Design Your Next Microsoft Office

19 Comments

This last week, headlines were made about how Microsoft had delayed the release of Office for Mac 2008 until January of 2008, thanks to issues with product quality. But, given the pervasiveness of the Office platform, both on Mac and PC, I wonder just what features could possibly be added to make me yearn for a new upgrade – beyond the feeling that I need to keep up with the Jones’s.

As I understand it, the major developments in Office for Mac 2008 will be that it’s designed for Intel-based Macs, and, hopefully, better compatibility with the latest documents created by Office 2007 toting Windows users. There’s also a new time management application, alongside Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage.

Big deal.

Love it or hate it, the current version of the Microsoft Office suite you have on your Mac is probably working for you. Word, Excel, PowerPoint… they all make sense. While the applications may crash on occasion, and there’s no doubt they could be simplified, or tweaks could be made, I’m just not expecting a massive overhaul of the Office family that would make me fork out the cash for the next generation of the software. In fact, I somewhat resent the fact that one of the main drivers to upgrade would be simply to make it “not break” when sent incompatible documents from Windows Office 2007. We would basically be rewarding Microsoft for making buggy software.

Are you planning to make an upgrade to Office for Mac 2008 once it debuts? And if not, can you think of what features you would want in your next Microsoft Office? Today, you’re the product manager. What features are you going to ask engineering to code?

19 Comments

Alex Krenvalk

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Joey Livingston

Unless the make MS Access available for Mac, I’ll stick with iWork. I found out recently that you can paste back and forth pretty much seemlessly between MS Access in Parallels and iWork Numbers.

Nick Brogna

I would really, really hope that the stability of Entourage is greatly improved, especially with large Identity databases (pretty much anything over 2GB). I have a number of entertainment industry clients where email is their life and it’s hard to keep telling them that they have to repeatedly rebuild their database (a task that can take upwards of 2 hours for a ~2GB database on a G4 PowerBook) simply because Entourage is a piece of ass that chokes unless you continuously monitor the size of your identity database and prune it when it gets too large.

Better yet, we could jump into the 21st century and do away with the monolithic, proprietary single-point-of-failure monstrosity that is the Identity database all together. Something that actually makes disaster recovery not a chore and doesn’t completely lock you into using Entourage until you die or get around to tediously exporting everything by hand. Something that when a mailbox gets corrupted (which shouldn’t happen to begin with) doesn’t also take down your other mailboxes, calendar and contacts with it.

Words do no justice to the amount of hate I have for Entourage and the administration headaches it has caused me.

Gideon

Well, nevermind..

Pages ’08 is doing a bang-up job doing most the things I need it to do, in a much more user friendly way than the last version.

I’ve only played with it a few minutes now, but I’m very enthusiasitic about it as a replacement for Office.

I don’t give a fig about exchange or vba myself (though I certainly understand the real need) so for me this works perfectly. Sure, I’d like a more sophisticated Mail/PIM but… eh, so it goes.

PSGInfinity

Thanks for the offer, Nadyne; I’ll likely cross-post. :)

1) Entourage needs to be able to fully sync w/Exchange (tasks, notes)
2) PowerPoint needs the “Package as CD” feature, with an extra twist: please include a optional WMP-compatible QT plugin.
3) Speed. Stability.

Billy Halsey

What I’d most like to see (besides Universal binaries) is a completely Cocoa implementation, no more Microsoft-specific font handling, etc. The Unicode support in Office 2004 is appalling, and I can’t even use Apple Symbol as a font. What gives?

As for other features, I think Office is rounding that point where anything else is mostly overkill. It’s mature, it’s (*laugh*) stable (*snort*), and any other “features” will just be unnecessary eyecandy and/or bloat that introduces new bugs. So, yeah, maybe a few software companies here and there are letting bugs slip by so they have something to do in a future release. Solve all the problems, and there’s no job for problem-solvers.

Math

Hi,

As I spend a lot of time in web developpment, i’d like that office 2008 comes with Internet Explorer 7…. It’s not that I want to make it my browser (I prefer Firefox) but I’m tired of debugging what does work on Firefox and what doesn’t work on IE. Moreover this debugging, I must do it at work in a WinSHIT OS..
Sorry for my english > I’m from France so.. Have all a nice dayMath

Gideon

Unfortunately, Office is like the Mac of the document world. What do I mean? It just works, and it works well. It’s also more aesthetically pleasing..

But beyond that, having used Office 2007 most of last year and found it to be an incredibly pleasant experience (even in beta) and then coming to Mac and finding Office 2004 works like crap on my Intel mac and there are no serious contenders for ease of use and power (sorry, neither NeoOffice nor OpenOffice are nearly as sophisticated or easy to use when working on large, complex documents.)

Pages can do some wonderful work when you’re doing something very specific, but not so much when you’re doing something that complex. Nisus Writer can’t even create real doc format files (just try to use one on an iPhone).

So, I may change. But personally I’m not thrilled about waiting longer. Maybe the new OpenOffice Aqua will be nice, maybe not. But right now I’m not convinced that the Open guys have committed to any sort of strong UI.

Dan

From what I’ve seen so far since January it looks like the basic layout of the software is going in the right direction (one window interfaces, less floating boxes), although I think My Day could probably be reduced to a menu bar app.

I’m highly anticipating an Entourage revamp. It’d be great to have tasks synced with Exchange, for instance.

Steven

The only thing I can think of to encourage an upgrade is the ability to export Powerpoint presentations to PC format that don not need tweaking. If they do that, OR if Keynote had a real PC player, I wouldn’t need to touch PC software of any kind.

Ryan

@Chris

I plug OpenOffice almost every chance I get. Although I don’t personally use it since I don’t do that much documentin’, I have used it in the past and liked it a lot.

Most people just don’t know about it, or really understand it. They see MS Office as the standard, and this OpenOffice stuff as secondhand.

Though, if I were to put it on their PC (or Mac) they would never notice.

Chris Fields

I’m curious what MS Office features compel users to stick with using it over alternatives such as OpenOffice?

For instance, OpenOffice is expected to have a decently working Aqua port by the time Office 2008 comes out (maybe even a full non-beta release); beta releases are already currently available. And, as mentioned above, VB support will be removed in Office 2008.

Ryan

Got me a copy of Office 2007 Enterprise for $25 from a special offer from my employer, a $700 value.

Went straight to eBay! Hurray!

I use my Windows box for a lot of things alongside my MacBook, but I hate Office. Especially Excel. Blarr.

Just too much going on, and you can never find the formatting you need.

Louis Gray

@Nadyne, your feedback is absolutely appreciated. I hope The Apple Blog community can contribute some good suggestions for you and the team, so your presence here is welcomed. Thanks for the note on Office 2004 compatibility. What about us Version X holdouts?

Craig

I’d love to dump MS office, but no-one has successfully created an alternative that will deal with complex .doc files in the same way so I’m stuck. And the change to .docx means an upgrade is inevitable someday. Bah.

Nadyne Mielke

Office 2004 will be able to read the new file formats as well. There’s a beta of the file format converters out now (for .docx and .pptx files, with support for .xlsx files coming), and we’ll update Office 2004 after Office 2008 is released so that the support will be native.

One great way to get feedback to us is by using our product feedback website:
http://www.microsoft.com/mac/default.aspx?pid=feedback

I’m not trying to stop the conversation here. :) I just want to say that you can send us feedback directly instead of hoping that we read (and remember, when planning time comes around again) the comments here.

Barry

How about less useless features, more stability and HIG compliance?

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