Office 2007 – stay away

Well you’ve seen me grizzle about Microsoft before now, and in particular Office 2007 including a debate with Joshua Gans on the subject. Well I’ve now taken the extra-ordinary step of uninstalling Word 2007. It was better than Word 2003 in lots of small ways, but the ribbon was a complete nightmare. I want to be able to pull down menus and see a whole bunch of words that help me work out where infrequently accessed commands are. The ribbon is a complete disaster for me for reasons I explained in the post linked above. Of course I accept that some people love it. But I’m outta here.

I find it completely extra-ordinary that Microsoft would make an upgrade and remove the option of using it with essentially the same interface as the program it’s upgrading. There is one other way in which Word 2007 is worse than Word 2003 – which was, incredibly enough in it’s own turn worse than Word 97. That’s the handling of images. Lots of people can’t stand the way that images float around in Word. In Word 97 it wasn’t much of a problem because in most settings (but mysteriously not all) you could tick a little radio box and instruct the image to anchor to a specific spot in the text to stop it floating around. That was quite a bit harder in Word 2003 and harder again in Word 2007.

I found myself in Open Office on the weekend resetting a piece with lots of illustrations in it. It allowed me to anchor graphics fairly easily – it took a few moments to figure out and when I figured it out it worked better than Word 97. Looks like I’ll end up in Open Office, but I’ve got a few thousand pairs of words that ‘auto-correct’ in Word and I don’t know how to easily get Open Office to import the pairs (though it too has an auto-correct facility which actually looks quite a bit better than the Word one.) It’s certainly more primitive than Word at this stage, but it already has quite a few features that Word doesn’t have – like auto-completion of words – which requires a lot more work – I turned it off! The magic of open source will see Open Office picking up a bunch of little ‘killer features’ and as I quoted someone else saying in an earlier post “One of the greatest things about WordPress [and this is true of all popular open source programs like Firefox and I’m hoping increasingly true of Open Office] has always been the amazing number of high-quality plugins available for the platform. I believe that there arent any more killer features in software, there are 10,000 killer features and everyone has a different 20.”

I’m also going back to Powerpoint 2003 or perhaps 97 as these programs have slightly fewer features but they’re simpler to understand and operate, and I don’t do Powerpoint slides often enough to become an expert user.

Outlook 2007 is massively worse with large files than its predecessors. It takes me 15 minutes to download my morning emails – 20 odd emails and 300 odd spam emails – during which time the computer is very slow as it indexes the incoming emails (I’m guessing that’s what it’s doing). The upside – for which I’m sticking with Outlook 2007 is that once this is over it is much faster at searching emails – which is very very handy.

Since I’m now already using Google Calendar – a bit clumsier than Outlook Calendar but pretty good and ubiquitous – enabling me to get remote assistance with appointments I don’t think it will be too long before I kiss Microsoft goodbye for all applications.
From what I’ve heard of Vista, perhaps the next time I buy a new laptop it might be the time to switch to Apple or Linux.

That’s an incredible achievement for a company that I was (reluctantly) prepared to give my business to if only it didn’t force me to go to all that effort of learning new programs.

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harry clarke
14 years ago

I upgraded to Office 07 and the main problem was that most of my colleagues have not – I have to save documents exchanged in old formats. The lack of a ribbon in Word occasionally drives me mad but I am getting used to it.

Mostly it seems to me pretty much the same.

Crispin Bennett
Crispin Bennett
14 years ago

Jacques Chester said:

OpenOffice is not really oriented to plugins. It has a very heavyweight component model of its own devising and a completely custom build system. These are barriers to entry to casual plugin designers.

OTOH, there’s growing interest in looping OpenOffice into various workflow processes, notably for academic writing. Zotero (the Endnote killer) has an OO plugin; it’s usable if basic as yet, but is under very active development. And USQ’s ICE is a very promising attempt to build OO into a system for building single-source, multiple-output documents in an academic setting.

In comparison, Word seems to be going nowhere. Even its new citation support is amazingly half-baked.

Crispin Bennett
Crispin Bennett
14 years ago

The reason I mention ICE and Zotero specifically, is that they’re both uni-funded and seem likely to be around for a while. Both also integrate directly with OO (ICE, slightly oddly, uses a running instance of OO Writer as a server to produce output).

Zotero is a knockout app. It’s entirely usable as-is (I have over 1000 refs in it: searchable, tagged, with all support material like pdfs and notes stored alongside each item. But it also has masses of potential, especially for the server-side stuff.

I’m experimenting writing in ICE/OO + Zotero rather than my usual LaTeX, for a number of reasons, and am pleased so far with the results.

Crispin Bennett
Crispin Bennett
14 years ago

I see. Sounds a bit like .NET remoting (which I used when I was a programmer) which was fairly heavyweight on the boilerplate connection stuff.

Fortunately, as a happy user (and ex-programmer), I don’t have to worry, as USQ have done all the work, and ICE does its job nicely.

Crispin Bennett
Crispin Bennett
14 years ago

I’m back at Uni as a (distinctly) “mature aged” student, studying psychology.


[…] Nick Gruen continues to suffer with changing to Office 2007. I am still not sure what his problem is, I continue to love it. What is more, Microsoft have just launched the preview site for Office 2008 for the Mac. It looks like it will be their best ever. Once that is there, my migration to the Mac will be complete. […]