You might think that you already know all there is to know about Office 2003: you can use PowerPoint to create outstanding presentations, Word takes care of all of your day-to-day documents and Outlook is the best program to send and receive emails. So why bother finding out about Office 2007?

When I hear people ask this question I am constantly reminded of my friend who has been trying to learn to drive for nearly 30 years. Although he is well aware of the benefits he would reap if he became more independent - such as not having to rely on three different types of transport to make a simple journey that would take 20 minutes in a car - he has never found the inspiration to take the plunge and commit to a full programme of lessons to get him through that test. Over the years he has signed up with at least five different driving schools and has witnessed countless changes to the practical driving test.

It's not just his bank balance that has suffered. Having to learn, then unlearn and relearn how to drive 'correctly' with each new instructor over this time means that his confidence has also taken a hit.

He is constantly trying to remember whether it's now 'correct' to change down through all the gears instead of jumping from fourth to second and whether signalling before any manoeuvre he makes is a good or bad thing.

Perhaps the greatest influence to how we drive today is the concept of greener driving. Greener driving aims to produce less hazardous emissions and preserve the life of your vehicle, too. Driving at a slower speed, being aware of fuel consumption and the effects of wasted energy are all crucial points that have to be covered these days.

It's fair to say that anyone learning to drive 20 years ago would never have been introduced to some of today's techniques. Just as it's fair to say that using a PC only a few years ago was a completely different experience.

The development and growth of remote working means that new ways of file sharing are now well and truly established. Like green driving, using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 is one of the most far-reaching ways of working. It offers an integrated suite of server capabilities that can help improve organisational effectiveness, and facilitates information-sharing across boundaries for better business insight.

Getting back to my friend and his mixed up knowledge, it might seem unusual to him to have to know the speed limit for an articulated lorry on a country road - when, he asks, would he ever need to drive a lorry-load of new cars across the wilds of Derbyshire? It's this type of reluctance to learn that many people have which restricts them learning the new concepts of any program.

Similarly you might ask yourself why you should know about charting in Excel, or SmartArt in PowerPoint if you only ever use these programs for creating columns of technical information, and delivering a 10-minute presentation on competitor's brand placement. Just as road users need to know the restrictions and legal requirements of any other vehicle, it's going to make you a more effective communicator if you know about any new features the Office suite boasts. Having the knowledge of how each program can interact with another is going to help you use the suite to your advantage.

And it doesn't need to be daunting. If you keep up to date with each new release, it's much easier to brush up on the skills you already have. It's a bit like having to drive a different make or model of car; it's easy to find the brakes, clutch and accelerator in a new vehicle as you are used to using the same knowledge and skills to drive any other. The language of driving is more or less universal and so is the language of Office. For example, features such as the Office Button, Quick Launch Toolbar and the Ribbon are common to Word 2007, Excel 2007, PowerPoint 2007 and Access 2007.

Keeping an open mind and learning to use new skills with familiar programs is just one of the ways you can learn to keep up to date with the latest releases and ensure that you can quickly and easily tackle any updates to the programs you use.

Knowing how to save a file as a PDF is just like that. You might think that you will never need to use this command, and so don't have any interest in why and how to do this. However, you might want to save your files so they cannot be modified, but you want them to be easy to share and print. Examples include resumes, legal documents, and newsletters. Saving as PDF and XPS formats can help. All Office 2007 applications (except Project 2007) can now save to PDF. This extremely useful feature allows you to save to PDF format for Office 2007 files, and also open applications files from earlier Office versions and save these to PDF format.

Deciding on when to take the step to learn about Office 2007 should not be a question of 'if', but rather 'when'. You might think you know how to drive and you may have had lessons from someone who has been driving for years, but to get the most out of your time behind the wheel you would hopefully consult an expert - just as you should seek professional training in Office 2007 to help you gain expert learning and understanding. However long it takes or took you to learn how to drive, one thing's for certain - it should be less of an uphill struggle and more of a smooth transition than it has been for my friend.