I guess we might as well start with the big one – I’ve downloaded and installed a trial version of Microsoft Office 2007 (I started out with Office Professional, but switched to Small Business when I had to do an unrelated reinstall.)  For all the versions and a comparison chart, see this page.  (Amazing how many versions of Vista and Office they are releasing – I suppose it is market segmentation at its finest, but to me, it just seems like an excuse to charge more…)  To try a beta yourself, go here…   But be warned – while you can have multiple copies of Word, Excel and Powerpoint on your computer at the same time, you can’t have multiple copies of Outlook, so if you are worried about losing your version of Outlook, check the box at the beginning not to install Outlook.  (From what I’ve seen, this is a one-time choice – I couldn’t find out how to go back and change it without uninstalling and reinstalling.)

That said, the only reason I was even interested in this is Outlook.  At work I had gotten used to Outlook 2003.  Even though I use Office 2002 at work,  I had installed Outlook 2003 from an abortive attempt at switching to a server (long story short, nobody else in the small office where I work could connect because they all had WinXP Home version – another successful market segmentation!)  and I liked 2003 a lot more than the 2002 version.  However, due to a hard drive failure, I lost it, and couldn’t reinstall because we got rid of the server.  Going back to Outlook 2002 was not fun, and to top it off, it was crashing all the time due to, I’m told, Symantec Fax, which I don’t have.  So I was anxious to upgrade Outlook.  The other programs in the suite were interesting from a trial perspective, but not really from a purchase perspective.  Word processing to me is a commodity – I used to use WordPerfect, and then Word, extensively, and got pretty good at them, but I’m not writing the same kind of reports anymore, and openoffice.org works just the same for light use, and is free! (My favorite kind of software.)

So, I’m not really interested in Word and PowerPoint – I tend to shy away from presentations in the first place, so openoffice is adequate for that as well –  and Access isn’t all that useful for me either.  I did want to see what the Accounting suite is like, as well as the “Business Contact Manager” that comes with Outlook in some of the suites (don’t bother with it, as it apparently requires a subscription, for which you can “get” some free services for registering, but it crashed my computer every time I tried to figure out how to use it, so I got rid of it.  I don’t like or trust the subscription services anyway.)   To be continued…