That's right. Microsoft has put together a Citrix remote server environment so that you can go online, login to their server site and actually run your own version of any Office 2007 application. Test it. Play with it. Experiment. Save documents. And then go back and play with it some more.
Unfortunately, Microsoft moved around their Office web pages, so I can't tell you how to get to the test drive page through site clicks. But if you click this link, it'll take you to the start page: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/products/HA101687261033.aspx
There you'll see details about the Test Drive. You'll notice a button on that page (see image below) entitled Test Drive Microsoft Office. Click that button when you're ready to give it a shot.
Important Bandwidth Consideration!
Before you do give it a shot, realize that you will be logging into a remote server and the screen from that server will be passed through to your computer. This is more complicated than just viewing a web page. So unless you have a good, higher speed connection...this could be a futile experiment. I have a high speed connection, so I don't know how long it would take with a dial up. But I'd assume it would be quite slow going. So consider how fast your connection to the Internet is and how much time you want to spend waiting for it to connect and run.
After you click the Test Drive button shown above, you'll move on to the Citrix setup page. The page will move through various steps to get your system setup so that you will be able to operate the applications from your remote location. First it will check your web browser to verify that you have the capabilities for this process.
Step 2 requires you to load the Citrix Browser Plug-in. Follow the directions to add this to your browser. You'll only have to do this the first time. From then on, you can visit the site with fewer setup steps.
Once the plug-in is installed, it loads.
Now realize that many browsers these days have security settings that disallow some code and/or controls to be automatically loaded without your permission. This is a good thing because it protects you from malicious code. But you'll have to click the bar along the top of the active screen and choose Install ActiveX Control in order to proceed. If you don't, it won't work. This is coming from Microsoft, so it's not a problem. But whether you want to continue is up to you. I have no problem trusting Microsoft installs, so yes, I did add this control.
As part of the installation, you'll see a Security Warning, again asking you permission to install the needed files to your computer. If you want to run the Office 2007 Test Drive, you need to click Install, as shown in the image below.
The last main step is that you need to register with Microsoft and get yourself an ID. If you already have a Microsoft Passport ID, you can use that to gain access. However, even if you do already have an ID, Microsoft has a few survey questions to ask you regarding how you might use Office 2007. So yes, you'll need to endure a few questions if you want to continue. But again, you'll only have to go through this part on the initial setup.
If you have a Passport, you'll need to enter your registered email address and password. If you don't have a Passport, you'll be given a chance to obtain a Windows Live ID. They're actually now the same thing, I guess. Previously Microsoft called their ID registration a Passport. But now with the new Windows Live system, you get a Windows Live ID. The term Passport is no longer used, apparently. But if you did have a Passport from days gone by, you can still use that without having to obtain yet another registration ID.
Enter the ID you have. If you don't yet have one with Microsoft, click the Sign Up Now button and follow their directions to register for an ID.
After you've jumped through the registration and ID hoops, you'll be taken to the final step. Click the Launch Test Drive button as shown below. Note that this is the location you'll return to should you come back in the future.
Now go grab a soda or coffee...this will take maybe a minute or two to check your credentials and initialize your setup.
And maybe another minute for the next part of the setup.
In a couple minutes, you'll be taken to the Office 2007 Online page.
You did it!
Now comes the fun part.
In the screen below you'll see the listing of all the available applications within the Office Family. You see, these applications are all part of the Office family, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they will be part of the Office Suite that you may ultimately purchase. So, depending on the applications you may need for your work, you may have to purchase some of the applications separately. However, you can go to this comparison page to see which apps come with which versions of Office: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/suites/FX101635841033.aspx
The applications you can try in this Test Drive are: Access (database), Excel (spreadsheet), InfoPath (forms/database connectivity), OneNote (note pages that can handle various media input), Outlook (email, calendar, notes, contacts, todo list), Outlook Business Contact Manager (business oriented contact list extension for Outlook), Outlook Web Access (access/manage your business email anytime from the web, through the familiar Outlook interface), PowerPoint (presentation/graphics), Project (project management), Visio (diagrams/technical drawings), Word (word processing) and SharePoint Designer (the new Front Page web site development software).
Click on the name of the application you want to try. In a few seconds (depending on your connection speed), an actual, working copy of that software program will open. Open one of the sample documents, review the tutorial along the left (or close it to make more room, if you don't need it) and get busy playing around with the latest version of Word...or whichever application you choose to try.
In the image below, I've opened a sample Marketing Overview document that I can now experiment with to change the look and/or reformat the document.
Or you can click the Office button and choose New to get a blank page on which to play.
If you want to go back another day, just click the same start link at the beginning of this article. Click the Test Drive button and you'll be taken right to the Launch button. Click to launch the server again and you'll soon be back on the application list page where you can continue your experiments.
Note, I don't know how long this site will be available or if there is a limit to the times you can access the site. But I've been jumping into it over and over for a couple months now and it's yet to complain.
Have fun experimenting with the various Office 2007 family of programs.