Live Previewing in Word

By David Coursey  |  Posted 2005-11-22 Print this article Print

and a Look at Outlook 12"> Live previewing of format changes takes a little getting used to, as your document changes as your cursor rolls over the various fonts and formatting options. If you dont make a selection, the feature disappears when you move the cursor away. This isnt a must-have feature, but it does make it easier to see what a proposed change will do.
Document themes are a nice feature that makes it easy to select—or change—all the fonts and colors in your document from one set to another. Word 12 is thus able to take advantage of the color printers available in most offices.
The feeling I have gotten while writing in Word 12 is that I am being given a workflow to follow, rather than continuing the ad hoc manner in which I used previous versions. This feeling may go away as moving from one tab to another becomes second nature, but right now, writing, laying out pages and reviewing my work feel like separate processes. Word 12 allows documents to be saved in the Adobe Acrobat PDF file format, a feature that is long overdue. The program does not, however, read PDF files for editing. Even at this early stage, Word 12 is a very nice word processor. Microsoft has succeeded in making the most used features more easily available, though some tweaking would certainly make sense. There are some changes, like moving the save, undo and redo buttons off the taskbar and increasing their size, that I hope Microsoft will make, but for which I dont immediately see a better alternative. Finally, it is easier to create a good-looking document in Office 12 than in any previous version of Word. Outlook: The Wide-Screen Release The big change in Outlook 12 is the addition of a Task Pane, providing access to your to-dos and a limited view of your calendar. The reason I call this the "wide-screen" version of Outlook is visible in the fourth illustration in this slideshow, a screenshot that was taken on my Dell notebook. Somehow, Outlook manages to make all the information mostly readable, but things sure are compressed. On my 19-inch desktop monitor, however, or a widescreen display, Outlook 12 would look just fine. Read about alternatives to Microsoft Office here. One complaint here is that since I dont use to-dos in Outlook, Id really rather see more calendar items than are currently displayed (no, the calendar window pane doesnt seem to slide down). What I like about the small calendar is that since meetings are always visible in Outlook I am less likely to forget them. Instant Search is a new feature that speeds the finding of Outlook information without forcing the user to leave the application. Ive been using desktop search for this, as the search in Office 2003 is quite slow. Instant Search isnt quite instantaneous, but it is fast enough to be useful, even in this beta. While the Outlook UI hasnt changed tremendously, the editing UI does take advantage of some of the tabs-and-ribbons features from Word. Outlook 12 is also better integrated with SharePoint servers, a compatibility that was depressingly partial in Office 2003. If there are other major changes to Outlook, I havent found them so far. Next Page: How not to release a beta.

One of technology's most recognized bylines, David Coursey is Special Correspondent for, where he writes a daily Blog ( and twice-weekly column. He is also Editor/Publisher of the Technology Insights newsletter and President of DCC, Inc., a professional services and consulting firm.

Former Executive Editor of ZDNet AnchorDesk, Coursey has also been Executive Producer of a number of industry conferences, including DEMO, Showcase, and Digital Living Room. Coursey's columns have been quoted by both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and he has appeared on ABC News Nightline, CNN, CBS News, and other broadcasts as an expert on computing and the Internet. He has also written for InfoWorld, USA Today, PC World, Computerworld, and a number of other publications. His Web site is

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