Wednesday, January 17, 2007

More thoughts on Office 2007

Just finished reading David Pogue's review of Office 2007 in the New York Times. Covered mostly the same points I did in my earlier post, but there were a few things I didn't know. I hadn't really paid attention to the installation size, which apparently was shrunk big time. The new .docx format is apparently also compact and easier to recover from failures. Score a few more points for MS. I also like the new Calibri font that replaced Times New Roman as the default. It's clean and elegant, though very Mac.

I learned elsewhere why they removed the ability to add custom toolbars. It supposedly was a major customer service headache. People would have custom toolbars in their workplaces and such, and when the toolbars failed, they would call tech support. When someone is pissed that their program isn't working, it can be really hard to convince them that it's not MS's fault, whoever wrote those macros (which can be extremely brittle) needs to fix it. Frustrating for me, but hard to argue with the reasoning from a business standpoint.

A few other gripes for removals that don't seem to be related to bloat that were really useful. It seems that you can't navigate around cells in the new Excel by using the arrow keys. Not sure why they would remove that feature. Also, you can't seem to Ctrl-Shft-arrow to highlight whole words at a time in Word. I used that all the time.

One point Pogue made that is more important that we might think is the change in format. He points out that Microsoft hadn't changed the .doc format in 10 years. Over that time, it has become the de facto standard for just about everything, even though it's a closed, proprietary format. The only thing that comes close is .pdf, and that's for finished documents only. If you type a document in Word, just about anyone else using whatever version of Word can open it. Not so anymore. Do we need to worry more about these formats changing without notice? What happens when years from now and .doc is long dead, no one can open them? All of this seems to point in favor of an open format, whether it's opening up .doc, or it's something like the Open Document Format, which I haven't had any experience with. It'd be ironic if by making this change to improve the format, Microsoft unintentionally made us all reconsider whether we can afford to have them define the document standard.

So still mixed opinion. I have to say that the Inquirer got it right when they titled their pre-release review of the new Word:
Word update will mess with your head


At 11:47 AM, Blogger Kevin said...

Plain text baby! just kidding...


No seriously, I am trying to eliminate my use of documents and instead get everything done using our company wiki... those pages are stored in .rtf and .txt files with a mark-up language.

At 4:32 PM, Blogger Raudel said...

I haven't used it, but I think i might try it out now. i would image there's some XML markup that is an abstraction of the *.docx format. maybe someone could put together an interpreter so you could "convert" *.docx to *.*, but that's gotta be a real pain.

i saw vista on sale at office depot today, so i'm at a crossroads: go Mac, or invest in a copy Vista and stay MS for the next few years.... the inner mac is speaking.

speaking of my inner mac, check out the "LSAT Logic in Everyday Life" podcast. 5 minutes of very logical discussion about illogical conclusions drawn in everyday life.


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