In the Computers newsletter this month:
- New version of Microsoft Office – what have they done?
- Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 – out at the end of July but chances are you already have it
- A reader’s tip about Santander bank
No sign of the baby yet, so I’ve managed to get some time to sit down and write my newsletter.
Which is handy, because Microsoft have been busy this month. As well as launching a new version of Microsoft Office (including Word, Excel, Powerpoint and so on) they’ve also prepared a big update to Windows 7 – which you’ll shortly be getting if you have Windows 7 on your PC.
Microsoft Office 2010 – the newest version
Microsoft Office is the collection of Word, Excel, Powerpoint and a few other programs. You can either get them separately or as a collection – either way, there’s a new version just out.
It doesn’t mean you need to get rid of the old version or that you have to switch to the new one. If you have the old one and it does everything you need, you can stick with it (I’m still using the 2003 version with no problems). But if you haven’t got Office and want to get it or if you might want to upgrade, it’s worth knowing what they’ve changed.
By the way, if you do have a previous version and want to upgrade, you don’t need to pay the full price. You can get a discounted upgrade version, which is quite a bit cheaper than buying it from scratch.
So what have they changed?
Remember a few weeks ago I wrote about something called “cloud computing”? (see here ) Well, Microsoft have created a “web app” version of Microsoft Office. So you can use Word or Excel across the internet, even if you don’t have it installed on your PC. If you’re interested, the webpage is here. Personally, I suspect there’ll be a few bugs that won’t get sorted out for a month or two, so it might be worth leaving it until then, but there’s no harm in having a look!
They’ve also made it so you can easily create pdf files from Word or Excel. You just click a button and it creates a pdf – quite handy if you want a document to send to someone who doesn’t have Word or if you want something to send to a printing company.
They’ve also changed the way printer settings work. It means that as you change (for example) the margin on a page, you can see how it’ll print out, so you can see the effect of your changes. Quite a handy feature, though if you’ve used the old versions it might take a bit of getting used to.
PowerPoint (the program for business presentations) is improved, too. You can now easily get a video from youtube and include it in a presentation. So a presentation can easily include video as well as “slides”.
There are some nifty little improvements, I have to admit. But if you’re happily using a previous version of Office, I wouldn’t recommend upgrading – the changes aren’t big enough to be worth the cost or learning the new system.
Windows 7 – out for less than a year and already they’re updating it
But don’t worry, this isn’t an update like the Microsoft Office update. This is what they call a service pack. That’s a batch of updates and tweaks that you’ll automatically get if you have Windows set to update itself over the internet.
This new Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 should be out at the end of July. But in a way it’s already out.
Sound confusing? It is.
You see, the service pack itself is coming out at the end of July. But I mentioned it’s a collection of updates and tweaks. And (from what Microsoft have announced) all of the updates and tweaks are already out – it’s just collecting them together in one place. So if you have Windows set to automatically update, you’ll probably have them all already.
So why on earth are they bothering with all the fuss? For two reasons.
First, for businesses with lots of PCs, it’s easier to install all the updates in one go from a service pack, rather than letting each PC automatically get each one as and when. It makes life easier, particularly if a business switches lots of PCs to Windows 7 at once.
And secondly, a lot of people won’t buy a new version of Windows when it first comes out. They wait for a while to be sure all of the crucial bugs have been sorted. Some people use a rule of thumb to wait 6 months. Others wait until the first service pack, thinking that once a service pack is released, it’ll fix any major problems.
So Microsoft are very keen to get a service pack out so people (businesses in particular) are happy to switch to Windows 7. So they’re getting one out as early as possible, even if it means “cobbling it together” from existing updates.
What does it mean for you? Well, at the end of July you might get a big update that takes a while to download – you don’t need to worry about it. And if you hear people talking about Service Pack 1 and you’re worried about whether you’ve got it, you don’t need to worry. Since all the updates were out already it doesn’t really matter whether you’ve got it or not.
(By the way, we haven’t upgraded our work PCs to Windows 7 – we’re still using XP and it works fine. Though we have a separate PC running Windows Vista and one running Windows 7 so we can check how they work and how they’re different).
A useful tip about Santander from a reader
(See my article from last time)
I would like to add my comment about your article under your heading of ‘A Word about Online Banking’. I have recently gone online with my Santander current account but I needed their technical assistance because as far as they are concerned I do not own a mobile phone and I’ll point out to you where they were helpful to me.To get into my account I go into Internet Explorer and go to the sandtander website (If you’re doing this for the first time they offer you lots of help including their own Registration no., Personal ID no. and Passcode for you which you are allowed to change. They do ask for a passcode to be of alpha numerics and I think of a maximum of 16 digits).
Returning to the sandtander website which I click on to and a screen comes up and I click on to ‘Online banking Log on’. Then another screen comes up asking me to insert my ‘Personal ID’, my ‘Passcode’ and ‘Registration no.’ and then I click on ‘Submit’. Another screen comes up headed ‘One Time Passcode’. You go to the bottom of this screen and click on ‘Register now’. Up comes, ‘One Time Password (OTP) service Terms and Conditions’.
At the bottom of this screen are two options to click on to, one is ‘I Agree’ and the other is ‘I Disagree’. Here I had to ask Santander for their help pointing out to them that I have no mobile phone, and they told me to click on ‘I Disagree’. Then up pops ‘My Personal Home Page’ showing my account no. and current balance and when I click on my account no. up comes the details of my statement.
I have also managed to cancel a Direct Debit and amend the totals of a couple of Standing Orders.
Thanks – well worth knowing if anyone is banking with Santander or thinking of opening an account with them. Thanks to E.A.S for the tip (and to several others who wrote in with similar tips).
Right, that’s all for now!