If you don't know what I am talking about, try it now in Word 2003. Hold down ALT key on your keyboard then click a word inside a document and watch the Research task pane. With the default search scope of "all reference books", entries for this word found in Encarta, Thesaurus and Translation will be returned in seconds. If you only want to see one of them being searched, simply change the search scope list and your future search will be limited to the scope you choose. For me, I use the English to Chinese bilingual translation option exclusively and feel like I am never going to need an electronic dictionary any more even with my poor English vocabulary.
Of course, this is just a taste of the powerful Office Research Service introduced in Office System 2003. If you want to get more out of it, I recommend you to read relate topics in the Office section on MSDN website. In particular, Chris Kunicki's article "Build Your Own Research Library with Office 2003 and the Google Web Service API" is a must read if you can't live without googling around.
1) If there is a selection prior to ALT-Click, the content of the selection will be sent to the Research service;
2) This feature is also available in some other Office products. For example, you can do the same thing in PowerPoint 2003. Unfortunately my favorite InfoPath doesn't have it. Otherwise, the Simple .Text Blog Editor would be more attractive, 🙂
3) In case you haven't noticed yet, Internet access is required for this to work.
[Update 07/21/2004] I just found Outlook's way to invoke the Office Research Service is even cooler: ALT+-Click is only necessary if the Research task pane is not activated. Otherwise, clicking on any word will bring it to the attention of the service. Got a word that you don't know in your Email? Click it!