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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Windows 7 and Word 2010

It's a good thing yesterday wasn't a blogging day or y'all would have been subjected to another rant about authors who can't handle the simplest computer thing. Come on, people, you'd expect your surgeon to keep up with the tools of his trade and not use a scalpel if he could perform a laser surgery instead, right? So why don't you learn to use the tools that go with your job? Um, stopping here because this is becoming a rant already. Since I don't want to do this, I will review the elements on my computer that pertain to writing either directly or indirectly.

Windows 7 Operating System (OS): Awesome! Yes, authors, it is different than XP, but give it a chance. Buying a new computer and loading XP because you're afraid of Win7 is not a good idea. Either roll with the technology wave or the ocean will move past you and you'll be left alone in the desert. Win7 is much easier to use than XP. Really. It's also more intuitive. IMO, it's the best Windows OS yet and I've used most of them.

I could understand loading XP to avoid Vista, but not Win7. BTW, while I'm not a Vista fan, I never had any problems with it and I just turned off the things that annoyed me. But then I'm a power user and not afraid of getting into areas that novice users and technophobe authors should avoid. :-)

So what is awesome about Win7 aside from how it looks? (And it is pretty.) I love that I can pin the files I use all the time to the program. That means all I have to do is right click the program pinned to my bottom bar and the files I've chosen to pin are there. (Pinning a file is as easy as clicking your mouse. Not at all difficult to do.) I frequently have WordPerfect files for projects I'm not actively working on at the moment, but that having quick access to would be nice and now I do. I just pin them. No more clicking down list levels to find the story I began six months ago and dropped to work on something else.

I also love how easy it is to add a folder. I am a folder whore because I don't want to scan through fifty million files to find the one I want. It's also more organized to have folders. For example: Writing-->WordPerfect-->Light Warriors-->Darkest Night-->Synopsis All my synopsis attempts are in this folder and I can instantly find any version I want because they're all together. Windows 7 offers the "Create Folder" option right at the top of Windows Explorer. This is fab.

What I don't love about Win7? I absolutely loathe the thumbnail feature. With this feature, if you put your cursor over an open program on the bottom bar, it will show you a thumbnail of all the open files in this program. I hate this with the fire of a thousand suns. It's solely related to how I use my computer. I don't want to see the cursor when I'm working in a program, so I've always dragged it down to the bottom bar to keep it off whatever I was looking at. When I do it now, those stupid thumbnails show up.

I never, ever want to see the thumbnail and there's no way to turn this off. I checked. I did, however, go into my registry (Novice users do not do this.) and adjust it to take about 10 minutes to trigger. It's not perfect, but it's better. I wish Microsoft would give me a way to turn this off. It's annoying that they don't.

This is a minor annoyance in an otherwise good OS. If you're getting a new computer, get Win7 and do not load XP instead. Once you get used to it, you'll love it.

Word 2010: Yes, I upgraded because I had an offer through work. I have the entire Office suite, but I haven't used any program extensively except Word since I put it on, so can't really review them, but of all the Words I've been forced to work in, 2010 is about the best. Again, 2007 and 2010 are different than 2003 and earlier, but once I got used to it, I liked it.

Visually, 2007 is more appealing to me than 2010. I also find Outlook 2010 even more frustrating than Outlook 2007, and I wasn't fond of Outlook 2007, but this is about Word, not my email troubles. :-)

What do I like so much about Word 2010? It's much, much, much easier to convert my WordPerfect files before I submit my projects than in any other version of Word. :-) Yes, it's all about me. WordPerfect is still far superior to any version of Word, but unfortunately most of the world is locked into Microsoft Office and so I'm forced to use it, too. Before someone suggests it's only the fact that I'm unfamiliar with Word that makes me dislike it so, let me mention that I routinely work in Office at my day job, and not only have I had classes for Word, I work in it all the time. The only thing Word does better than WordPerfect is labels. Truly.

But I digress. Again. Word 2007 and 2010 are so different from the previous versions that sometimes it's not easy for me to find the way to do the things I'd like to do, but the help function is actually, believe it or not, helpful! I know! It shocked me, too. But it's extremely easy to learn how to do something and I made liberal use of it yesterday when I couldn't find what I was looking for.

It's kind of a pain to click around to the different tabs on the ribbon, but I'm used to tabbed internet browsing, so even though I get frustrated when I'm on the wrong tab for what I want to do, I can deal with it. Yesterday, I needed to convert a WordPerfect file into Word and it did it. Without messing up my formatting! This was awesome. Now if Microsoft would just give me the option of creating my own cover page, it would have been even better. I could only find templates to drop in and Create Your Own wasn't one of them. If there is a way to do this, please let me know.

Anyway, I can recommend 2010 for an upgrade. I like it better than 2007, which was better than all the previous versions of Word IMO.

I've already geeked out about how much I love OneNote, but I haven't had a chance to play with this yet in 2010 (I just upgraded 2 weeks ago). It's supposed to have some cool new features, so as I research my next project, I'm going to explore it more fully.

To sum up: Microsoft is making some real progress in its core programs and the latest in OS and Word are big steps forward. This is all my opinion, and believe me, I'm not a huge Microsoft fan, so I'm not shilling for them. Besides, clinging to old systems (Word 2000? Really? That was like the worst version I've used) isn't helpful. Not upgrading because of cost is one thing, but to buy a new computer and load old, old software on it because you're afraid of new stuff.... Well, this is why I get so frustrated with some authors. Technology is changing. If you don't keep up with it, you'll be left behind. End of mini-rant.