Microsoft Releases Vista and Outlook 2007

February 5th, 2007 by Adam

Windows Vista and Office 2007

Microsoft released new versions of their operating system and Office application suite in February. As with most major software releases, new form and function are often associated with incompatibilities with other applications. We are well-advised to bide our time and let the software industry adapt accordingly. PSU will not be upgrading employee computers for either product until the fall, if then.

We’ve been testing the new products. While there are many positive aspects to Vista and Office, we find that they pose a learning curve. We’re all going to have some work to do to prepare.

For faculty and staff, upgrades to Vista and Outlook 2007 will be months away, probably over the summer for some. These upgrades will render many older computers obsolete or, at best, slow. They require significant compatibility testing with the vast array of other PSU applications. Additionally, the upgrade for Microsoft Office (the suite that includes Word, Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint), will necessitate retraining for most employees. Our testing has found numerous changes and reconfiguration of what’s been fairly well known product.

In Word, for instance, many of us have used the product for years. We know where all the commands and formatting functions exist in the menu system. The new version of Word has re-jiggered the menus into what they now call ribbons. While intelligent, they are less-than-intuitive. Until you learn how it works, you simply cannot sit down to your computer, write, format and go. The same holds true for Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. You may find it frustrating while you search for the tools/functions that you’ve known so well.

ITS is preparing an information and training program for the months ahead. We’ll have in-class and online options. For now, for those of you anxious to use the new products, please be patient. It has become one of our highest priorities for the next twelve months.
While we can hold off upgrades to employee computers, students and others who purchase new computers will have Vista pre-installed, and most likely Office2007 as well. Our Learning Commons technical staff will be there to support you as best we can. Get ready, however, because we’re sure you’re going to experience the challenges of being an early adaptor.

If you are considering purchase of a new computer, we suggest you talk with the PSU Computer Store. They can help you understand the implications and issues around what you will experience. Most important is to understand that documents you save in the new format cannot be read by earlier versions unless the recipient gets a translater. (contact helpdesk@plymouth.edu) If you can wait another semester to buy a new computer, you’d be well-advised.

For a concise summary of new Vista features, click here. http://www.eweek.com/slideshow/0,1206,pg=0&s=25951&a=199829,00.asp

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Using Microsoft Vista on Campus

Please be aware of the current limitations of using the new Vista operating system on campus.

ITS has engineered a reliable pre-clearing system which includes an automatic anti-virus installer in order to provide a safe computing environment for all. Machines without our version of anti-virus software are not allowed network access.

With the launch of Vista , many software companies are still rushing to come out with Vista-compatible programs; including anti-virus programs. Our anti-virus vendor, McAfee, is currently still developing an installer for their newest anti-virus program. As such, we are currently unable to provide seamless automatic protection to Vista machines. While ITS will strive to help first early adapters, it is likely that Vista machines will encounter network access problems until McAfee releases their installer program to PSU.

Faculty and staff members who use VPN software should also note that currently, our VPN software is not Vista-compatible. It would be impossible to access any network resources that require VPN with a Vista machine now.

As with any new operating system release, these early challenges should dissipate in time. We will follow up with more communications in the months ahead.