It's hard to go back to using something older and obviously less-better than what you've gotten used to using. Okay, that was a convoluted sentence. Let me start again. It's hard to go back to using Microsoft Windows 2000 and Office 2000 when you've been using Windows XP and Office 2002 & 2003 for over four years now. That's what's happening to me at my "summer" (it's winter in Australia) internship here in Melbourne. The multinational company I'm working for is quite awesome, as is its global IT setup, but its basic software installation is still seven years old. And the fact that I'm having to spend all day using an older version of Microsoft Word (which is what I spend most of my day on) is rather frustrating.

It's not all that bad, actually. Most of the functionality I need is there and the hardware that I'm using (a Pentium-IV HT processor with 1 gig of RAM) barely even notices that it's running software (the good part about using brand new hardware with older software). I'm also using a higher resolution display so I get more screen real estate than I normally do, which is quite cool. No, all that is just fine and dandy. Actually, it's quite awesome. It's just the little things that get to me.

Styles, for example. Style functionality was a major change between Word 2000 and 2002. In 2000, you went to Format > Styles in the menu bar and got a pop-up options window that let you manipulate the styles used in the document. 2002 onwards, Format > Styles, or just clicking the styles icon in the menu bar, opens up a panel on the right side of the text editing window. This allows you to manipulate styles while still being able to work on the text itself. This change was awesome and it revolutionized the way in which I used styles. I no longer have that coolness to work with.

Copy-pasting behaviour also changed between the versions, with the newer one letting you be more accurate with your selection (instead of quickly moving your selection to include the paragraph mark after the last word and then being a pain about letting you deselect just that). Windows 2002 also made it easier to work with hyperlinks and with document versioning (accepting/rejecting all changes in the document, switching views that do or don't show markup, etc.).

While these minor things don't really make my life all that much harder (since I use a lot of keyboard shortcuts and those are mostly the same between the two versions) it does frustrate me a little every now and again. Particularly the styles thing.

All my complaining aside, I don't really blame the company for sticking with the Windows 2000-based system that they have in place right now. It's hard (and expensive) to upgrade on a global scale, especially when you're as big as they are and you want to guarantee an excellent level of technical support (which they do and are very good at). What's fun though is that, over the next year or so, the whole organization is moving to a Windows Vista setup. Office 2007's new, tabbed menu system might confuse the heck out of some people (even though it's not all that different despite appearing to be drastically better that the current one), but for the people like me who are suffering under Office 2000, it should bring about a much appreciated jump in productivity. And if not an increase it productivity, at least a decrease in overall levels of frustration :)