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Mac Users Left Out of the Microsoft Office 2010 Launch Party

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Sometimes I feel like Microsoft (s msft) keeps the Mac (s aapl) 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 (s goog) 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 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.

34 Responses to “Mac Users Left Out of the Microsoft Office 2010 Launch Party”

  1. Mac User

    I don’t understand Microsoft they should just get on and build software no matter which bit of hardware you buy to stick it on, instead they seem to be jumping in the middle and getting involved in hardware wars that really have nothing to do with them….

    • @Mac User.. wtf? You do understand that Windows and Unix (and its variants, including OS X) are about as different as operating systems come, and that a lot of effort is involved in altering software to run properly within that environment? And you expect MS to release Windows and Mac versions at the same time?? Also there’s this thing called market share.. and Mac still doesn’t have the majority of it I’m afraid.

  2. Hmm! It’s sound quite interesting. But for me I’m not max user though. But when I read your article it was quite interesting I can say. It’s quite new knowledge for me. Nice post though Please keep up a good work. All the best.

  3. I am a Word Power User. I have written over a thousand macros, forms, and modules over the years. I find that MS has purposefully emasculated the Mac version and spoke with several people at MS that confirmed it in the past, especially back in the Word 6 days. At one point the Mac version briefly worked faster than the Windows, but Gates stopped that.

    I have found VBA to be unstable on Office 2001 and 2004, and have bought several titanium laptops just to allow me to continue to run 2001 – the VBA iteration I like better. Some VBA functions just do not work as they are supposed to and I have had to write applescript patches for both versions.

    I find it hard to forgive MS for dropping VBA in the prior version. I do admit that they tried to drop it for the Windows version as well, but with a shift to .Net and WERE NOT ALLOWED TOO. The uproar was great on the Windows side and unfortunately too mild for them to take it seriously on the Mac side until their market share dropped and people started avoiding macros to maintain cross platform compatibility.

    I WILL NOT BUY ANOTHER MS PRODUCT UNTIL A WORKING VBA FOR MAC PRODUCT IS AVAILABLE. I have emailed the Mac BU in the past and offered to be a beta tester.

    Applescript is not designed to handle strings, text, and formatting like VBA can. Filemaker Pro would be a better choice, but I just don’t have the energy to switch all of my documents to a new platform, though it would be the best long term approach. I am ornery and do not hanker towards bending over and using the windows version, which I would not be able to patch with Applescript.

  4. First off, I love my Mac. At work, however, I use a PC with Office 2003. I’m not a fan of the new Office 2007 or 2008 or whatever it is for PC. I hate that my menus are gone in it, and within 5 minutes of trying to make a graph (granted, one with quite a bit of customization) in that version of Excel, I was cussing out my computer. I spent about another 10 minutes trying to figure out how to get my standard menus back before giving up and going back to 2003. I’ve always thought the PC version of Office was superior to the Mac versions, which, in my opinion, is just one more way that MS is screwing over Mac users.

    For all of you who have wondered what Office does that iWork doesn’t, I can’t tell you that since I honestly haven’t used the iWork products since they stopped coming free with new Macs (so, at least 5 years ago, if not more). Back then, I found they were lacking functionality I was used to from Office, but maybe that has changed. I’m a huge Excel user; I probably use it for at least 2 hours a day at work, if not more. I know I would not want to upgrade from Mac Office 2004 to 2008, as it no longer has VBA support, which I often utilize. There are a number of other things that also translate to less feasible cross-platform sharing of documents between Mac Office 2008 and the PC versions.

    I personally am curious if iWork has the functionality I use on a daily basis. I would assume there’s no VBA support, but does Numbers (and the other iWork apps, for that matter) have any capability to automate tasks with some other language, say, AppleScript or better yet, C something, Java, etc.? (not that that does me any good if it’s a document that needs to be cross-platform) How about pivot tables, trend lines for graphs, statistical analysis add-ins, anything like Solver. And, does Pages have automatic tables of contents like Word does, and the other auto-text features available in Word? These are the big things that I’d be looking for in iWork before considering making the switch from Office.

  5. Kimberley

    Hey all you Office for Mac users, here’s a novice’s question for you: My MacBook Pro currently has Office 2004 on it. Do you recommend (or not) going to Office 2008? I’m clueless. Advice welcomed gratefully. –K.

    • This reply probably comes far too late, but anyhow….

      Whether or not you should upgrade to Office 2008 depends on a couple of things. If you use third party apps such as MathType for equations or EndNote for reference and bibliography management, then I would say don’t upgrade. The lack of VBA support in Office 2008 has severely limited the functionality of many third party applications.

      If you are looking for a speed improvement, then you will likely find a small improvement in office 2008 since it does not require Rosetta. However, the speed gains have been pretty slight from my experience. I have both 2004 and 2008 installed on my computers and I quite often opt for 2004.

  6. Meghann

    I totally disagree with the comments saying that MS Office is superior to iWork. I don’t understand what iWork doesn’t have, that Office does. One of the major things I’ve noticed is this: if you create a document or presentation using Word/Publisher/Powerpoint, one look and it is undeniably Microsoft Office. People see it and they recognize instantly. Products of iWork are so much more professional looking, and what you get instead is people (most likely PCs) asking how you have done it. The templates make it so easy and quick to use and even though, yes, you get some pretty animations, you also get all of the tools you need to create a professional looking piece of work.

  7. I’ve been using Office for a great many years and I think that the 2008 edition for mac is right now by far the best package money can buy on any platform. This will change with the 2010, but hopefully the mac unit at MS will do it again. Sure Apple is trying very, very, very hard with iWork, but it’s just so far behind that I don’t see any way of it ever catching up, instead of real features, what we get is fireworks and pretty animations… all I can say is that sometimes when I start an Apple program I have to choose between feeling like a complete idiot, or like a 3 year old, neither of which is entertaining.

  8. Actually, Office Web apps will be fully-contained web apps, just as Google Docs are. Further, Microsoft has made it clear they’ll function in IE, Firefox, and Safari (probably Chrome, too, though it wasn’t mentioned).

    Frankly, once available I’d use Office Web before I’d use Google Docs, though at present I use no web apps for docs. I use iWork and simply let MobileMe keep everything synced. Best of both worlds (desktop and cloud) if you ask me.

  9. Oh give me a freaking break apple blog… /sigh

    Apple exists today because of its elitist marketing at the expense of Microsoft. They’ve made an empire out of mocking them.

    Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. I don’t blame MS…if you want superior office/work software, buy a PC.

    • Do you mean the mocking in Apple’s TV ads?

      Hasn’t that only been going on for a few years?

      It seems to me that until recent years Apple has never directly antagonized MS in its marketing. They’ve managed to carve out a significant niche for themselves by concentrating mainly on user experience, rather than open extensibility. Both ways seem fine to me.

      There’s more than one kind of person, so there should be more than one kind of computer, eh?

      And by the way I work all day and all night every day on a Mac. Have done so for many years. And I’ve always managed to thrive as a small business owner in a very cut-throat world. So I completely disagree about PC being superior for office/work.

      Different strokes for different folks. No need to get worked up over marketing!

  10. 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!

    • 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)

  11. Kenneth

    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.

    • 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?

    • natsfan7

      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.

  12. 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! :)

  13. stefan.kk

    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).

  14. Patrick

    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.

    • andrew

      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.

  15. andrew

    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.

  16. 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.