Microsoft Office 2003

Written by Stephanie Dula
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Since so many people utilize some form of Microsoft Office software for their personal and business PCs, it may come as a surprise that few of these people really know how to utilize its full range of features. And because Microsoft is continually updating its famed office suite in the form of service packs, downloads, and new versions, consumers sometimes have a hard time maintaining their knowledge of the latest offerings. The 2003 version is no exception, and its feature makeover is widely hailed as the latest way to increase productivity and collaboration in business settings.

Microsoft Office 2003 software products are available in six different editions and a host of stand-alone applications, some of them newly created, like the OneNote program. Each edition is configured in a way that will appeal to a certain segment of consumers, and some require special licenses for purchase. Finding the right edition or application is simple with a little online research and comparison.

Office 2003 Collections

The core applications, Word, Outlook, and Excel are bundled together in the bare-bones Microsoft Basic Edition 2003, which is only available as part of the pre-installed software on a new computer. The most high-end of the editions is the Professional Enterprise Edition 2003, which is available only to consumers with volume licenses, including corporations and educational institutions. This edition includes the three core programs plus Access, PowerPoint, Publisher, and the notable InfoPath, which enables team members to collaborate with ease and efficiency.

In fact, collaboration and more opportunities for shared workspace through powerful XML capability (available in the two top-end editions) are part of the feature improvements that make 2003 a worthwhile package. Other high notes include Outlook's upgrades, as well as enhanced security and tools for controlling access to sensitive information. Since information management and e-mail protection are such high priorities for today's software consumers, these features are welcome additions to Microsoft's omnipresent office suite.

Stand-alone business applications like Project, Visio, and FrontPage have also been revamped and offer versatility for companies with diverse analysis and marketing needs. Companies are now able to create websites, manage projects, and create conceptual diagrams through the use of streamlined programs capable of data integration with other programs.

Familiar Microsoft Office

Most computer users maintain at least a basic skill level when it comes to operating the core applications of Microsoft, especially in terms of e-mail and word processing. The company continues to develop new versions of its office suite, as well as incentives for businesses and personal users to upgrade. Each upgrade involves new features and tools, and there are plenty of ways to learn how to use them effectively.

Whether it's an online tutorial or certification course, research shows that employers prefer applicants and staff members who receive some type of formal training for Microsoft Office. These training courses are widely available online, in a variety of tracks for all skill levels. And of course, a book or CD-ROM can provide a handy permanent reference for performing specific tasks and troubleshooting.

There are also a host of websites that offer free information and how-to guides for Microsoft Office products. These websites are also good sources for downloads and templates that can help make everyday tasks easier and faster. Individuals and businesses have countless options when it comes to undertaking new projects and integrating new skills into their Microsoft Office workflow.

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