The real Office 2007 installation guide, part 4

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Wrapping up our comprehensive look at installing Office 2007.

In our pre-Christmas issue of Mere Mortals we’ll continue our series on installing Office 2007, where we go far beyond the simple and simplistic instructions you’ll get from Microsoft.

The parts of this series are online at:


and these online documents include screen shots that we can’t put in the plain text newsletter.

We’ve done this guide ahead of the retail release of Office 2007 so that our readers have advance notice of what is required.


Windows Desktop Search

Windows Desktop Search is used by Outlook 2007 to provide its so-called ‘instant search’ feature. WDS is an add-on for Windows XP but integrated into Windows Vista.

Outlook 2007’s search function is considerably better than earlier versions of Outlook but still slow compared to third-party products like Google Desktop Search.

Strangely, the Office 2007 installation doesn’t install WDS on Windows XP machines. Nor is it available when you check for updates after installing Office 2007.

To get Windows Desktop Search v3 go over here and look for the ‘Desktop Search for Individuals’ link, currently on the bottom right.

At this point you might want to install some add-ins, which we talk about in the following section.

After installation, start Outlook 2007 (like most desktop search programs, Outlook has to be running in order to index the contents). Then right-click on the ‘magnifying glass’ icon in the system tray and choose ‘Windows Desktop Search options’.

120 Windows Desktop Search system tray menu - The real Office 2007 installation guide, part 4

 

On that dialog box you can see and set which folders and mail accounts are indexed. There should be entries for your ‘My Documents’ folder and ‘Microsoft Office Outlook’ followed by the name of your Outlook profile. You can add additional folders or change the settings with the ‘Modify button.

120 Windows Desktop Search modify locations  - The real Office 2007 installation guide, part 4

 

On that dialog you can see all the Outlook and Outlook Express profiles that can be indexed. Make sure that you’re indexing the ones you want.

WDS should, in theory, index your existing files and emails in the background when you’re not working. In practice we’ve found this to be very slow with WDS constantly stopping for no apparent reason. We’ve waited days for WDS to finish an initial indexing of a modest amount of data. It seems better to force the initial indexing of the contents then let the background process to work for updates.

To force indexing, return to the magnifying glass icon, right-click again and choose ‘Indexing status’ then click on Index Now.

120 Windows Desktop Search indexing status - The real Office 2007 installation guide, part 4

 

Choose this before going to lunch or even leave it running overnight. Indexing time depends on the amount of data you have, and overnight should be more than enough.


WDS add-ins

After installing WDS v3 you also need to install some add-ins to extend the range of files indexed. The Gallery web site is here and has a poor collection of downloads despite the impressive list of categories.

In particular you’ll want to install an ‘iFilter’ to support Adobe’s PDF format. You’ll need this add-on so the contents of most PDF files can be indexed and found quickly.

On the Microsoft site they have a ‘Foxit’ PDF iFilter but there is also a free PDF iFilter add-in from Adobe itself.

We suspect the failure to post the Adobe add-in on the Microsoft site has more to do with the legal battles between the two companies than any technical shortcomings in the Adobe product.

If our Desktop Search Handbook http://shop.office-watch.com/dsh we recommended the Adobe iFilter because it’s used by most desktop search programs. The Adobe iFilter is separate from the free Acrobat reader (which you should also have) – version 8 for Windows has just been released.

Another add-in of interest to Office users is the MSG iFilter add-in which will index .msg files that can be saved out of Outlook.

Activesync

ActiveSync is the software that connects your Pocket PC/Windows Mobile device to Outlook data, Office documents and the Internet.

The version that came with your PDA is almost certainly out of date and may be too old to deal with the subtleties of Office 2007.

So this is a good time to update Activesync from the free download available here which is the currently version 4.2 – there is a beta version of Activesync 4.5 also available.

Activesync has been included with Windows Vista and is now called Windows Mobile Device Center.

Totally removing Office 2007 beta

If you’ve tried any of the Office 2007 beta versions, they must be uninstalled before loading the released Office 2007. You’ll get a warning during the Office 2007 install if it detects any beta version, however there’s no detail in the message so you’re left on your own to find what stopped the installation.

Office 2007 betas can be surprisingly stubborn to get rid of and we’ve had several complaints about this. Some desperate people have re-installed Windows, but that should not be necessary.

Aside from uninstalling the Office 2007 beta you also have to separately uninstall other beta components like:



  • Save As XPS or PDF filters
  • Office language packs

We’re obliged to Helen Bradley for reminding us that some multi-language options can get in the way of an Office 2007 installation. She recommends using the Windows Install Clean-up utility from Microsoft.

In Helen’s case it reported some Office 2007 language packs which, when selected, were removed and the Office 2007 install went just fine.

Install Vista at the same time?

Microsoft is pushing the line that Windows Vista and Office 2007 are ‘better together’ and while there’s some justification to that claim, it’s probably not a good idea to install both at the same time.

For starters, we don’t recommend installing Windows Vista on any existing computer until well after its retail release in January. Just like with previous major Windows releases, it will take some time for hardware and software makers to fully come to terms with Vista. Better to wait and let other people be the guinea pigs.

Many existing computers may be ‘compatible’ with Vista but won’t take full advantage of Vista’s features (especially when it comes to graphics). We feel it’s better to wait until buying a new computer to get Vista – and when you do get a new machine make sure the hardware will be sufficient to get features like the ‘Aero’ interface.

There’s nothing wrong with installing Office 2007 on Windows XP and it’s usually better to update one major piece of software at a time.

You can uninstall Office 2007 from your old computer then install it on your new Vista computer when you’re ready, at no cost to you.

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