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Microsoft Office 2007: Not Your Average Upgrade

Computer systems on campus have been stuck in a time warp that would make Spock raise an eyebrow. Most machines are still running Microsoft Office 2003 and some go back to Office XP, but that is about to change with a warp speed ahead to Microsoft Office 2007

To guarantee that West Georgia computers have the most up-to-date and innovative programs, the Technology Coordinators Council recently appointed a team of techies and computer savvy staff to create an implementation plan that will lead UWG where no faculty and staff on campus have gone before and convert the entire UWG community to the MS Office 2007 system. There are more than 2,500 personal computers on the Carrollton and Newnan campuses that will undergo the transformation.

vedat gunay

Vedat Gunay, co-chair

Dale Driver, director of A&S Tech Services, and Vedat Gunay, associate director of Systems Support and Network in ITS, are co-chairing the Microsoft Office 2007 Implementation Project Team that will oversee implementation of the changeover.  
           
Other members of the team are Mardel Shumake, security specialist, ITS; Price Hall, computer services specialist III, ITS; Matthew Clay, Education Technology Services Director, COE; Randall Rowland, assistant director, Budget Services, Diane Williamson, assistant dean and IT director, RCOB; Janet Gubbins, assistant director, Distance Education; and Julie Lineback, web content manager, University Communications and Marketing.

Implementation of the new software will be handled by the IT staff already responsible for technical services in each division, college, department or office. Admittedly there may be issues in converting older Office documents into the newest Office format and the team is addressing those potential problems.

The computer labs and academic departments are scheduled to make the change first with an estimated completion date of December 2008. The remainder of the computers on campus will be converted by the summer of 2009. The change over will take more than popping a CD into your computer, said Driver.

“In previous upgrades of the Microsoft Office Suite, there were additional features added, but the basic layout, functionality and system requirements stayed the same,” explained Driver. “With Office 2007, Microsoft has substantially changed the user interface and subsequently increased the system requirements to support all of the new features. The new interface is intended to make specific Office commands more accessible and less cumbersome to find.”

Office 2007 does not require Windows Vista and may be installed on computers running Windows XP. The MS Office 2007 file formats will be compressed and dramatically reduced in size and the filename extensions will change, too. What were previously .doc, .xls and .ppt for Word, Excel and PowerPoint, will be .docx, .xlsx and .pptx in the 2007 version.

Students have had access to Office 2007 since the beginning of the academic year, said Gunay.

“If a faculty or staff member is using MS Office 2000, Office XP or Office 2003 and receives an Office 2007 file from a student, a Compatibility Pack can be downloaded from the Microsoft website,” said Gunay. “By installing the Compatibility Pack, the document can be opened, edited and saved using the file formats new to Word, Excel and PowerPoint 2007.”

A detailed list on the Microsoft website explains additional technical changes to the program.

To keep everyone updated on the progress of the Office 2007 conversion, a new UWG/MS Office 2007 Upgrade Information Site is available with FAQs, implementation schedules, technical information and a place for comments.

The growing pains will be worth it, said Driver. Programs will not only be easier to use but more efficient, said Driver.

“We want to ensure that the upgrade process is a smooth transition for faculty, staff and students,” Driver said. “The primary goals of the IT community is to help people on campus become more productive using the new Office 2007 Suite and to ensure that they will be able to make the transition from Office 2003 to 2007 seamlessly.”

The Microsoft Campus Agreement also gives faculty and staff the option to load one copy of the product for institution-related work on a laptop or home computer.

For those who would like to delay a complete overhaul, faculty and staff can turn to the Compatibility Pack for a temporary solution.

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