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What’s New in Microsoft Office

Tue, 20 Jan 2015

We all know the core Microsoft Office programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook) are a set of incredibly useful and user friendly tools that make life in business so much easier.  Anyone reading that statement that currently uses these programs might laugh at the phrase “user friendly”, and I can well understand why, especially since Microsoft made the move to the new Office interface in 2007 (and subsequently in 2010 and 2013).

Those of you who have been using the programs for years may have found the change to the new way of working frustrating, time consuming and, dare I say it, annoying!

So why did Microsoft change the software so radically between the 2003 and 2007 versions? As an experienced user of the software and an IT trainer here at Insight IT, I well understand the frustration and annoyance caused by this change, but I get where they are coming from.

Let’s take Microsoft Excel for example. This program is fundamentally a huge, sophisticated calculator. So why, in 2003, was there nowhere on the screen that said “click here to do a calculation”?  If you didn’t know where to go you got completely lost. However, in the new versions, there’s a whole area devoted to Excel calculations, which you can find in the Formulas tab.

Similarly, a very useful feature of Microsoft Word is the Mail Merge function.  In 2003 this was hidden under the Tools menu.  In the new versions it has its own Mailings tab.

Thankfully, the new versions are much more intuitive, you just need to take time out to read the screen. Insight IT trained someone a few years ago who had never used Excel before. She had started her job the week before and they had booked a day of one to one Excel 2010 training to get her up and running.  Her first question was “How come no one else can use Excel 2010?”.  It transpired that all her colleagues were still using 2003.  If they had to use her computer to access spreadsheets, they used to complain that they couldn’t find anything.  As this lady had no previous experience with Excel, and therefore no preconceived ideas, she just looked at the screen, read everything and told them where to find what they were looking for. She’d never seen the program before, but that was to her advantage.  It just goes to show how Microsoft have improved Excel over the years, for the better!

Here’s some sound advice from Insight IT Training.  If you find the programs annoying in their new format, take a few minutes out to look at and read the screen. Time spent reading, instead of clicking and searching, will be repaid in the future as the system will start to make sense and you will find things much more easily.

If you’re still not convinced, carry on reading, as this is what happened to me when I first used Excel 2007. Don’t forget that I’m an IT Trainer, and train people on programs every day!   At the time, I had nearly 20 years’ experience of using the programs.  Anyway, back to the story.  I was in a rush to get a file to a client that was needed for a meeting . I knew she was printing it out, so I wanted to send it in landscape not portrait.  It took me 20 minutes to find where to change the page from portrait to landscape because I was expecting it to be in File, Page Setup as it used to be.  After 20 minutes of frustration, getting increasingly irate and irritated, I stopped clicking randomly everywhere and looked at the screen. I read the tabs and suddenly there it was – PAGE LAYOUT!  I felt a little bit silly to say the least but, as a trainer, it taught me an incredibly important lesson.

That experience made me realise that we needed to create a Microsoft Office Upgrade course.  It didn’t need to be a whole day, just 2 or 3 hours would be sufficient for a group of up to 8 people.  During our short courses, we explain how the programs work now, whether it be PowerPoint, Outlook, Word or Excel. Once you get the principle it doesn’t matter which program you are working with, it’s always the same approach.

Insight IT’s Office Upgrade courses have proved popular and very successful. Companies deciding to rollout the new version of the software, to everyone at the same time, have found it incredibly useful to organise the training at the same time. This case study below, one of our customers exemplifies the many benefits of Office Upgrade training.

The client was rolling out Office 2007 to 200 users over the course of a weekend. They ran a pilot group of about 10 users during the planning phase and, from the feedback, realised that it wasn’t that straightforward. The pilot users were finding it incredibly difficult to get used to the programs and to find things they normally did without thinking.

They contacted Insight IT Training and, together, we planned the training to take place in the 2 weeks before the rollout. Everyone was offered a 3 hour session, during which we would cover Excel, Word, Outlook and (if required) PowerPoint. The focus of the sessions was on making sure people were comfortable with the new interface and understood how to approach using the new version. What I found interesting was that I had several of the pilot users attend the training, just to see if they could pick up anything they hadn’t already figured out for themselves.  All of them said that they found it extremely useful and that, although they’d managed to find things in the end, before the training it didn’t really make sense.

I spoke to the IT Manager after the rollout, the IT team were ready for problems with people not being able to find commonly used features.  They received very few calls and were generally amazed that the rollout had gone so smoothly.

In contrast to this, I usually deliver training for companies that have upgraded people to the new version as and when they replace their computer.  The first few minutes of these sessions are always spent explaining how the program works.  Once people realise how much easier the new versions are to use, they are astonished that they never figured it out themselves, or that it was never explained to them in the first place.

By way of training, Insight IT also offer training in Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Short 1 to 3 hour courses are also available for these software packages.

Tailored training

If you want a bespoke course with tailored content, we can do this for you and the best bit is that it’s free of charge!  Simply “Pick and Mix” the topics you want from the outlines and send us a “Wish List”.  We will then send you a Skills Assessment Form to complete.  If you’d like one of our trainers to call you to discuss what you want to achieve from the training, we would be more than happy to do this.  You can then sit back whilst we create a course content for your approval.

Get the New Year off to a good start!

Insight IT Training is offering a 15% discount off any Microsoft Office training that takes place before the end of March 2015.

Contact us now for a price and more information on how Insight IT Training can help you or call on 01527 61451 or 08452 306099.

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