Wednesday, September 3, 2008

And where did I see that in Office Help

Microsoft Office Help has evolved over the years. Those of you who started with Office 4.3 will have seen Win32 Help reach a pinnacle. You could bookmark it, it was not an annoying taskpane or another window that barged around the screen all over the place, it did not have enourmous icons and gadgets and it was fast - because it was designed for Intel 486 machines, pre Pentium I.

Office Help went really bad for a while, and in Office 2007, it's not so bad. 
  • You can set it to go to the Internet (slow but richer and more updated content) or go faster on local PC installed resources.
  • There is no cutesy Office Paperclip. Bob has retired. And the intelligent prediction or understanding of what you actually want help on has of course improved given the intervening years.
  • The font size is adjustable sharp and readable.
  • The library of books that Help searches is still large (unlike the old days - if you asked an Excel specific question, it gave you an Excel specific answer) but the richness now include even expert topics like Developer Help, Training Topics and so on.
But bookmarking or putting your finger on a Help Topic isn't something that the Help team perceive as very important in your life. You can do a few things other than bookmarking:
  • Print it to paper. S'right greenie, stop screaming at me. I'll take the three A4 ring binders worth of 1990s doco to the recycle bin, Ok?
  • Print it to One Note 2007. Eh? Yes, you have to buy One Note.
  • Print it to pdf. Eh? Yes, you have to buy some sort of pdf printer driver. Jeez...
  • Print it to XPS. Hmm. Yes, even on Windows XP, the Microsoft XPS printer driver can be installed. Maybe. If IE is not broken on your machine.
  • Right click in the help content and find out the web url (if you are using online content) and save it as a web browser bookmark.

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