Office 2003 Basics: What is Office 2003?

Lesson 1: What is Office 2003?


Office 2003 is Microsoft Corp.'s latest version of its popular business software suite. The Office 2003 suite, or group, of software programs is used in home and office settings to accomplish a variety of computing tasks.

You may already be familiar with previous versions of Microsoft Office such as Microsoft Office 97, Microsoft Office 2000, or Microsoft 2002 (XP). In this course, you'll master basic skills common to programs in Office 2003 Standard, including Word (word-processing application), Excel (spreadsheet application), Outlook (email application), and PowerPoint (presentation application).

This course is beneficial for those who are completely new to Microsoft Office and those who are currently using a previous version.

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Discuss Microsoft Office 2003's basic components
  • Identify the version of Office running
  • Understand the benefits of upgrading to Office 2003
  • Know how to purchase Office 2003

What is Microsoft Office 2003?

Microsoft Office 2003 is a suite—or group—of software programs that are used in home and office settings to accomplish a variety of computing tasks. The programs included in Office 2003 are designed to work together, making typical office tasks faster and easier.

Everyone has different computing needs. For example, a casual home user probably has little use for more sophisticated applications such as Microsoft Access or developer tools. So Microsoft developed different versions of Office 2003.

They include:

  • Office Standard Edition 2003 (Word, Excel, Outlook, amd PowerPoint)
  • Office Professional Edition 2003
  • Office Small Business Edition 2003
  • Office Student and Teacher Edition 2003

For a complete description of what each version contains, visit (opens in a new browser window)

What version of Office do I have?

You may be confused as to whether or not the computer you're working on has Office 2003.

Here's a simple test:

  • If you have Word 2003, you have Office 2003.
  • If you have Word XP, also known as Word 2002, you have Office XP.
  • If you have Word 2000, you have Office 2000.
  • If you have Word 97, you have Office 97.
  • If you have Word 6.0, you have Office 4.x.
  • If you have Works, you do not own a version of Office.

To find out which version you have, while you're in Word click Help and choose About Microsoft Office Word.

Why upgrade to Microsoft Office 2003?

Before you upgrade your computer to Office 2003, consider the following:

  • Does your current software meet your current or future computing needs? Why or why not? If you're a typical home user, Office 2003 Standard may meet your needs. If you currently own a previous version of Office, you may be eligible to purchase the upgrade. Visit Microsoft's website for pricing information.
  • Check for compatibility. Will Office 2003 run on your computer's processor? Is Office 2003 compatible with your current operating system (it requires either the Windows XP or Windows 2000 operating system; it will not work with the older Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Millennium Edition)? How much RAM will it require? How much hard disk space is needed? What drive, display, or peripherals may be needed?
  • Conduct additional research. CNET offers several informative reviews and articles. Learning about the software's capabilities may convince you it's worth the cost of upgrading.
  • If you have the opportunity, test Office 2003 (at a friend's house, the library, school, or work, for example) before buying. For a small fee, you can order a 30-day trial version of Office 2003 from Microsoft's website.
  • Don't be afraid of change. Although Office 2003 takes some getting used to, you may find working with the new interface is easier than ever.

Depending on which version of Office you have, there are many reasons to upgrade to 2003. Here are just a few:

  • Excellent anti-spam and other dramatic enhancements applied to Outlook, including search folders and colored message flags
  • Word improvements include reading view, research pane, and the ability to protect portions of a document
  • Full-screen video clips in PowerPoint
  • The Task pane allows you to accomplish more in less time
  • Quickly and easily access information from the Web while working within an Office program
  • Send for Review helps you easily track changes made to your documents
  • Manage all of your email accounts using Microsoft Outlook
  • Smart tags alert you to important actions, such as formatting options for pasted information and formula error correction

For pricing and complete descriptions of each version, visit Microsoft.

How to buy Office 2003

You have a variety of purchasing options:

  • Buy it off the shelf at a brick-and-mortar office superstore, discount store, or electronics store.
  • Shop online at the Microsoft website (usually the most expensive option).
  • If you are a student or teacher, check out JourneyEd. You may be eligible for educational discounts.
  • Take some time to look around for the best deal. Smart shopping can really pay off!


Consider whether or not you need or want to upgrade to Office 2003.

  • Think about your computing needs, now and in the future.
  • Research the product before buying. Visit the Microsoft website, but also seek out unbiased options.