Since I use Microsoft Office for many things—writing
articles and books, grading online assignments for the
University of Maryland University College (UMUC), sending
out personal and business letters—I found myself
wishing it had more online capability.
This is especially true when I’m working on MS
Office classes for UMUC and need to go over something
with students in regard to their assignments or when
I’m collaborating with an instructor I’m
assisting. Before upgrading to MS Office Professional
2003 (MSOP2003), I would receive and send an MS Office
project as an attachment via e-mail or posted in that
week’s conference on the UMUC Web site.
With the upgrade, I can do an online collaboration
with a student or instructor via NetMeeting, which was
available in previous versions but was confusing to
use. Now it’s much simpler, with easy-to-understand
instructions for you and whomever you want to work with
In fact, all the neat, new tools that were added to
Office XP (the previous version) are now much easier
to use. Maybe it’s the new look of the toolbars
(the graphics are much better and are easily recognizable
without having to place your mouse cursor on each one
to figure out what it is) or that the darned paperclip
guy (the office assistant) no longer automatically appears.
(You have to turn him on if you want to see him.) Or
it may be the much easier to understand instructions
for all the programs that are included, especially Access
2003, which I could never figure out before. Now I’m
putting together a database for WHOA (Working to Halt
Online Abuse), the online safety organization of which
I’m president, to better manage the cases we receive
MSOP2003 includes all the programs you’ll ever
need and probably some you’ll never use, but it’s
a great package and worth the upgrade price of $329
(I got it for $199 thanks to the education discount).
The MSOP2003 package includes Access 2003 (database
management), Excel 2003 (spreadsheet program), Outlook
2003 with Business Contact Manager (Microsoft’s
e-mail program), PowerPoint 2003 (multimedia presentations),
Publisher 2003 (desktop publishing and Web site creation),
and Word 2003 (word processing program).
Microsoft does offer other MS Office 2003 packages
with fewer programs, but MSOP2003 is perfect for the
self-employed, small or large business, or someone who
needs a full-service suite of programs.
The only program I don’t use in this suite is
Outlook because of the well-known security problems/holes.
Hackers and virus writers seem drawn to Outlook like
flies to honey. Until Microsoft can make Outlook completely
safe, I’ll stick with Eudora for my e-mail.
I use all the other programs—especially Word—for
writing, mailing lists, and schoolwork. And I can easily
e-mail any document once it’s done.
I use PowerPoint for the presentations I make about
cybercrimes. I especially like being able to add video
and Web site links that I can instantly go to during
my presentation. Going “live” seems to keep
the audience more interested.
I use Access, which I’ve already mentioned, and
I use Excel to coordinate and calculate WHOA’s
yearly cyberstalking statistics.
I use Publisher for creating invoices, flyers, business
cards, and other promotional print items. I also use
it to create Web pages. I have to admit I have a soft
spot for Publisher. It’s a nifty program that
quickly creates and publishes just about anything you
can imagine; you can then save it as a paper project
or as a Web site. You don’t have to know HTML
to use Publisher, and the included clipart is much better
than that of many of the other desktop publishing programs
available. The variety of templates included is excellent
In addition to the programs that come with the retail
package, you can also download a lot of online goodies
(all of these are free):
- Hundreds of additional clipart broken down into
- Hundreds of templates for all kinds of print and
online projects for the office and home
- Office Web Components, an add-in that allows you
to publish interactive data from Access or Excel for
your Web site/page
- MSN Money Stock Quotes, which allows you to get
refreshable custom stock quotes from the MSN Money
Web site for Excel 2003
- Video e-mail for Outlook (you need a Web camera
to use this)
- PST Backup for Outlook, which automatically backs
up your .PST folders
- List Builder Output, which lets you send and manage
your e-mail campaign for marketing newsletters created
- Additional PowerPoint templates in three separate
- Microsoft Producer, which helps you capture, synchronize,
and publish audio, video, slides, and images for PowerPoint
- Online assistance and training for each Office
component, with tips, hints, and even an online column
by the “Crabby Office Lady”
The following goodies (which can be found at the official
MSOP2003 Web site at http://office.microsoft.com)
cost extra, but if you’re on the road a lot, they
could be worth it:
Now for my gripes, or wish list.
- OfficeSMS 2003, which allows you to send and receive
SMS (text) messages from Outlook, Word, or Excel (free
trial is available at http://www.redoxygen.com)
- Infone—you can access your e-mail via Outlook
using Infone (89 cents up to 15 minutes, then 5 cents
per minute thereafter)
- RepliGo, which converts documents so that you can
view them on your mobile device (cell phone, PDA,
etc; free trial at http://www.cerience.com/officemarketplace)
- PhoneAlarms, which lets you receive Outlook reminders
via your cell phone (free trial at http://www.phonealarms.com/msjumppage.htm)
I wish Microsoft would fix Outlook, as I mentioned
before. I don’t know why it’s so insecure.
It has a lot of features and functionality I would love
to take advantage of, but the fear of viruses, trojans,
or hackers prevents me from installing it.
And I wish Microsoft would stop putting the year in
the title of the software! Even though this is technically
Microsoft Office Professional 2003, it didn’t
start appearing in stores until 2004.
Make the upgrade prices lower. Even the Standard edition
is more than $200. That’s a lot of money for most
folks, and they’ll wait until the next version
comes out to get the current one at a cheaper rate.
Do people really use the office assistant/paperclip
guy? Can’t we just get rid of him?
Put some of the add-ins/downloads from the Web site
into the program instead of making users go to the Web
site to get them.
That’s a short list of gripes, and for good reason:
Microsoft is finally putting out a product that I can
truthfully say is something I need, plus it’s
easy to use—and easy to understand! The upgrade
is definitely worth purchasing. I previously used Corel’s
Office suites but have now switched for good to Microsoft
I do have a suggestion for Microsoft. My idea of the
perfect Microsoft Office would be a custom-made version.
Make each program available for sale on separate CDs.
Do the same with templates. Not everyone uses the business
templates, so separate those from the home/fun ones.
Do the same with the clipart. Then customers can pick
and choose and pay only for what they really want.
Hey, I said it was my wish list.
In the meantime, order a trial CD of MSOP2003 at http://www.microsoft.com/office/editions/prodinfo/trial.mspx
for just $7.95. You get 30-day trial versions of all
the programs in the suite. And you can convert the trial
into the full version online, which is very nice.
Office Professional 2003
Full version: $499
(Includes Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint & Word)
Full version: $399
Requirements for MSOP2003
128 MB RAM
400 MB hard disk space
CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive
Super VGA (400 x 600) video card
Windows 2000 with Service Pack 3, Windows XP or
Optional: Soundcard w/speakers;
Jayne Hitchcock is
a freelance writer and the author of Net
Crimes & Misdemeanors. Her Web site