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Introduction

Introduction

In this introduction

Who Should Buy This Book

How This Book Is Organized

What Is Que's Special Edition WOPR 2003 Pack?

Conventions Used in This Book

Microsoft Office has been around, in one version or another, for more than a decade. We—that is, Woody and Ed—have been writing about Office since the very beginning. In books, on the Web, and in magazine articles and e-mail newsletters, we've guided lost souls through the Office labyrinth, held Microsoft's feet to the fire over bugs and security breaches, and passed out praise for the many innovations that the Office development team has delivered through the years.

In its early years, Office was little more than a bundle of programs built by teams that sometimes worked at cross purposes with one another, and the whole package was held together with the digital equivalent of baling wire and chewing gum. In the past few years, however, Microsoft has largely delivered on its promise to truly integrate the different programs that make up Office. In Office 2003, toolbars, task panes, and other interface elements don't just look alike, they use the exact same code—and when you learn how to customize one application you can generally transfer the same skills to other Office programs.

Office 2003 still has odd inconsistencies, as well as bugs, features that don't work as advertised, and basic interface elements guaranteed to drive expert users crazy. But as we researched the third edition of this book, we were pleasantly surprised to see how many longtime Office annoyances have finally been fixed. Office 2003 isn't perfect—not by a long shot—but it is indisputably the most stable, usable, and productive version we've ever worked with.

As befits the name, Office 2003 has a decidedly corporate bias. In fact, some of the collaborative features that distinguish Office 2003 from earlier versions are only available if you enlist an army of IT professionals to run a room full of servers. To help show you how to make Office programs work with SharePoint and other network-based services, we had to build our own corporate network. (In the process, we developed a deep empathy for the challenges that network administrators have to deal with every day.) But we didn't lose sight of the fact that most of our readers still think of Office as personal productivity software.

Some of what you see in Special Edition Using Microsoft Office 2003 will be familiar to you if you've worked with an earlier edition of this book. We didn't take the easy way out and simply reprint some of those old chapters on the theory that the programs didn't change much. Instead, we went through every chapter, sentence by sentence, testing, verifying, updating, and adding a wealth of new information to ensure that this book is accurate and absolutely up to date.

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