MSO 2007 is excellent, IMHO, and well worth the £40 (it's a steal at that price)!
Reviews were maybe 'picky' as you say, but the fact is that ppl don't like change. 2007 v is a big change, & all familiar items are hidden to some extent (menu bar for example) which is now replaced by a ribbon. Navigation is therefore difficult at first, but the F1 Help is very good.
I've had 2007 since it first came out; it's a steep learning curve, but I wouldn't go back to 2003 at all now.
When I try and use 2003 it takes me twice as long owing to the menus being different.
Daughter may well be using 2003 at work, but I'm sure many office environments will move to 2007 in good time. If she gets it, she'll be ahead of the game, and be able to teach others, won't she?