Friday, February 9, 2007

Office 2007 Gripes

These Office 2007 gripes were added to my site today.

As a starting point, I used this article by Paul Boutin in Slate: Microsoft's Office 2007, the most annoying computer upgrade since Windows 95 (January 30, 2007). Cruel words from someone who, in general is pro-Microsoft.

  • Mr. Boutin argues that Office is Microsoft's real monopoly, not Windows and offers pricing as proof. The cheapest upgrade to Vista is $100, the cheapest upgrade to Office is $150, but that's without Outlook, which adds another $100 to the price. Ouch.
  • Quoting: "Upgrading to Vista is mostly painless but not necessary, while upgrading to Office 2007 is painful but inevitable."
  • Quoting: "Office 2007 ... seems to go out of its way to make your transition as difficult as possible. By default, the Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files you create won't open for people who have older versions of the software." Needless to say, Microsoft has free software to let you deal with files created in Office 2007 even if you don't have Office 2007 installed. But, there is no Mac version.
  • This is my favorite point in the article. Quoting: "My home office has two computers, a Mac with Office 2004 and a PC running Office 97. I've never needed to upgrade for work." Even techies see no reason to use the latest versions of Office. Mr. Boutin still uses the brutally old Office 97, I use Office 2000 and I've been told by the computer reporter for a major newspaper that he too still uses Office 97. Non techies take note.
  • Quoting again "First reaction: They changed everything! Office 2007 deletes the old toolbars and menus at the top of the screen and replaces them with the Ribbon, an overlapping set of tabs that regroups each application's functions". Every article I've seen on Office 2007 has gripes about the new user interface and the hubris of Microsoft in not offering a fallback to the older familiar interface.
In summary, Office 2007 is expensive, hard to learn because of major user interface changes and less compatible with the rest of the world that has standardized on the file formats used by the last few versions of Office.

For argument sake, assume that the new file formats are an improvement and the new user interface will eventually make you more productive after spending the time and effort to learn it. Even then, Office 2007 is analogous to new keyboard layouts. The current layout of keys on a keyboard and typewriter date from ancient times and are inefficient. So what? We all use it, we're used to it and the world has much invested in it. It's a standard. Even "better" layouts have no chance of getting adopted. This is what should happen to Office 2007 also. My guess is that sooner or later Microsoft will release a patch for Office 2007 that lets people switch to the "classic" interface. Think clippy.

If your judgment is so poor as to actually purchase Office 2007, keep it to yourself. It's a step below tatoos.
FYI: You can see Office 2007 for yourself with a test drive that runs inside a web browser.
FYI: Microsoft created free training videos for Office 2007 and 2003.

1 comment:

Tom said...

So, so true. I have tried Office 2007 for about 3 months in a work situation and just really dislike it. And I am in the category of techies. I only use it because others in the office do and I don't want to deal with compatibility issues with documents they've created.

Fortunately when I used to use Office 2003, I could open Office 2007 documents, but it takes some time because it has to go through a conversion process before it will open.

I hate the ribbon. I am completely with you. Here's to hoping Microsoft disables this annoying new "feature" and brings back the old tried-and-true mode with a File/Edit/etc menu bar.