Now that Office 2007 Beta 2 Tech Refresh is out, it's time to get serious about learning Office 2007. And the best way to learn Office quickly is to go straight to the horse's mouth, as they say in my home state of Montana. In other words, talk to the people who created Office. That way you can learn why and how, in addition to what and when.
The Office team is blogging like never before, and some new blogs have just come on-line recently. Here's a recap of some of the best places to learn more about Office through public conversations with the people who have designed and developed it:
Word Team blog. This one is brand-new this week, and it's going to be a great place to learn about all the powerful new functionality in Word 2007. For example, check out Jonathan Bailor's post on "creating a 21st century document," which includes both a video and a written commentary with a bunch of great screen shots.
Jensen Harris's blog. Jensen's blog is one of the most popular Microsoft blogs ever, and with good reason. It covers the thinking behind the Office UI in great detail; frankly, I enjoy some of the descriptions of paths not taken as much as the actual descriptions of how the UI works. And for developers, be sure to check out Savraj Dhanjal's series of guest posts on ribbon customization.
Brian Jones. Brian's blog has been the place to get an insider perspective on the Open XML standardization process for over a year now, and the high visitor volume means a lot of interesting converations take place in the threads as well.
Excel team blog. Another very active and popular blog, this one covering all things Excel. If you haven't seen Beta 2 TR yet, check out the recently posted screen shots of all the ribbons for the various Office clients.
Michael Affronti's blog. There are a few blogs covering Outlook, and this is the most active one, from a PM on the Outlook team.
Chris Pratley's OneNote blog. After a paternal-leave hiatus (congratulations!), Chris is back at it. Although the big four Office clients -- Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook -- tend to get the most attention, OneNote has some great improvements in the 2007 version and Chris's blog is the authoritative source for OneNote info.
Eric Rucker's Access blog. Another area of solid innovation for the 2007 Office system is Access. It's now a great tool for developers and power users to create highly interactive front ends to Sharepoint sites, thereby combining some of the best features of web apps and desktop apps.
Jeff Bell's Publisher blog. On this blog, Jeff covers Microsoft Publisher and also the save-to-XPS and save-to-PDF functionality that will be available for Office 2007.
Mark Jaremko's PowerPoint blog. This is a blog I keep meaning to spend more time on, because it has a ton of great information about how to use OfficeArt to create presentations that stand out from the crowd.
Visio team blog. This blog covers all things Visio, including very detailed and well-illustrated information about concepts such as sizing shapes, dynamic glue, and other things only a Visio-head would want to know. You know who you are. :-)
Add a few of these to your daily dose of RSS feeds, and you'll be an expert on Office 2007 by the time it ships.
Update: Blake Handler has an extremely thorough list of Microsoft bloggers that includes all of the above and many more covering other products and technology areas.