Sometimes I feel like Microsoft keeps the Mac BU around just so it can mock and ridicule it. The unit never seems to get to join in the fun when it comes time to release a new iteration of Office. Not, at least, until well after […]


Sometimes I feel like Microsoft keeps the Mac BU around just so it can mock and ridicule it. The unit never seems to get to join in the fun when it comes time to release a new iteration of Office. Not, at least, until well after its PC counterparts. The official line is that the development cycle for both products is always around two to three years, so the schedule dictates when new releases become available — which explains why we won’t be seeing Office 2010 until 2011. Regardless of cycles, Office for Mac is badly in need of an upgrade — right now.

I have Office 2008, but I can count the number of times I use it in one month on one finger. Whenever possible, I use Google Docs or Bean (an excellent freeware multiformat text editor for Mac) for any Word doc editing I may need to do, which is almost none now that I’ve left school and the corporate world behind. Even though a lot of people still depend on the format, as the number of Mac users grows, I suspect Office will continue to lose ground, especially if Microsoft continues to offer such seriously unpleasant Mac-specific software.

Sometimes I swear Office 2008 was just a ploy to get me to install Windows on a Boot Camp partition and run Office 2007. I find command and menu placement to be completely unintuitive and just plain awkward on the Mac version. Google Docs in an SSB seems like a natively designed OS X app by comparison.

Of course, a big part of the announcement of Office 2010 was the revelation of a suite of online apps, which theoretically should be accessible from any browser on any platform (unless MS pulls a classic IE-only block, which I don’t think it would for fear of inciting riots). So, Mac users will be able to join in on the fun, right? Not quite. The web portion of Office 2010, from what I gather from Microsoft’s press releases about the software, will complement and work together with the old-fashioned installed media portion. I think it’ll end up looking much more like iWork.com and iWork than Zoho Writer or Google Docs.

Microsoft, if you want to be a software company, be one. Clearly you think it makes business sense to develop for Mac, or the Mac BU wouldn’t exist (unless my conspiracy theories above are correct). If that’s the case, treat it as you would any other software, and build excitement by launching cross-platform products of consistent quality, all at once.

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  1. Office sucks, but you should know after all these years that the Mac and Windows versions of Office are always staggered – the Mac version is released between Windows versions.

    The online component only validates Google’s approach. I would like to see Office become less and less relevant.

    1. Dude if you knew about computers you would know that windows is better and word is too.

    2. No “DUDE”, if YOU knew about computers then you would know that OS X is much better than windows.

  2. I used to defend the macBU. that was when they somehow managed to make Office, a messenger client, a web browser and a media player. Now all they make is Office every 2-3 years.

    Are they still the largest Mac developer outside of Apple? If so, why? maybe that size is what contributes to a very mediocre product I haven’t used in years.

  3. What is your permanent job if you have left the corporate world behind?

    1. If your comment was directed at me, I still use Office at my 7-4, but it is not Mac Office.

      I have not needed Mac Office for my freelance work because the files sent to me can be opened and edited in iWork. I’m not getting complicated spreadsheets or databases from clients. I’m getting invoices, press releases, and marketing info which is not using anything but the most basic text formatting.

  4. I just use iWork. No sense in using Office if I don’t have to. When I need to give someone on a PC a document, I export it to rtf or doc.

  5. I don’t like to use Office 08 either for it complexity and stick to iwork whenever possible. But I would choose Office 08 over Google Docs any day. It still is by far the most capable Office suite out there and it’s clear that it has to lack some of the intuitivity (due to so many functions) that we know and love from other Mac software. I give them credit for that. Could it be better? Of course, but I think it still is an excellent product and the only choice for many pro-users. I think you are to harsh on the MacBU. The fact that you’re into Google Docs shows that you don’t need a lot of features, but remember that many people do need more. I’m sure even in 2011 Office 08 will still beat Google Docs (and still feel a lot more like a Mac application then Google Docs does).

  6. After using Office for over a decade. I’ve dropped it altogether. I didn’t realize how heavy a chain it was until I removed the shackles and moved on. I’m sailing! :)

  7. Iwork does pretty much everything Office does….at a cheaper price.

    1. Oh cmon. I love iWork ’09 – I use it all the time. But it doesn’t even come close to offering the features that MS Office on Windows does, not even close.

    2. However, Other James, that does illustrate a good point: if standard users don’t notice a difference in the level of functionality between Office and iWork, then what that tells me is that most users don’t need Office. And if you don’t need it, why pay the price?

    3. Time out, did you just call me a “standard user”? That hurts……=(

      But honestly, what core functionally does iWork not have? I’ve used Office as long as I can remember, and I’ve been using iWork for a few months, and honestly, from my perspective (that of a student who uses these tools mostly for school papers, presentations, and so on) I don’t see a major feature that Office has over iWork (to be fair, I don’t use excel or numbers all that much, so maybe excel is way better). Maybe there is an enterprise thing I’m missing, (cause I’ve never been in the “business world”), but as a student, iWork does everything I need to succeed in school.

    4. natsfan7: My deepest apologies. I mean to say, “Classic” or maybe “Super-deluxe”.

  8. I much prefer to the set-up of the Mac edition of Office to that of the Window’s Office 2008. While they are not different in many ways, the interface is so much easier to use in my opinion that that god-forsaken mess of 2008’s ribbons or whatever-they’re-called menu system.

    More and more I am using iWorks for school papers. It was once the case that I would only use Pages for smaller assignments and things that didn’t need the professional touches of Word (such as a competent Header/Footer editor). However, Word (and other Office programs) have issues working with Spaces in my experience (the cursor will shift to a different space, almost annually during work) and this has pushed me to use Pages more.

    I am the kind of person who plays with Excel for fun but not anymore since I found Numbers. It isn’t much of a change from Excel, but it just does the job better and prettier.

  9. Number can’t do trendline, that’s the most problem I face if I want to leave office 2008.

    1. Numbers can do trend lines as well as error bars. Click on the graph tool in the inspector and then click “Advanced” towards the bottom of the dialog box. The advanced tools appear and you can select trend lines of varying types (linear, logarithmic, polynomial, etc)

  10. Jonathan Wong Tuesday, July 14, 2009

    If I’m not mistaken, there will be a free version of Office Web Apps for anyone to use, as long as they have a WIndows Live ID.

    That version I believe has no dependencies whatsoever with any on-premise or desktop-bound versions of Office 2010. And it would be fully supported in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari (which I guess implies Chrome support as well).

    Whole thing is AJAX-ified; No need for Silverlight either!

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