Microsoft Training company offers support forum to the public to handle the sudden wave of questions following the release of Office 2007. The once paid-members only support forum is now free to all internet users who seek answers from Microsoft Training professionals about Office and Dreamweaver.

Best Training (, a UK training market leader that offers courses in a wide range of Microsoft products, has opened their user support forum to the general public.

The support forum was originally designed to provide on-line support to students who had attended Best Training's courses and needed answers to questions from the team's staff of Microsoft Certified Trainers.

In a response to growing requests for information, Best Training has announced it will offer a year of free support forum access to anyone, not just former students.

One of the company's directors, Howard Kember explains. "We want to offer our experience and training to a wider user base. By attracting more support forum members, we can build a stronger support community for our customers."

The support forum expansion is partly due to an increase in training requests after Microsoft released Office 2007. Microsoft completely redesigned the interface in response to complaints about how inefficient the old design was becoming. The original version of Word 1.0, for example, had about 100 commands. Twenty years later, Word 2003 contained over 1500 commands packed into an interface that wasn't substantially different.

"The commands in Office 2007 are in a new ribbon format. The new format is designed to be more intuitive to users. But for those who have to 'unlearn' old habits, the change can be more difficult. It's brilliant, but confusing to experienced users. Suddenly they don't know where anything is and they feel frustrated. The change to the support forum allows us to offer everyone a way to have their questions answered for free by Microsoft Training Experts," Mr Kember said.

The increased training demand is also driven by the popularity of the new release. According to market research firm NPD Group Inc., first week sales of Office 2007 were more than double the first week sales for Office 2003.

The release of the new office suite has created a demand for Office 2007 certifications which in turn creates a demand for more training. Self-trained certification seekers depend on resources such as support forums to guide their training to prepare them for the certification exams.

The support forums allow any registered user to post a question and have it answered by one of Best Training's trainers within 24 hours. Other users can also attempt to answer or discuss the problem. Old questions are kept on the support forum, creating a growing database of resolved issues.