The Microsoft Office Suite is a widely used collection of productivity programs, suitable for personal, educational, and business use. Microsoft Office is available directly from Microsoft and a variety of other vendors, both online and off.
The Microsoft Office Suite comes in different collections to better fit the needs of consumers. The most current version--Office 2007 for Windows, and Office 2008 for Mac, is available in: Standard, Mobile, Small Business, Home and Student, Professional, Professional Plus, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions. To help determine the best option, there is a comparison of Office suites. Sixty day trials are provided directly from Microsoft for many of the collections, with the option to purchase or upgrade to another edition when the trial ends.
2007 features a re-designed user interface to make tasks easier, and keeps track of frequently used settings, documents, and templates to provide a more efficient experience. There are a variety of new add-ons that allow for a more customized experience, in addition to seamless integration between applications.
The programs found in various combinations for each version are: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Outlook, Outlook with Business Contact Manager, Access, Accounting, Communicator, Groove, InfoPath, and OneNote. These programs assist with word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, desktop publishing, email management, database, finances, and collaboration, along with data collection for electronic forms, and digital notebooks.
There are additional programs in the Microsoft Office line that only apply to certain business areas, so they are not included in any collection, and must be purchased separately in order to be used. These programs are: Project, SharePoint Designer, and Visio.
The newest version of all Office programs uses a new file extension that will not open with other versions of the program. Although the option to revert to the previous format is available, some features may be altered or unavailable. Microsoft provides free converters and viewers for those who use previous versions, and those who do not use Office at all. Program trials and add-ons are also available from Downloads.com.
Any of the programs may be purchased individually, although money is saved by purchasing one of the groups of programs. Licensing options vary with each version of the suite.