And so it begins…
Today I start my long path down the road of using Office 2007. I decided to try this new Blog feature that I have read so much about in recent weeks. A dip of the toe in a very large pool if you will allow the analogy. I also stuck my head in briefly into Outlook and was quite surprised to see what has and hasn’t changed. If you’re an Outlook 03 junkie then you’re going to love the new Mobile options. Contacts is more visually easier to understand as well. And the wider your monitor the better as you will be able to see and interact with so much more than a traditional square/block style format.
But let’s hop back to Word for the moment. One thing I am noticing off the cuff is that using spell check on the fly throws your focus around the screen. Mind you I am using Zoom Text as my first victim and it’s easily the worst program I could use at this early stage of the game. JFW/Magic will be next on the wheel of torture and I think they will perform much better than ZT. And my physical focus is still in the document. My view is being tossed around the screen when I make alterations. No real tracking as I create this either but again this is a worst case scenario to the tenth power.
The wife loves the new Office. She found it very intuitive and she took to the Ribbon quickly. She was doing things in PowerPoint that I haven’t seen it do before in mere seconds. She told me that from the sighted perspective she could easily see options open up on various parts of the screen. This encouraged her to explore and try the various styles of format on the fly without harming her original document. So in one session she confirmed what millions of dollars in product testing and tons of reviews have already told me. And sadly it also confirms the fears I spoke of earlier in that it’s a whole new landscape for those of us with visual impairments to learn. It is true that most MS Office 2003 hotkeys work which lessens some of the blow, however, learning how those keys and their commands react in the new environment can be a bit of a head scratcher.
Still this is a Beta.. things as always could change.. and more than likely they will.. sigh..
I have gone back and edited this post a bit via Blogger. The default settings of Word 07 put a ton of space between paragraphs and the header. And now I know and "knowing is half the battle" right? Also I was correct in that the latest betas of Freedom Scientific products ran a whole lot better than Zoom Text alone. That was my guess all along but it's better to be sure before I blog that info. Try as I might though some aspects of Outlook will just have to be modified as some Auto Preview features aren't being spoken at all.
I have also been told that if your a Window Eyes user you want to use their latest beta builds for Office 07 as well. Just be prepared from some options of Office not to be spoken as there isn't any hooks to latch onto in some parts of Outlook and Word.