by Bob Wright
Since I wrote and published this review, I have received my copy of MS Office Pro 2000, the commercial release. I have to say right from the start that the changes I found were great.
The program installs requiring no more hard drive space than my MS Office97 and it is completely compatible with MS Office97, with none of those issues that cropped up between Office95 and Office97.
It has a great spell checker and all the new features that warrant the version upgrade. However, with that said, I still do not see any features that should entice you to spend the hundreds of dollars for the new version if MS Office97 is doing the job for you. I am also still unimpressed with the HTML based help system, though it is now noticeably faster than the early beta I tested.
MS Office Pro 200 is a clear winner and a great office suite for anyone interested in a new program. I still have to give it a thumbs down as an upgrade. Save your money and upgrade to the next version, if it warrants the investment.
Last November, Microsoft had a simple offer, beta test MS Office 2000 for under $20. I thought about it for five seconds and ordered the beta. You would think anyone who beta tested Windows95 would be gun shy of Microsoft beta products, but I have always been after new, bigger, better, faster and ordered the beta.
The one important issue for me was that I have used it since November with no ill effects, no system crashes, no incompatibility. I have read all the heart break similar users have experienced in the newsgroups and fortunately they have not effected me. A big thumbs up to Microsoft for not crashing my system with this beta product.
So, is there a good reason to 'migrate' from Office97 to Office2000? The only real reason I could find was to add all the new web features to your office suite, such as publishing directly to an Intranet or the Internet. The dictionary in Word is a superior improvement, along with the multi-item clipboard. There are a great many 'tweaks' to the entire set of programs that are nice, but in my opinion they could have more easily been added as a simple upgrade to Office97. The overall effect of MS Office2000 seems directed to integrate the suite to dynamically offering access to Intranets and the Internet. A nice touch, but obviously a network administrator's nightmare.
Okay, now the downside. You must know that here is where this article could become lengthy. I will keep it simple. I am not a user of MS Outlook for Email, mostly since the program is slow, boggy and I have never felt the need to organize my entire life in one program. Microsoft did not disappoint me with Office2000, they bloated up MS Outlook even farther, so I will continue to be a Eudora Pro user. I receive well over 400 emails a day and processing my email needs to be fast, easily configurable and simple, not a job for MS Outlook 2000.
Then there is the new help system, based on HTML. Pack a lunch if you decide to use it, waiting for it to come up was excruciatingly painful. Okay, the computer I used for the test is a PII-450 with 128mgs of ram and possibly used on a next generation PIII-650 system with 256mg of ram you will find it responsive. But, do not count on it and I am not interested in major hardware upgrades just to type a letter or publish a web page.
Overall, my opinion about Office 2000 is good in that they have left in tact all the wonderful features found in Office97, with many notable tweaks. PowerPoint, Access, Word, Excel, Publisher, FrontPage and Outlook are still high quality programs. But, when I consider that the upgrade from Office97 to Office2000 will cost from $249 to $999 depending upon which of the 5 versions you choose, I am hard pressed to recommend it.
Truly, Office2000 is aimed at large corporate America and integrating users into a single network environment. I can see the seminar and user education industry benefiting most from this new office suite.
If you are a home user or small business the cost to migrate, ( I just love that term, it makes me feel like a bird ), can hardly be justified by the added functionality. In a word, save your money. MS Office97 is still able to accomplish everything nearly all users need. Upgrading to Office2000 is more a status issue and less about actually achieving any real computing advantage.
MS Office 2000 web site