The (Few) Ways Vista Makes Office Work Better

It's not a sea change, but there are some new tricks. "Just about everything in Office 2007 works on XP," he says. "But there are a few things that are special to Vista." Here's a list of how Office 2007 -- or, in fact, any version of Office -- can benefit from Vista's new features:

-- Integrated search: Office 2007 is able to leverage Vista's underlying Instant Search functionality, whereas there is no such thing in Office 2007 on XP without downloading Windows Desktop Search 3.0 for Windows XP or a third-party application like Google Desktop. How does it work? In one scenario, someone looking for Word documents mentioning a specific name can just type the name into a box in the Start menu and voila, up comes a list of files that contain matching text inside of documents.

-- Security: BitLocker Drive Encryption, found in Vista Ultimate and Enterprise editions, addresses the threats of lost or stolen laptops and PCs, preventing thieves and hackers from viewing those sensitive documents. There's tons of encryption software out there for XP, but Vista builds it right in.

-- RSS feeds: Syndicated feeds aren't good only for news and blogs. They can also track documents, sales leads, to-do lists, calendars, and more. Vista has a common data store for applications to access RSS information, as well as a download engine for RSS feeds. That allows users to do things like pull calendar data from a conference Web site directly into their Outlook calendars.

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-- Auxilary displays: A new feature in Vista allows laptop-makers to build computers with small screens on the outside of the computer, similar to how closed clamshell cellphones might have screens that display the time or a photo when closed. For example, Capossela says, Toshiba has a new tablet PC out for businesses with a small screen that notifies users of new Outlook messages even if the computer isn't open.

-- Gadgets: The new Windows Sidebar in Vista shows little visual applets like a scratchpad for notes or a clock called gadgets. The gadgets that come with Vista don't leverage Office, but developers are already creating gadgets that do. One available for download on a Microsoft-hosted repository online uses Outlook to notify people of the number of upcoming appointments.