The focus in this release is on making Office smarter, providing better collaboration tools and self-customising to individual users (with a bit of help). The "Smart Tags" are a clever way of automatically matching data in documents to tasks such as inserting an address when you're writing a letter in Word or copying and pasting data in Excel. This is extremely welcome as is the ability to customise auto-correct (don't correct these types of errors but do correct these). Also new are "Task panes". Imagine a cross between a Wizard and the Help section which, by means of some drop-down menus makes relevant commands easily available, thus achieving results faster.
As well as the cross-product improvements, each suite has had an overhaul. Outlook has seen many tweaks that improve usability and productivity notably auto-correct during typing and improved ease of setting up mail accounts plus support for Hotmail. PowerPoint contains a plethora of enjoyable new effects that can be combined in multiple ways leading to the swishiest presentations and some useful new applications most notably the organisation chart creator. Word and Excel benefit the most from "Smart Tags" and "Task Panes". Some new useful features include a merge function in Word for incorporating other users' changes, a "Word Count" display for those late-night essays, a drop-down menu in Excel with commonly used functions and an extremely easy-to-use set of diagram creators.
Office XP will improve productivity and results across the entire application suite. The improved functionality especially with "Smart Tags" and "Task Panes" once learnt will save users considerable time in creating quality documents. --Colin Neal