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We've installed various flavors of Microsoft Office on several PCs. Judging by our experiences, here's what you might see when setting up Office 2007 for the first time.

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If you have a beta version of Office 2007, then you should uninstall that before saving the final, new software to your hard drive.

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Because we had some older Office applications already on our hard drive, Microsoft gave us the choice to upgrade or customize the installation of Office 2007. However, once you make your pick, there's no Back button to let you change your mind without canceling the installation process.

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If you have Office 2003 or older on your computer, you'll have to decide whether to part with those applications or not.

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If you install Office 2007 and keep Office 2003, keep in mind that it won't be entirely seamless to switch between the two versions of each application later. For example, when we used Word 2003 on a Windows XP computer, then exited the application and started up Word 2007, we had to wait several minutes for Microsoft to complete a Configuration Progress check.

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Similarly, we were on hold for a few minutes after we used Word 2007, exited, then opened Word 2003.

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If you keep Office 2003 and 2007 on the same computer, you'll need to install a free converter later to use the older software to open the newer files.

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During the Office 2007 installation, if you choose Customize rather than Install Now or Upgrade, you'll see a list of applications and below them, folders and subfolders showing the tools each application includes. Here's what we saw when we installed Office 2007 Professional. You can reject the tools you don't need, although there's no explanation of what you might miss. For instance, if you deselect Office Tools, you won't get its spell-checking, dictionary, and thesaurus support for languages from Afrikaans to Yoruba.

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The End User License Agreement, or EULA, includes a whopping 10,376 words. If you bought the software in a store, pay attention to the FPP Retail License Terms. If Office came preinstalled on your computer, look at the OEM terms. By agreeing to these terms, you'll allow Microsoft to connect to the Internet for help resources and to retrieve various document templates. You can read the EULA from within the applications later by choosing the Options button from the Office logo menu, then Resources.

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Once we made our final choices, our separate installations of Microsoft Office 2007 Standard and Professional took between 10 and 15 minutes. The software package eats up less hard drive space than in the past--just about 3GB for Office Standard. The new default Office Open XML files are also smaller.

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Once you've installed Office 2007, Microsoft encourages you to visit its Web site for updates and advice. If you're upgrading, you might want to check out Microsoft's Command Reference Guides to find where features have moved from Office 2003.

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If you're connected the Internet, you can validate your copy of Office 2007 in a matter of moments. If you don't have Internet access, you can activate the software by calling a toll-free telephone number. If you postpone this process, you can run the applications 25 times before you must validate your license.

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Once you open the Office 2007 software, the Privacy Options menu lets you choose whether to allow Microsoft to automatically connect to the Internet when you seek Help topics or if the software crashes. The Customer Experience Improvement Program allows Microsoft to collect information about how you use Office. Microsoft turns on the least intrusive options by default. We're glad that Microsoft does not clutter your desktop or system tray with a shortcut to Office 2007 applications. Unless you create a shortcut on your own, the Windows Start menu is the only way to access the software initially.

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In one case, we installed Office 2007 Professional while not connecting to the Internet. Once Word 2007 was running, Microsoft encouraged us to sign up for online updates.

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If you're running Windows XP, once you open Outlook, it will prompt you to install its new Instant Search, which lets you look through e-mail messages, calendar appointments, tasks, and RSS feeds. This won't happen if you already have Windows Vista, which includes Instant Search.

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