Over the last couple days, we’ve had a discussion in my department over Microsoft Office versions. We’re trying to build an image to run on old computers. We want the performance to be as good as possible, even though it’s going to be running on 6-7 year old computers with limited processing power and memory.
Dan used the excellent nLite Windows Installation Customizer to weed out a lot of the unneeded Windows features. We don’t really need support for 50 different languages. We don’t have to have the Novell networking protocols installed. With these computers, it’s unlikely that anyone’s going to be doing any video editing, so those tools aren’t needed. He did a great job of creating a Windows installation with just the stuff we need.
When it comes to Office, though, the debate is over whether we should use Office 2000 or Office 97. We know that there’s nothing in Office 2007 that we need that isn’t in Office 2003. We also know that 2003 doesn’t offer significant improvements over Office XP (which is the version we run on most computers). With the exception of making mail merge more difficult to use, I don’t really recall any major advantages to XP over 2000. And, though it’s been the better part of a decade since we upgraded, I don’t recall Office 2000 being that much of an improvement over Office 97.
All of this discussion of Office versions prompted me to think about how much I actually use a word processor. Most of my writing is done in other places. In the last year, I’ve written twice as many blog posts as word processing documents, and 23 times as many email messages as blog posts.
Yet, when I look at the complexity of the tools, it’s backwards. Take the toolbars, for example. In the version of Word I’m running, if I have all of the toolbars enabled, there are 224 toolbar buttons to click on. That’s without customizing any of the toolbars or adding anything that’s not there by default. In WordPress 2.5, there are 35 with the “kitchen sink” option enabled. In my email program (Thunderbird), there are 15. How many do I actually use? Maybe half a dozen.
Maybe I haven’t used Office 97 in so long that I forgot how bad it is. But I think I’m going to dig out an old installer and try it.