Microsoft Office 11 for Mac — Looks Good

Office Mac 2011 is definitely an upgrade from the 2008 version.  Among other things, the user interface has improved dramatically.  The various tools and tabs on the ribbon are useful and intuitive.  In fact, I would claim that the Mac version is better than the Windows version.  I still have to figure out the ribbon UI in Windows and gave up long ago.  One of my favorite additions to the Office Suite is the “Notebook” template, which is very much like the Notebook offering made by CircusPonies.com, without any significant cost differential.  Most of the templates are more on the consumer side and I am looking forward to seeing if my Windows-based pleadings templates will be compatible with the Mac version.  Another key issue will be looking at the ease of being able to insert tables for exhibit lists, witness lists, or for demonstrative courtroom exhibits.  The Powerpoint program seems equally intuitive and the interface is clean and understandable.  Again, the templates are are little simplistic, but easily tailored to meet the needs of a trial lawyer preparing a presentation with use of video clips from a deposition, pdf exhibits, images, and interactive elements. The spreadsheet element of Office is what one would expect and offers a number of good templates, including invoicing, timesheets, and other useful tools for the legal profession.  Finally, I really like the smooth interface between SkyDrive and the Suite.  I have been using SkyDrive or its predecessors for some time and have enjoyed the remote accessibility to my files, especially during trials and travelling.  SkyDrive also makes it easy to share files with clients, which is becoming more important as cloud-based technology develops.  All in all, the suite is just one more reason to justify the transition to Mac as an office tool.  While many of us in the legal world are stuck on Wordperfect, this offering may just be the reason to finally break the chains so that lawyers can more easily interact with clients (most of whom use Word).  I give this new version of Office a 9.5 out of 10.  If there were templates for pleading, I’d give it a 10.  For additional reviews see, TechRadar.com and ZDNet.com.  For an article on whether it’s worth your time, money and effort to upgrade your present office suite, you can see this MacWorld article which does a good job of speaking to this issue.


Windows 7 Phones Appear on Smartphone Scene

http://www.cnet.com/windows-phone-7/?tag=txt;luke_topic

Microsoft has just unveiled the details on its Windows-based phones.  This should add another dimension to the smart phone industry and will likely stiffen competition.  One would expect good integration between the phone and one’s PC with the addition of this tool.  Another addition to the Microsoft lineup is Office 2011 for Mac, expected on October 26, 2010. (See Microsoft Press Kit).

With all of the excitement, the one thing that Microsoft has not been clear on is whether there will be anywhere near a comparable amount of apps for their new smartphones.  For any smartphone to be functional beyond phone calls, a variety of useful apps is necessary.  In this MSNBC article, this issue is discussed at some length.  My guess is that Apple will continue to lead the way in terms of functionality for a couple more years and then the market will be a little more wide open and innovation by competition will drive functionality.  Unfortunately, at this time, it looks like most of the MS apps (first look) are focused on gaming, communication, and entertainment.  This is fine if the court is in recess, but doesn’t do much good for file management, exhibit review, and note taking.