta.

    It doesn’t understand .characters.text but does understand .text

    It has problems with SetSourceData and PlotArea.Interior

    Anyone got workarounds? How do I report this to Microsoft??

    The “Record Macro” function misses instructions and records invalid ones ….

    The Beta is definitely not ready for prime time for my customers ….

  13. Mike –

    There are two areas of Office 2007 which to me are glaringly inadequate: Excel charting and the inflexible inefficient unproductive user interface. I have tested the charting extensively and have run into the issues you describe and many others. I know that the Excel team is working like hell to try to fix the charting issues. I don’t believe the Office people think there’s anything wrong with their user interface.

    I don’t have workarounds, and won’t waste my time developing any until I know what defects made it into the final product. One workaround that comes to mind is don’t uninstall Office 2003.

    Microsoft indicates that you can report bugs informally through their community newsgroups (http://cpearson.com/excel/DirectConnect.htm).

    – Jon

  14. Jon,

    I’ve been following your, Stephen Bullen’s and other’s statements of concerns about the overbearing, uncustomizable, difficult-to-program user interface on the Jensen Harris/Microsoft blog. Although you as a group have expressed these concerns repeatedly and clearly, I haven’t seen any response from Microsoft. Can you say if say if they have responded to these concerns, or at least acknowledged them, elsewhere, in any way?

    For me, the one big benefit of 2007 that I would like to have is the improved conditional formatting. But I don’t need a million rows or thousands of columns – I rarely venture beyond Z1000 – so at this point I can’t imagine upgrading to 2007. The lost ability to make simple, small Excel applications for myself and other users easily outweighs any benefits that I can see. But for those of you who have been asking for the increased space – for years and years – this tradeoff must be very difficult. (BTW, I did try to go to cell A1000000 or whatever and found that the beta still only has 65536 rows.)

  15. Doug,

    Office 2007 does have more than 65536. The workbook that you had was in “Compatible mode”, that’s why you only saw 65536. If you create a new workbook, you’ll see the big grid.

  16. Doug –

    My first exposure to customizing the Ribbon interface was at a presentation by Savraj Dhanjal, where he showed how all the XML stuff worked when using VSTO and VB.Net or C#. He didn’t show any VBA examples, either because he ran out of time, or there weren’t any. This shows that a lot of Office big shots don’t really understand their developer-users.

    The only real response about the customizability of the ribbon is covered in J-Walk’s post today in this same blog:


    When I get a chance, I will try their tool. A smart guy named Patrick Schmid has also been working on such a tool, and I need to test his out at the same time. I’m hoping that between these, we’ll be able to overcome some of the problems with the interface.

    Ironically, a week before I first saw Excel 12’s funky new conditional formatting, I built a small program to do much the same as the Data Bar CF. It drawa multiple rectangles right in the worksheet, with fill and border colors, positions, and sizes dictated by values in various columns. I am very impressed with the Excel version, because it requires no programming. But keep in mind that a little VBA goes a long way toward providing non-native functionality.

    – Jon

  17. Okay, nice try, but I give up. I feel like I’m back in Win98. AND, the “save in 2003 format” doesn’t exactly save in 2003 format.

    Microsoft, please call me when the development is complete.

    Now, how do I uninstall it?!?!? It’s not all in ‘add.remove progs’

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