The University of Pennsylvania's Online Computing Magazine

PENN PRINTOUT March 1997 - Volume 13:7

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Microsoft Office 97

By John J. Mulhern III and Diane Fink

Microsoft Office 97, the latest version of Microsoft's suite of software applications, includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. As of mid-March, Office 97 was available on Windows 95 and Windows NT platforms; it should be available for the Power Macintosh by fall.

The requirements

Microsoft Office 97 has significantly greater system requirements than previous versions of Microsoft Office. For Windows 95, Information Systems and Computing (ISC) suggests the following system requirements.
  • 32 megabytes of RAM (24 megabytes minimum)
  • 133 MHz Pentium (100 MHz 486 minimum)
  • 60 to 165 megabytes of free hard drive space

Although Office 97 for the Power Macintosh has not yet been released, ISC anticipates the following system requirements.

  • 32 megabytes of RAM (24 megabytes minimum)
  • 100 MHz PowerPC (60 MHz PowerPC minimum)
  • 60 to 165 megabytes of free hard drive space

Note that Office 97 will not run on Windows 3.1.x-based PCs or non-PowerPC Macintoshes.

The two flavors

Office 97 Standard includes three primary applications (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) and a smaller viewing and e-mail application called Outlook. Office 97 Professional adds the Access database and Bookshelf Basics applications. Office 97 is an evolutionary revision of this popular application suite, and the applications in both offerings do include a more standardized look and feel. Office 97 also offers better inter-application integration, an interactive help system called Office Assistant, and integrated Internet access and HTML code generation.

The known problems

One of the most significant problems with Office 97 is that it does not easily or conveniently translate documents from Office 97 format to other application formats (not even to other versions of Office 97). For example, Word 97 cannot save a file into a complete Word 6.0/Word 95 format without the loss of some features.

Another significant problem is Office 97's size. Although Microsoft has an Office Upgrade Wizard designed to free up more hard disk space before installing, Office 97 requires an average of 165 megabytes of free hard drive space.

The upgrade question

Users should only upgrade to Office 97 if:

  • they have systems that can effectively run Office 97
  • the people they are sharing files with are also running Office 97
  • they do not have systems running Windows 3.1
  • they can use Office 97's new features
  • they have a local source of support

The support question

ISC does not currently support any part of Office 97. Although ISC is evaluating it for future support, when support is offered it will be only for the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint applications.

JOHN MULHERN III is a Consultant, ISC Client Services Group; DIANE FINK is a Help Desk Assistant, ISC Client Services Group.