Microsoft Office XP struck me initially as a minor upgrade from Office 2000, but I keep running across new features that are changing my mind.

WORD Word 2002 has a feature called “Reveal Formatting.” It displays all of the formatting codes in effect at the cursor, or for the highlighted text, and allows you to change them directly. You can also compare the formatting at two different places in the document and immediately spot any differences. WordPerfect users are accustomed to dismissing Word because Word doesn’t have WP’s “reveal codes” feature. But Word’s “reveal formatting” strikes me immediately as being even more powerful and easier to use.

SCANNING The new “Scanner and Camera Wizard” in Windows XP is a marvel – it makes the process of scanning photos easy enough for real people. (It hasn’t been up to now. I know too many people with scanners in the closet or under a desk to pretend otherwise.)

But Office XP adds another important scanning tool. “Microsoft Office Document Imaging” serves a slightly different purpose. It scans documents and saves them – and it uses the .TIF format that can hold multiple pages in a single file. Better, it performs OCR on the scanned documents and delivers the text to Word – no complicated front-end, no need to use a separate program, just push a button and go. If you’re the kind of power scanner that knows how to drive OmniPage or the other OCR programs out there, this isn’t for you. But for the rest of us, this is a great integrated tool. (To be honest, I’ve never met anyone yet who uses the powerful OCR programs. They’re a pain.)

PHOTO GALLERY FrontPage 2002 has added a “Photo Gallery” – one-click creation of a page with thumbnail images and links to the full-size images on your web site. There are several different page layouts. The consumer graphics programs – Picture It, Print Shop, and the like – will do the same thing, but if you’re a FrontPage user, this is very lovable.

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