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Word 2004

Product: Microsoft Word 2004
Company: Microsoft
Website: http://www.microsoft.com/mac
Estimated Street Price:
Review By: Byron Hinson

What's New?

General New Features:

  • Project Center: Manage your projects more efficiently by accessing all of your project-related e-mail messages, files, notes, contacts and schedules in one convenient place.

  • Project Gallery: Quickly find the documents youíve worked on recently in the gallery, and use the new Learn tab to find instructive sample documents.

  • Toolbox: Quickly access Compatibility Reports, your Scrapbook and the Project Palette from Word, Excel or PowerPoint 2004.

  • Compatibility Reports: Seamlessly share files and project information with almost anyone on a Mac or PC. Now you can quickly identify and resolve version- and platform-related compatibility issues.

  • Unicode Support: Now you can display most non-Roman fonts with ease and take advantage of the long file name capabilities built into Mac OS X.

  • Save Image to File: Save embedded graphics to a separate graphics file in GIF, JPEG, JPEG 2000, PNG, PSD or AppleWorks Graphic format.

  • Formatting Palette Transparency: Make the Formatting Palette translucent so that it no longer obscures your underlying document.

  • Error Reporting: Automatically generate and send an error report to Microsoft for analysis if an Office 2004 application crashes.

Word 2004 Specific New Features:

  • Notebook Layout View: Flag important entries, search for key words and phrases, and even record time-stamped audio into your notes as you type.
  • Improved Track Changes: Color-coded balloons make it easier to track edits. MSNģ Messenger for Mac version 4.0 integration lets you start chats and send files from within Word. You can even accept or reject changes from the comment balloon
  • Enhanced Reference Tools: Access a dictionary, a thesaurus and a link to the Microsoft Encarta online encyclopedia right from the Office Toolbox.
  • Navigation Pane: Quickly scan and navigate through your document with the improved document map and thumbnail view.
  • Styles Improvements: Enhancements include a redesigned user interface, a section for styles on the Formatting Palette and support for List and Table styles.
  • Smart Buttons: Gain more control over your documents with the option to instantly accept or decline automatic corrections, bulleting and numbering.

So How Is It?

There is little doubt that when Office X came out, it had everyone who used Office talking, it was finally a fantastic version of Office on the Mac, and not only that, it was actually better than the PC version that was available at the time. The whole look and feel of Office improved from then onwards; now in 2004 we have the latest version.

From the first looks at Office 2004, it feels like not a great deal has changed. The layouts are the same, yes there are a few new icons and such like but nothing as major as was seen in Office V.x. But there isn't really a need for such major UI changes as the last time, simply because what was created then, is still excellent now.

Iíve chosen to start the review with Word 2004, simply due to the fact that it is likely to be the application that gets the most use from users. The main new feature here is the Notebook view, this is a new member of the View menu, it joins what is already there (Online, Page and Outline Views layouts) and is designed to look like a notebook. You get a heading section at the top of each page when you are in the Notebook view; from there date and time get added automatically. When you first start a Notebook, word creates three tabbed pages from which more can be added if you want to.

The features do not end here though; Notebook lets you record audio alongside your typed notes. Meanwhile, you can track the notes you make via a timeline, which is synchronised, with the recorded audio. I feel this is an excellent feature. When you create your note it can be turned into sub-notes and grouped up with others.

The track changes feature definitely brings Mac Word users up to level that Windows users have been for a while now. You get the colour-coded comment balloons that announce who has added any changes to an item you are writing. Track Changes also now integrates with MSN Messenger, so when changes are made to a project, those involved can start to send messages directly from a Track Changes message.

How It Grades
Installation: 93%
Ease Of Use: 90%
Design: 92%
Features: 94%
Options: 93%
Help Files: 92%
Price: 90%
Overall: 93%

There are a lot of other little improvements here and there that add to the enjoyment of Word 2004, things like how it asks how you want something pasted or how the formatting palette is transparent (ahhh the little things). But all in all this is another excellent and improved outing for Word on the Mac, and if you are still using Office 9 on the Mac then this is clearly a must buy. If you have Office X then I would suggest trying out the test drive version first, but there are enough improvements here in Word 2004 to validate the upgrade price.


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