The (Few) Ways Vista Makes Office Work Better

Microsoft's dual launching of Office 2007 and Windows Vista to the general public was the second time the software giant released the OS and office productivity products simultaneously, the first time being with Windows 95. Are there any advantages to running Office on Vista as opposed to XP? According to Chris Capossela, Microsoft's corporate VP in charge of the Office line, there are features consumers should be aware of: "Just about everything in Office 2007 works on XP. But there are a few things that are special to Vista." Here's a list of how any version of Office, not just the latest one, can benefit from Vista's new features:

  • Integrated search: Office 2007 is able to leverage Vista's underlying Instant Search functionality, while XP necessitates downloading Windows Desktop Search 3.0. For example, a user can search for specific words and Vista or WDS 3.0 will return documents that contain them.
  • Security: BitLocker Drive Encryption (only for Ultimate & Enterprise editions) addresses the threats of lost or stolen laptops and PCs, preventing the victims' documents from being viewed. Third party software is probably available for Windows XP that can do the same.
  • RSS feeds: Syndicated feeds can track documents, sales leads, to-do lists, calendars and so on. Vista has a common data store as well as a download engine for RSS feeds, and Office can access these feeds. For example, users can pull calendar data from a conference Web site directly into their Outlook calendars.
  • Auxiliary displays: A new feature in Vista allows laptop-makers to build computers with small screens on the outside of the computer. For example, Toshiba has a new tablet PC out for businesses with a small screen that notifies users of new Outlook messages even if the computer isn't open.
  • Gadgets: Developers are already creating gadgets for the Vista Sidebar that leverages Office applications. Once again with Outlook, a gadget currently available can notify the user of the number of upcoming appointments.
News source: InformationWeek

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Why does everyone complain how slow Vista is compared to XP? I mean, what did you guys expect? It was re-designed on new hardware made to last another few good years. It has lots of extra stuff in it.

Do you people also complain that more recent games also always need better hardware to play them on? Are you gonna complain that Crysis runs crappy on your 256MB card and PIII? Or that AoEIII has much more requirements than the original AoE? Why do you guys think do people upgrade at all? The same thing happened when XP came out. What makes you think this is any different? Do you think Microsoft's next OS will run as fluidly as Vista does now on your brand new PC?

Well if you look at your OS and your work as a game, then you're right.

New games offer better graphics... graphics are relevant to a game because a game is a form of graphical entertainment meant to simulate reality or unreality to your senses. An OS should only require more resources if it uses them to offer you additional options, capabilities, etc.

What we're complaining about is that Vista uses vastly more resources, you say it's to support new hardware, but the reality is that you only need new device drivers to support new hardware, not hundreds upon hundreds of megs of unnecessary code created purely to add another bullet-point to your 'Features' list.

XP DOES have extra unnecessary crap over Windows 2000, the ratio however, is not so bad. There really isn't alot of fluff added to XP that is not productivity, compatibility, or security related, maybe the themes -- which in XP at least, use a trivial amount of overhead.

Since MS dropped their whole WinFS, which was pretty much the only thing I saw as truly breakthrough technology, from Vista, what I've been trying to get across to people is that all the new resource requirements for Vista are related to technologies that DO NOT HELP YOU, THE CONSUMER.

Digital rights management, software licensing services, those are for MS's business partners in the entertainment industry, they are to me, a necessary evil, inevitable, Adam Smith could tell you that Aero is to sell Vista with a pretty interface, on newer hardware the performance impact is tiny, true, but none of this technology is actually helping you to do anything better or faster.

I have to admit, when I read the article's title I thought I was finally going to get a reasonable answer. After I read it, I'm left scratching my head trying to figure out which bullet was the compelling reason to run Office 2007 on Vista.

lodgepole said,
I have to admit, when I read the article's title I thought I was finally going to get a reasonable answer. After I read it, I'm left scratching my head trying to figure out which bullet was the compelling reason to run Office 2007 on Vista.

That list yes, but seriously you can make a compelling list. Gadgets are nice but they aren't someting a business craves.

Read this entire list, its not just FUD, there is a lot of great stuff in here for Office/Business work improvements:

1) Built-in version control of files. Screw up and overwrite your spreadsheet? Just right-click the file and select "restore previous versions". It REALLY is that easy. No locating the backup IT guy and asking him to pull out a file off a tape.
2) Very good two-way firewall and built-in automatically updated spyware checker.
3) Remote desktop is more network efficient (even does aero glass rather than raster bitmaps). Dont ask me why its faster, but it is.
4) Bitlocker for laptops to keep corprate info secure.
5) Much better synchronizing with offline files when you take your laptop away from the network. XP did a flavor of this but its much improved. Just go to a shared folder and right-click it and select "make available offline". It will shadow-copy everything for you and push back changes when you reattach to the network.
6) Much improved network dialogs.
7) Vast and beautiful desktop searches. This thing is just so much nicer than that desktop search plugin for xp.
8) The breadcrumb bar on the explorer.... much faster navigation to various points of a file directory tree. At work I spend a lot of time with the tree view... wish I had vista.
9) Much improved (both in quantity and quality) group policies. I loath IT folks and their limitations on what I can do at work but I have to say they have more tools now.
10) Windows meeting spaces! No more "conf" freaking net meeting. Its much easier to set up.

dugbug said,
Read this entire list, its not just FUD, there is a lot of great stuff in here for Office/Business work improvements:

Sorry, still not impressed. Most of this stuff you mention isn't important to me at all or the improvements are insignificant. #2 is just laughable.

6) Much improved network dialogs.
7) Vast and beautiful desktop searches.
8 ) The breadcrumb bar
Worth the $200-$400 + $1000 in new hardware upgrade? No.


9) Much improved (both in quantity and quality) group policies.
10) Windows meeting spaces!

Those about the only things that may be of real use.

toadeater said,

Sorry, still not impressed. Most of this stuff you mention isn't important to me at all or the improvements are insignificant. #2 is just laughable.

Worth the $200-$400 + $1000 in new hardware upgrade? No.

Those about the only things that may be of real use.

The article was about improvements in how you work, not whether you would buy vista based on these. Why would you need to spend $1000 in hardware upgrades? You should be fine with what you have unless you want aero.

One of my biggest points is just that MS keeps telling us Vista is totally different from XP -- yet EVERYTHING they have added is all available as add-ons for XP. Windows Search, Desktop Widgets, LCD panel support, windows meeting spaces, all this stuff is going to be added to XP via Windows Messenger, Internet Explorer, etc, updates or even third party add-ons. There is, at this time, no real reason to upgrade to Vista. In my opinion, you should upgrade to it when you buy a new PC that ships with it, then at least you will be getting the right hardware to run it. What irritates me about MS is that they are going to force it on all of us whether our hardware or pocketbooks are ready for it or not. Yes, they have to do this, they are a publicly held corporation, but no, we don't all have to sit here lapping it up and trying to run their bloated buggy new OS on our hardware which has been serving us perfectly well with their last OS, Windows XP.

1) Built-in version control of files. Screw up and overwrite your spreadsheet? Just right-click the file and select "restore previous versions". It REALLY is that easy. No locating the backup IT guy and asking him to pull out a file off a tape.

"Previous versions" support, although slightly different than System Restore, uses the same service. Also, previous versions was available on Server 2003 w/ the client for XP. My point? This technology could easily have been added through a minor upgrade of the already existing System Restore services. Oh yeah, and I'm 100% sure that everyone is now just going to call the IT guy and ask him to restore the previous version for them.

2) Very good two-way firewall and built-in automatically updated spyware checker.

Heh, a two-way firewall? There's still no outbound control, the firewall is identical to the XP firewall. The built-in spyware checker is available as a free download for XP users... again, this is not anything new, nor something that you need Vista to do.

3) Remote desktop is more network efficient (even does aero glass rather than raster bitmaps). Dont ask me why its faster, but it is.

I won't ask you why, because you don't know, but that hasn't stopped you from telling me I'm wrong.... OK...I have used RDP on Vista and XP, if it's any faster, I'm not seeing it. "Glass" over RDP? This is a important feature? OK.

4) Bitlocker for laptops to keep corprate info secure.

Again, if you're storing critical data on laptops that leave your building, you're already screwing yourself. There are uses of this feature, but I'm going to bet less than 1% of all Vista installations ever use it, which begs the question, why not just buy a $60 add-on (DriveCrypt -- awesome product BTW) for your XP if you actually need this functionality? Nevermind the performance penalties involved. I guess since it dosen't bother you that all traffic between your system bus and video card, and video card and monitor, is going to have to be encrypted and decrypted, and you feel this is a good use of your hardware, maybe you should BitLock your entire HD!

5) Much better synchronizing with offline files when you take your laptop away from the network. XP did a flavor of this but its much improved. Just go to a shared folder and right-click it and select "make available offline". It will shadow-copy everything for you and push back changes when you reattach to the network.

So it's better because the menu is easier for you to navigate? OK, I guess that could count. Otherwise, from your description, I'm going to have to say the functionality is identical.

6) Much improved network dialogs.

OMG, have you seen all the changes they've done to dialogs in Vista? I personally think it's a nightmare for technical support and that NONE of the changes are even remotely necessary. They've added another level of dialogs to everything just about, it's insane. I guess if you consider adding layers upon layers of dialogs to every configuration action, then yes, this is an improvement.

7) Vast and beautiful desktop searches. This thing is just so much nicer than that desktop search plugin for xp.

IT IS THE DESKTOP SEARCH PLUGIN FOR XP! And I personally think the Google desktop search is better.

8) The breadcrumb bar on the explorer.... much faster navigation to various points of a file directory tree. At work I spend a lot of time with the tree view... wish I had vista.

That is kinda cool :)

9) Much improved (both in quantity and quality) group policies. I loath IT folks and their limitations on what I can do at work but I have to say they have more tools now.

Again, I admit this is useful, but you're still talking about something that less than 1% of all Vista installations will use. I don't even see this mentioned in any of the MS Vista propaganda.

10) Windows meeting spaces! No more "conf" freaking net meeting. Its much easier to set up.

Am I wrong in assuming this is just a program and you can install it on XP or Vista? I thought it was just some extensions to MS Messenger...? How is it different from all the other conferencing software that already exists?

vlsi0n said,
-1 Yeah... or not. It's sounding like he hasn't actually been using vista.. :rolleyes:

That's kinda his point: Vista Isn't Worth It.
Ever feature of Vista worth having (except DX10) is essentially available for XP via third-party sources.

vlsi0n said,
-1 Yeah... or not. It's sounding like he hasn't actually been using vista.. :rolleyes:

Of course not, I couldn't get my Vista-enabled PC until yesterday!

One nice thing about Office 2007 and Vista is that while retaining the previous functionality of Windows XP and Office 2003, they have enhanced the performance penalty of the underlying code. If you previously worked in an environment with a PC that was more than fast enough, resulting in a defecit of spare "waiting for the computer to do stuff" time, your work experience will now be optimized with this new, painfully slow software, which will allow you lots of "breaks" to relax and watch the lovely new Aero-themed cursors spin (in 3D).

"Here's a list of how any version of Office, not just the latest one, can benefit from Vista's new features:
Integrated search: Office 2007 is able to leverage Vista's underlying Instant Search functionality, while XP necessitates downloading Windows Desktop Search 3.0. For example, a user can search for specific words and Vista or WDS 3.0 will return documents that contain them. "

Wow that is some amazing technology, thanks to the entirely new OS, we can now have Windows Search, how ever did they do this? Some might think they just preinstalled Windows Search on Vista systems but they would be right.

"Security: BitLocker Drive Encryption (only for Ultimate & Enterprise editions) addresses the threats of lost or stolen laptops and PCs, preventing the victims' documents from being viewed. Third party software is probably available for Windows XP that can do the same. "

Finally, instead of using a free encryption program or buying a $60 drive encryption system like DriveCrypt, you can now spend the low low price of $400 per machine to get Vista Ultimate -- even if only a couple of your machines store critical information! Don't store that information on your server, that would be stupid, and how would you ever access it remotely unless you had some kind of weird "remote desktop" technology or something?

"RSS Feeds: Syndicated feeds can track documents, sales leads, to-do lists, calendars and so on. Vista has a common data store as well as a download engine for RSS feeds, and Office can access these feeds. For example, users can pull calendar data from a conference Web site directly into their Outlook calendars."

At last! Instead of being forced to download a free, secure web browser, you can now experience in real-time a text-file being downloaded line by line to your PC in the latest Internet Explorer version! Free of such irritations as 'standards compliance' that hinders your freedom to innovate.

"Auxiliary displays: A new feature in Vista allows laptop-makers to build computers with small screens on the outside of the computer. For example, Toshiba has a new tablet PC out for businesses with a small screen that notifies users of new Outlook messages even if the computer isn't open."

WOW! Previous versions of Windows only had multiple-monitor support, but now Vista has multiple-monitor support for monitors OUTSIDE of your PC! Amazing!

"Gadgets: Developers are already creating gadgets for the Vista Sidebar that leverages Office applications. Once again with Outlook, a gadget currently available can notify the user of the number of upcoming appointments."

Once again Microsoft frees the user from being FORCED to use some shoddy free-software, by buying that software and offering it as part of your operating system for a low low price! Thank you Microsoft! Where do you want to go today?


hapbt, you have one wonder of crappy post you know?

hapbt said,
WOW! Previous versions of Windows only had multiple-monitor support, but now Vista has multiple-monitor support for monitors OUTSIDE of your PC! Amazing!
Do you KNOW what you are talking about? Seriously, have the common sense to read, can you in XP being notified of incoming mails when the PC is off?

Sideshow is that:

Nienor said,
hapbt, you have one wonder of crappy post you know?

Do you KNOW what you are talking about? Seriously, have the common sense to read, can you in XP being notified of incoming mails when the PC is off?

Sideshow is that:

PC enthusiasts have been building small character (and in some cases, graphic) LCDs on their cases for years.

Some have buttons integrated.

So you're 90 percent there.

Run off of +5SB instead of +5 (so it runs even with the box off), standardize the drivers and integrate them with useful apps (as opposed to things like Motherboard Monitor and games) and make it do something useful in suspend mode (likely a driver thing)

Or hell, bolt a Blackberry to the side of the case.

Nienor said,
hapbt, you have one wonder of crappy post you know?
Do you KNOW what you are talking about? Seriously, have the common sense to read, can you in XP being notified of incoming mails when the PC is off?

Can you in Vista be notified of incomming mails when the PC is off? To make this thing tick you'd at least need the networking card (wireless?), CPU, memory, motherboard and the external screen (and perhaps even the HD) to be active. Calling that 'off' is stretching the term a bit.

I'd rather have this technology on my mobile, which I check more often than the cover of my laptop.

Hak Foo said,

PC enthusiasts have been building small character (and in some cases, graphic) LCDs on their cases for years.

Some have buttons integrated.

So you're 90 percent there.

Run off of +5SB instead of +5 (so it runs even with the box off), standardize the drivers and integrate them with useful apps (as opposed to things like Motherboard Monitor and games) and make it do something useful in suspend mode (likely a driver thing)

Or hell, bolt a Blackberry to the side of the case.

OK I admit I missed that, I would never have expected people to do any of the following:
1. Add a LCD screen to the side of their PC to see if their e-mail had arrived while their PC was off.
2. Need to know if they received e-mail while their PC was off.
3. Consider their productivity to be increased because their new OS was able to notify them of incoming email while their PC was off.

Wait a minute -- if the PC is off, how is it checking your e-mail? So, your PC is off except for the hard drive, memory, CPU, network card, and LCD display? So pretty much... if you turn your monitor off and leave your PC on... you can see if you have mail...on a tiny LCD display... on the side of your computer... instead of on your monitor... and that is more efficient?
OK well, I see I am the stupid one here, that really is some amazing technology!!!

It's good that Vista finally adds that functionality because you know, nobody could ever write a device driver for XP to do the same thing.