In celebration of this week's release of Service Pack 1 for Office 2007, half-jokingly referred to by some jaded IT people as the first viable release, I'll start with a story...
Over a year ago, at the very first presentation to customers of Office 2007, at "Sneak Peek" events we put together, the very first question I fielded from a customer after demonstrating the new user interface was: "Is there a 'Classic View?'" I can recall being taken aback: "Why would anyone want to go backwards?" "Can't these people see how much better the new interface is?" "Was this a bad demo?" "Am I in the wrong career?" And so on.
As it turns out, the cost of learning the new user interface has been a common theme in the succeeding months, especially for power users of Office. They know where everything is (even if it's not intuitive or even rational) in their existing version, they are highly efficient in using Office 2003, and they don't want to change. Now that a new calendar year is bringing with it a new budget cycle and a new Service Pack, Office 2007 migration looks to be a more immediate promise/threat than ever for many people who let others be in the "first wave" of Office migration.
Well, these migrating users are in luck. In addition to the excellent training offered by your friendly neighborhood Microsoft CPLS, there are several tools to help make the transition from Office 2003 to 2007, including:
1. Mapping workbooks. Have you ever wanted to know what the equivalent ribbon function is in Office 2007 to something buried in Tools --> Options in your favorite Office 2003 application? These workbooks exist for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and Outlook.
2. Interactive guides. Similar to the mapping workbooks, but even richer, these interactive guides literally show you, via split screen, how Office 2003 functions are performed in Office 2007.
3. Add-In Tools. If you're stubborn and just can't let go of those old menu structures, there is a lovely set of add-ins you can install over Office 2007 that overlay Office 2003 menus into the applications, like the following:
[disclaimer: I haven't tried these, use at your own risk. Thanks to my colleague Sergey for showing me these!]
So, clearly, the "classic mode" question has been asked more than once. Fortunately, it's been answered more than once as well.