With Office 2007 TR Make Sure to Look (Here) Before You Leap

A couple of weeks away from the heart of the action has done wonders for me. And I seem to have regained my lost enthusiasm about working with new software. Let’s lead with the biggest software release in the past week.

Microsoft Office 2007 Beta 2 Technical Refresh (Office 2007 B2TR) is a complete overhaul of the venerable office suite. It features new product and menu icons. Along with a redesigned ribbon featuring a richer, more organized menu that’s way easier to transition to when compared to the Office 2007 Beta 2 version. There’s also a new Silver (gray actually) theme that seems developed for LCD displays as it looks quite washed out on my high-resolution CRT (Phillips Brilliance 107P) monitor. More details about what’s changed and what’s new at Jensen Harris’ Office User Interface Blog.

Unfortunately there’s no simple way to update from Beta 2 To Beta 2TR. Except by downloading a 495 MB install file. Then installing this over the previous Beta 2 (if installed). If you missed out on the free Beta 2 version, you can install the new Beta 2 TR by paying $1.50 for a serial number.

But don’t be in too much of a hurry to download and install the Office 2007 B2TR upgrade. As there are several issues when upgrading between the two Beta versions. First and foremost is a near-complete incompatibility between the file formats. Where files saved in previous Office 2007 Betas won’t open in Beta 2TR!

Forewarned is forearmed but after I rushed to install the new Beta refresh at work. I found that Excel files with embedded comments were marked as damaged. And all my Word 2007 .docx files had to be recovered. And make sure to bookmark Patrick Schmid’s blog on Office 2007 B2TR Issues.

I advise you to re-save all files created in DOCX, XLSX and PPTX to the Office 97-2003 file formats of DOC, XLS and PPT before installing B2TR. The Unicode PST format used by Outlook 2003 and 2007 is the odd man out and remains unaffected. Probably because it wasn’t converted to an XML-friendly format. I recall similar issues in the OpenOffice.org suite but those weren’t so productivity-stifling!

Thunderbird 2 Beta 1 introduces new user interface
Also new this week is a new Thunderbird 2 Beta 1 build. This introduces new icons and a revised Options dialog quite similar to that introduced in Firefox 2. There seem to be other under the hood improvements. But these aren’t noticeable. There’s more about what planned over at the Mozilla WiKi page for Thunderbird 2.

If you use the Portable Thunderbird 2 version (ZIP; 8 MB), you can upgrade the Thunderbird core engine. Begin by downloading the Zipped version of the new Beta. Then extracting the content into the %PortableThunderbird%Appthunderbird folder. Make sure to back the original files in case of an error. And replace all files with the updated versions. Then double-click the Portable Thunderbird launcher to run the new version.

I do advise that the first order of business is to open the Options > Advanced > Update then disable the Thunderbird Update check box. As I found the nightly build crashes after its been updated. This behaviour doesn’t happen if you don’t use the Portable Thunderbird version.

That’s it for now. Stay Safe!

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