Office XP Basics: What is Office XP?

Lesson 1: What is Office XP?


Office XP is Microsoft's latest version of its popular business software suite. The Office XP 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 or Microsoft Office 2000. In this course, you'll master basic skills common to programs in Office XP 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 XP's basic components

What is Microsoft Office XP?

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

Everyone has different computing needs. For example, casual home users probably have little use for more sophisticated applications like Microsoft Access or developer tools, so Microsoft developed different versions of Office XP.

They include:
  • Office XP Standard (Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint)
  • Office XP Professional
  • Office XP Standard for Students and Teachers
  • Office XP Developer

What version of Office do I have?

You may be confused whether the computer you're working on has Office XP.

Here's a simple test:
  • 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 of Word you have, click Help and choose About.

Why upgrade to Microsoft Office XP?

Before you upgrade your computer to Office XP, 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 XP 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 XP run on your computer's processor? Is Office XP compatible with your current operating system? (It doesn't work with Windows 95.) 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 that it's worth the cost of upgrading.
  • If you have the opportunity, test Office XP at a friend's house, at work, or at your local library or school before buying. For a small fee, you can order a 30-day trial version of Office XP from the Microsoft website.
  • Don't be afraid of change. Although Office XP takes some getting used to, you may find that working with the new interface is easier than ever.

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

  • 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 that are 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, formula error correction, and more.

For pricing and complete descriptions of each version, visit

How to buy Office XP

You have a variety of purchasing options:

  • Buy it off the shelf at a a brick-and-mortar office superstore, discount store, or electronics store.
  • Shop online at the Microsoft website (this is usually the most expensive option).
  • If you are a student or teacher, check out 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 you need or want to upgrade to Office XP:

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