Thanks jeremebp for the reply.
I tried what you suggested. For instance, I opened MS Word, then 'Open'. In the ensuing window, I adjusted my column widths, then clicked up a level, did the same in that window, clicked up...changed, etc., all the way to the very end of the folder listings, until the up arrow grated out. Alas, no success.
I have a hard time believing that MS would not allow this to be modified and saved. I remember in XP being able to set a view and then have it apply to all folders. Maybe I'm not seeing what's in front of me, but I haven't seen any such option in Win 7.
Still looking for a solution.