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I'm writing about Office 12 beta 1 and as well as checking the software out and reading the Office 12 blogs by the developers I've been looking at the coverage by other writers. There's plenty of discussion of the new interface and whether it's just old wine in a new bottle, but the criticims of the persisting features aren't the ones I'd expect. I'm unhappy about limitaitions that I can't change. In Outlook 12 you still have to remember to explicitly check the spelling in the subject field in email, you can drag text into the subject of an appointment but not into the location and you still have to create appointments in a different time zone by working the time difference out yourself. I don't like that, especially as it would be so easy to fix those problems.

But PC Magazine complains that "Word and Excel still perform automated changes that you may not want or expect". I don't want software changing things behind my back without warning, but actually AutoCorrect hasn't worked like that since Word 2000 and even then you could press Ctrl-Z to change a change back and edit the AutoCorrect list to stop the change. Word 2002 (XP), 2003 and 12 all have the AutoCorrect Options Smart Tag so if you don't spot the change until afte you've carried on typing you can still undo it. Hover your mouse over the changed text, click on the tag that appears and either undo the correction or tell Word not to change it ever again. That works for anything AutoCorrect does, from fixing two capitals at the beginning of a sentence to changing hyphens at the beginning of lines into bulleted lists. It's a very simple way of using AutoCorrect; you don't have to go find the list or edit individual entries. No software is going to know what you want every time but this way you can stop the changes that irritate you without losing all the advantages of having mis-typings fixed for you. Same goes for PowerPoint and Excel. if you're going to beat up Microsoft about broken features, pick something like Outlook timezones that really is broken.

Something I didn't know before: some of my Office content is now, by the wonders of licencing, on the official Microsoft support site. There's a piece on Word 97 and 2000 and some PowerPoint tips. Hope it helps people ;-)

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marypcb
Mary Branscombe
Simon & Mary

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