Microsoft’s Word 2007 has the ability, with a plugin, to save your documents as PDF files. What it can’t do is import PDFs, but Microsoft’s MMEvents blog lists two utilities you can use to take a PDF and bring it into Word as an editable document.
Scansoft’s PDF Converter 4 lets you turn PDFs into fully formatted documents, forms and spreadsheets that look just like the original, retaining formatting and graphics. It even imports into WordPerfect, integrates with Word and Windows, and has a ton of other features for working with PDFs. The software costs $50 for download and requires Windows 2000 or better and works with Word 2000 through 2007.
Take a look at this rap music video for Microsoft Word. I’d warn you about the lyrics, which are really crass at times, even for a rap song (or a normal amount of crass, just with words that are easier to understand).
Microsoft has released a new Microsoft Math add-in for Microsoft Office Word 2007. It adds enhanced computational and graphing capabilities to Word, letting you do this:
Plot a function, equation, or inequality
Solve an equation or inequality
Calculate a numerical result
Simplify an algebraic expression
Get it as a free download from here. Using it as simple as pressing “Alt-Equals sign” to create a RichEdit math object, type the equation or expression and right-click it to get solving and graphing options.
The new versions of the Word Viewer and Powerpoint Viewer were recently released, and they finally support the viewing of Office 2007 file formats. The new viewers support the Open XML files used in Word 2007 (.docx) and Powerpoint 2007 (.pptx). However, you need to install the Compatibility Packafter you install the viewers, otherwise the viewers will only be able to read older file formats.
This comes via Amit, who also advises that if you want to read Excel 2007 files (.xlsx), convert it to Excel 2003 format using a tool like Zamzar, then you can view it in Google Docs or a similar free spreadsheet service that supports importing.
Some blogs have been discussing the recenly announced packaging for Microsoft Office 2008, the upcoming Mac edition of Office, which doesn’t seem as cool as the packaging for Office 2004. Compare the two, with 2004 on the left, 2008 on the right:
Office 2004 photo by jidnet under CC license, 2008 image courtesy Long Zheng
Office 2004 came in this cool plastic tube-like thing, utterly unique and perfect. The new packaging is kinda boring by comparison… or is it?
Sheridan Jones of group marketing explained at Long Zheng’s blog that Microsoft is going for something forward-thinking again, but in a different way. The new packaging is designed with the environment in mind, made from recycled paper instead of the environmentally unfriendly thermoformed plastic of Office 2004. The new boxes reduce the carbon footprint of the product, something that should please a good percentage of Mac users.
Besides that, the photo doesn’t show the shiny metallic silver on the box or the embossed logos. Plus, it actually fits on a bookshelf, unlike Office 2004. So, it’s all good, but get us a cooler photo!
If you’re a Mac user and regular reader of this blog, send me a message via the contact form. If you live in New York, even better. I’m looking for someone interested in helping me review the product (and not pay for it). Let me know.
Also, read at the Mac Mojo blog where they explain the new Publishing Layout View, a new workspace for creating professional layout-rich documents. The Publishing Layout View presents you with a different user interface designed to expose the publishing features of Word, and it looks really useful and really cool.
Microsoft’s HD Photo Format To Be Standardized As JPEG XR
First it was Windows Media Photo, then HD Photo. Now, Microsoft’s high powered image format is set to become an industry standard, literally the next JPEG, as the Joint Photographic Expert’s Group is working to to make it so under the new name, JPEG XR (eXtended Range). JPEG XR will become the next generation image format, available under an open license to everyone, allowing for a a ton more color information to be saved by the camera. It should prove a great alternative to camera RAW by actually being a standard (RAW is different from every camera manufacturer, sometimes every model).
Microsoft Blames The Family For Xbox Fire That Killed Baby
Microsoft issued its first response to a lawsuit that blames it in the death in fire of a baby. The family of the child is suing Microsoft, claiming that the power supply of the original Xbox overheated, sparked the wiring and started the fire at the house in Warsas, Illinois. Despite the fact that Microsoft recalled all Xbox 360 power adapters due to fire concerns, they are fighting, and said in their statement:
The losses “were the result of an open, obvious, and apparent condition which was known to and recognized by the plaintiff and/or others who, nevertheless, knowingly, willingly, intentionally, and voluntarily exposed themselves to said danger and assumed the risk of incident, injuries, losses, and damages,” Microsoft charges.
Considering the number of families misusing power strips, I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft has enough evidence to support its side. Still, considering the obvious fire problems the power supply had, as well as the fact that the family is just seeking damages in excess of $50,000, maybe it’d be easier to just pay them off?
Massachusetts Relents, Accepts Open XML
Massachusetts has backed off from its plans to become an OpenDocument-only user, accepting both ODF and Microsoft Office’s Open XML as acceptable file formats. The state had been moving its IT towards what it called standards, and did not consider Office, despite being the best-selling and most widespread file format, a standard, but Microsoft’s moves to get Open XML standardized have satisfied them, finally. Part of the push to keep using Office came from disability groups, which require Office’s disability features.
It was all well and good for Mass. to try and push standards in order to make government documents more accessible, but they got sidetracked with the ODF vs. Office thing early on as it turned into a political statement. It stopped being about accessibility and started being about hurting the “evil corporation”, Microsoft, and that’s a stupid way to run a business or a government. If someone wants to use ODF, use it if it is superior or if your constituents support it, not to make a statement and use a format no one else is using.
A CompTIA survey of IT professionals has named Microsoft’s Internet Explorer the most influential technology product of the last 25 years. Not only did Microsoft take the top spot, it won or tied all of the top four spots, with Microsoft Word in second, Windows 95 third, and Excel fourth (tied with Apple’s iPod). IE, Word and Excel certainly aren’t as sexy as a tiny music player, but their impact on the industry is undeniable, and this survey reflects that.
Catching up: I had a crazy week, with me and my wife going on a short wedding anniversary vacation, one of my best friends getting married, and my aunt and her family moving forever to another continent. There’s a lot of stuff filling up the queue, so we’re going to go through it double time
Craig Ferguson Pokes Fun At Zune
Craig Ferguson, host of the Late Late Show on CBS, makes fun of Microsoft’s attempts to counter the iPod and iPhone:
I love the way he pronounces Zune.
(via Apple Are)
Microsoft Developing Free Ad-Supported Works Suite
Mary Jo Foley broke the news that Microsoft is preparing the next version of Microsoft Works, Works 9.0, as a free ad-supported product. Works users will get the typical address book, calendar, database, dictionary, PowerPoint Viewer, basic version of Word, and templates, but pay nothing extra. In order for Microsoft to better compete with Google Documents, Works will be free and supported by advertising within the application windows.
Windows Live Search has finally got support for Sitemaps, the growing industry standard for websites to report their full and updated page listing to search engines. Live Search will now use your website’s Sitemap if you point to it in a robots.txt file. They do not support it in any sort of webmaster console, and they do not have a means for websites to ping them with updates. With Microsoft on board, the top four search engines (Google, Yahoo and Ask are the others) now all use Sitemaps.
Silverlight Release Candidate 1.0 Is Out
Microsoft released the first Release Candidate of Silverlight 1.0, moving towards final release. Hopefully, they’ll wrap up 1.0 quickly and be able to put all the resources behind 1.1, which is the version more people are talking about, since it contains many important features, like the mini .NET CLR. Click the link to get all the downloads.
Blue Screen Of Death Tattoo
I can’t imagine there are fans of the Blue Screen of Death, the screen you see when Windows crashes, so this must be some sort of counterculture thing. Witness this man’s tattoo of the famous screen (text only, not blue):
I’m in Atlantic City with my wife, celebrating our one-year wedding anniversary, so here’s a post featuring a bunch of items I should have blogged weeks ago.
OpenDocument Plug-ins For Microsoft Office
Both Sun and Microsoft have projects tasked with interoperating the OpenDocument Format and Microsoft’s OpenXML Office 2007 file format. Microsoft is financing a converter project on SourceForge, which released a 1.0 earlier this year for Word. Amit Agarwal reported that Sun released a plug-in for Word, Excel and PowerPoint, that lets them save in ODF, but it doesn’t work with Office 2007, and won’t convert OpenXML to ODF.
Xbox Live Video Marketplace Enjoying Double-Digit Growth
Microsoft is proudly noting double-digit revenue growth for the Xbox Live Video Marketplace, which sells TV show and movie rental downloads on Xbox 360s. They’ve now got a growing library with over 2,000 hours of content, and the easiest path to the TV of any video download service (almost all others are tethered to a PC), so its only natural that this would be succeeding as it is. Considering the money Microsoft is making selling stuff on Xbox Live, perhaps it should consider making the service itself free, in order to encourage more people to get deeply involved, and thus become purchasers?
The Windows Vista Ultimate team blog had a post explaining why some videos never get thumbnails, giving you a look into the process Vista uses to create thumbnails for videos. If you like in-depth looks at the workings of Windows, you’ll enjoy their full post, but if you want the long and short: Windows Movie Maker runs the video, finds the first frame that is not too bright or too dark, and makes that the thumbnail, and if it doesn’t find such a frame in seven seconds, you get no thumbnail at all.
I’m in Atlantic City with my wife, celebrating our one-year wedding anniversary, so here’s a post featuring a bunch of items I should have blogged weeks ago.
Add-in Lets You Customize The Office 2007 Ribbon
RibbonCustomizer is a very useful add-in for Microsoft Office 2007 which lets you customize the Ribbon interface in Excel, Powerpoint and Word 2007. In the professional edition, which costs $29.99, you can customize individual commands, create new Ribbon tabs and populate them any way you want, create and share customizations, remove and re-order groups in Ribbon tabs, re-order and remove tabs, pretty much anything you want to change.
The free version includes less features, but it does share one feature with the Pro version that might make it all worth it for you: The Classic UI tab. This adds a tab to your Ribbon that has file menus and toolbars, just like the old versions of Office did. You can use this for free to help someone get used to the new interface, by switching back and forth between new and old, until you are ready to use the new one. That feature alone makes this worth installing.
(via Erik Rucker)
“Infomation Cards Accepted Here” Icon Released
Microsoft is pushing adoption of Windows CardSpace for digital identity management, so they’re sharing this icon for websites that accept Information Cards. Sites and applications can use this icon if they accept any Information Card, even if it’s not using CardSpace, which is why the icon doesn’t have any corporate info in it. Microsoft just wants people to start using Information Cards, so it can start becoming the one you get your Information Card from.
Microsoft Releases Student 2008 with Encarta Premium
Microsoft released the latest version of Student, and the 2008 package includes Encarta Premium 2008, Microsoft Math 2.0 (with a Graphing Calculator, Step-by-Step Equation Solver, Equation Library) and Foreign Language Help. Not very different from Student 2007 besides the Encarta update, but there is one new program: Learning Essentials 2.0 for Students, which has templates and tutorials that transform Word, PowerPoint and Excel into more student-oriented applications, with tips for creating better papers and other things for class assignments.
MapCruncher Lets You Import And Combine Existing Maps With Virtual Earth
Microsoft Research has this useful program called MapCruncher, which lets you take an existing map, like a map of bus routes, tourist hotspots, or hiking paths, and import it into Virtual Earth. You import the map, whether in vector (PDF, WMF, EMF) or raster (JPG, PNG, TIFF, GIF, BMP) format, find 5-10 landmarks on both the imported and Virtual Earth maps, and it creates a mashup for use on a web page, and image tiles to match up with the road and aerial images in Virtual Earth.
Ever wonder how Microsoft came up with the name “Silverlight” for what was Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere? Sean Alexander had some background on it I missed. Included is that the Silverlight name was settled on in mid/late 2006, but was held back behind an intentionally awful codename of WPF/E so the new Silverlight name would be a bigger hit.
A new capability for the iPhone has been announced, Apple’s super-hyped phone will be announced this week, maybe today, that it has licensed the Exchange ActiveSync protocol. iPhone users will be able to connect to Exchange servers and use exchange for wireless email messaging and synchronization, although the feature may be added in an update.
While the iPhone is not targeted to business users (and will only be sold as a consumer device, not to AT&T business accounts), the Exchange feature should make things a little easier on corporate users who desperately want the phone, but won’t give up the ability to access their work email.
They’ll also like this: The iPhone will ship with a document preview application for Word and Excel documents. You won’t be able to edit or create them (and I doubt they’ll support Open XML Office 2007 formats), but it’s a little bit extra to pacify business users raised on more capable phones.
DonationCoder has a review of fourteen word processors, everything from the big boys (Word, WordPerfect, OpenOffice) to the little web boys (Google Docs, ThinkFree Office Write, Zoho Writer) and a bunch in between (TextMaker, Atlantis, Papyrus WORD, AbiWord, Ability Write, EIOffice, PolyEdit, 602 Text). It’s heavilly anti-Microsoft Word in places, especially when talking about file formats, though its actual review of the program is better than you’d think, given the anti-Microsoft vitriol in the rest of it.
Richard Brodie, the original author of Microsoft Word and Microsoft’s 77th employee, is also a professional poker player. He was playing the video poker machines (he plays both the computer and human beings) and hit two royal flushes in a few days, winning $480,000, a nice amount that would keep him on top and playing the game for a while, and he even says the casino’s won back 80% of his video poker winnings. Still, a month ago, Harrah’s sent him a letter that he and a number of other high rollers were banned from entering their locations in Nevada, California and Arizona.
As he reasons, the casinos make a profit on everything that goes on, because the odds are stacked in their favor. Now, the casino was screwing him, banning him because he was one of the few guys making a profit and not losing much to their system. The big problem for him was that the World Series of Poker is held at Harrah’s casinos, and he kind of wanted to participate.
As these things usually do, a very public blog posting righted the wrong, and Harrah’s lifted the ban five days ago and is letting him play in the World Series. He even did decently in his first tournament back, leaving early in the second day of the $5,000 Limit Hold’em (Event #18) of the World Series of Poker. Now I have someone to maybe cheer for when I watch these things.
Speaking of all this, looks like me and the wife will be heading to Atlantic City in a few weeks to celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary, which is tomorrow. I can’t believe it’s been a whole year. We’re looking more for seeing some comedians than the gambling, but we’re going during the week, and you wouldn’t believe how lousy the comedy lineups are in AC during the week. If someone can find one “name” comedian performing in mid-week in the first half of July, I’d really appreciate it, and it would help me make my wife happy.
Otherwise, I’ll have her play poker. She’s surprisingly good!
(via Freakonomics > Digg)
Microsoft has made available SharedView, its screen sharing software formerly known as Tahiti, available on its website as a free download. The 3-megabyte program lets you host a live meeting for a maximum of 15 users, sharing your whole screen or a single program with all of them.
The person sharing can give up control to any participant, with each person having their own personalized mouse pointer. Files can be shared during the session, and all participants can download them directly while there. It integrates tightly with Microsoft Word, and could be used to counter the excellent collaboration features at the center of Google Docs. There may be audio and chat support coming in a future release.
Okay, so you’re not a big fan of the Office 2007 Ribbon, or just can’t use it right, but already own the software and don’t have any other options, Addintools has released this useful add-in that brings the menus and toolbars back to Word, Excel and Powerpoint. The add-in creates a new Robbin tab called Menu, which has all of the classic menus and typical toolbars you’d be used to with older versions of Office, but with all the new features added.
The menus/toolbars and Ribbon coexist, so this setup can allow advanced and old-fashioned users to both enjoy Office 2007. I love the Ribbon, but there are always going to be longtime users resistant to the change it represents, and unable to train to use the new software. It costs $30 for all three programs, or $16 for just one, but if I had someone who couldn’t use the Ribbon, that’s a small price to pay to keep the far more expensive Office suite useful
Ed Bott found a strange Knowledge Base article on Microsoft.com explaining why Word 2003′s spell checker doesn’t recognize certain words, including Friendster and Obama. The article says that Office 2007 does recognize them, but why is it necessary for Microsoft to explain why these words aren’t recognized, when plenty others aren’t? A commenterfigured out it is because the corrections Word suggests might be misconstrued:
On the InsideGoogle blog, I did a bit of housecleaning. I’m sick and tired of writing about week-old news, and I think the readers of my blogs deserve up-to-date news and features. As a result, here is every story, leading basically up to today, that has been sitting in close to a hundred browser tabs on my computer.
The New York Times is going to start charging for its Reader application, a Windows Presentation Foundation-powered news reader that brings an incredibly powerful and visually amazing way to read the Times. Dopes. Way to blow a chance to bring the Times to a more tech-savvy generation. They really think people will pay a monthly fee for a newspaper that is available free online?
Todd Bishop has put together an incredible listing of every single major Microsoft blogger he can find, and its so extensive, its scary. I can’t wait for him to finish the OPML, because I am so subscribing. Read his post for links to the Google Co-Op search engines he created for the list.
Microsoft claims it has no plans to buy video game publisher Take 2, but everyone agrees it’d be stupid not to bid. Take 2 makes the Grand Theft Auto series, and if Microsoft bought the company, or at least the GTA franchise, it would have a dramatic effect on Sony’s ability to compete. GTA is one of the biggest system sellers in history, possibly bigger than Microsoft’s own Halo, with more sales than Halo putting a lot of new PS2s in homes.
Rumors are coming out about Apple’s next generation iMac. The iMac is the centerpiece of Apple’s non-portable computer line, but with a built-in screen, it does not appeal to many typical PC buyers (and the Mac Mini is too limiting in the exact opposite respect). Here’s hoping Apple plans a normal PC; I could just buy it!
It has been virtually confirmed that Microsoft will be selling a $480 limited edition black Xbox 360 called the 360 Elite. It will feature a 120 gigabyte hard drive, an HDMI output, all-black accessories, and probably only run a few hundred thousand units. Once it sells out, it may replace the Xbox 360 Premium at $400, in white plastic.