Microsoft Office 2007 Review

Dale Franks has a detailed, graphically detailed, review of Microsoft Office 2007. He hates it.

I’ve only been using it about a week and haven’t played around with it as much as Dale. Still, there’s no doubt that it truly and completely sucks. I implore you, DO NOT BUY THIS CRAPPY SOFTWARE OR INSTALL IT ON YOUR MACHINE.

If you thought Microsoft’s products, whether Word or FrontPage, did a lousy job of HTML coding before, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. In the past, they merely inserted so much proprietary code that only Internet Explorer could read into documents, making it a royal pain to edit. Now, they’ve fixed it so that you can’t read it in IE, either.

Further, while Office always had so many doo-dads that it would never occur to me to use built in, making it hard to find stuff I used every day, it was at least reasonably intuitive once you’d used it for a while. No longer. That idiotic “ribbon” that has replaced the old style menus makes it a chore to produce even the most basic documents, requiring constant view changes.

I say again: DO NOT BUY THIS CRAPPY SOFTWARE OR INSTALL IT ON YOUR MACHINE.

UPDATE: Dave Schuler hates it, too. Great minds and all that.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

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  1. Archives December 2006 August 2006 June 2006 May 2006 April 2006 March 2006 February 2006 [IMG Outside The Beltway | OTB] Is Office the New Coke? Microsoft Office 2007 Review YouTube, Copyright Law, and Political Speech McNulty Ignored White House Guidance David Hicks Pleads Guilty to Supporting a Terrorist Organization Researchers Develop Battery Powered By Sugar Officers To Be Disciplined Over Tillman Death

  2. Patrick McGuire says:

    Yes, but how do you really feel? LOL

  3. shipmate says:

    I haven’t used any of their products for years. I refuse to. My computer is 100% M$ free!

  4. Dennis says:

    To each his own, but this version is far superior to any version Microsoft has realeased to date. Iv’e used every version of Office,WordPerfect, Star Office and have experienced the Java hell that is Open Office.Office 2007 offers way more functionality than any of these combined. The only thing I have ever had an objection to was the price.

  5. James Joyner says:

    offers way more functionality than any of these combined

    That may well be true. The problem is that few of us need much of that functionality. And they’ve added it at the expense of ease of use. Perhaps I can customize my way around that eventually, but it’s a pain to have to totally retrain myself.

    Further, it’s simply inexplicable to me that Microsoft sucks so much at HTML. All the extraneous code they put in for no apparent reason is nonsense.

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    It’s not that they suck, James. It’s that Microsoft’s business model requires them to dominate the software development market (including web development) completely.

  7. James Joyner says:

    It’s that Microsoft’s business model requires them to dominate the software development market (including web development) completely.

    Sure. But they could at least do it competently! The end product ought to be identical in printed form and all the standard browsers.

    I had a hell of a time after doing a minor update to my online publications list. I finally more-or-less fixed it by creating various styles and taking out some of the manual coding I had done. In the long run, that’s likely a good thing. It totally sucked in the short term, though.

  8. Anderson says:

    WordPerfect, people, WordPerfect.

    I shun Word.

  9. Dave Schuler says:

    They don’t want it to be identical. They want only their proprietary stuff out there.

    It would be nice, however, if in a 100% Microsoft environment running on completely Microsoft certified hardware, you didn’t run into bizarre problems. Unfortunately, the Microsoft software environment has reached a level of complexity such that it will never be problem free. Or even close.

  10. James Joyner says:

    the Microsoft software environment has reached a level of complexity such that it will never be problem free

    I suspect you’re right. They do offer the option to save documents in a stripped down format, which helps somewhat. Still, it’s mighty aggravating.

    I’m amazed that Dale composes posts in Word and then posts on his blog. I’ve found that to be far, far more trouble then it’s worth.

  11. Triumph says:

    Dennis, I’m curious as to why you don’t like OpenOffice?

    I’ve taken to using it as my default editor. When I send people a document and they say that Word won’t read it, I give them the link to download it and they usually are glad to know about a free and functional program.

    The only advanced feature I use on MS Word that Open Office doesn’t come close to is the “Comment” feature. I havent seen the new MS Office yet, but i old versions it is far superior to Oo.

    Abiword has come along way, as well.

  12. Mark says:

    WordPerfect, people, WordPerfect.

    I shun Word.

    My company does not shun it. And when the inevitable happens and they begin rolling out Office 2007 to us, then I’ll have to learn to deal with it…

  13. Caliban Darklock says:

    I agree with Dennis, but I also work at Microsoft. So nobody listens to me.

    I had mixed feelings about Office 2007 when I first used it, but I rapidly found it to be an excellent upgrade. I do, however, see that if you’ve been spending most of your day using Office… you’re suddenly expected to spend most of your day in this entirely new world where nothing is where you expect. And that’s tough.

    I’d suggest you give it more time. YMMV.

  14. Mark says:

    Expression Web has replaced Front Page as Microsoft’s website builder. It produces very clean HTML.

  15. Anderson says:

    For some reason, law offices in my part of the South seem to all use WordPerfect. Lucky for me.

  16. Mark says:

    The new UI is not bad, it’s just different. After a few weeks I can easily find almost everything I need.

    If you don’t like the ribbon, you can hide it. Add the commands you use frequently to the Quick Access Toolbar and you won’t have to deal with the ribbon.

    The new XML-based file format has a number of advantages since it makes it much easier to inter-operate with other software (i.e. third parties can more easily read/modify/write the file format now). Poor Microsoft can’t win – they use a new more open and standards compliant file format and everyone still complains 😉

  17. legion says:

    Sure. But they could at least do it competently!

    Ah, but James, once they dominate the field, they no longer _have_ to do it competently. That’s the problem with a functional monopoly; they can literally do anything they want without taking the actual consumer’s interests into thought at all.

    I wonder though if they aren’t killing (or at least molesting) the goose that lays the golden egg on this one… if it’s really that big a change, many businesses may balk at the time & productivity loss of having _every single worker_ spend weeks re-learning how to efficiently do even the most basic tasks.

  18. Dave Schuler says:

    I wonder though if they aren’t killing (or at least molesting) the goose that lays the golden egg on this one… if it’s really that big a change, many businesses may balk at the time & productivity loss of having _every single worker_ spend weeks re-learning how to efficiently do even the most basic tasks.

    Yes, legion, that’s one of the points of my post above. Unfortunately, most users are sheep. What needs to happen is that corporate customers need to standardize on the CUA/SAA interface rather than on Microsoft products, buyers need to specify versions of Office no later than Office XP, end users need to request versions of Office no later than Office XP from their vendors, and end users who buy shrink-wrapped should avoid versions later than Office XP.

    That’s too much trouble so everybody will end up eating the costs of conversion and training.

  19. Jayson Billington says:

    Heavy users of older versions will have a learning curve. However there has been a lot of research done and the new version is a big improvement. Something like 90% of the features users wish Office had already existed in previous versions, they just couldn’t find them in the antiquated and awful Menu/Toolbar paradigm that crippled Office in the past.

    Not everything new is bad. Many an established writer was intimidated and hated computers in favor of their trusted typewriters when they were introduced but once they got over their fears and biases and gave the new device a shot they agreed it was a worthwhile advance and would never go back. The same thing applies w/Office 2007.

  20. Jayson Billington says:

    I wonder though if they aren’t killing (or at least molesting) the goose that lays the golden egg on this one… if it’s really that big a change, many businesses may balk at the time & productivity loss of having _every single worker_ spend weeks re-learning how to efficiently do even the most basic tasks.

    If any worker needs weeks to re-learn how to effeciently work w/the new Office I’d argue that the company should replace them as they aren’t very bright. The new interface is a big change and people will have to get used to it but learning how to do the basics is something that can easily be picked up in a couple of days of usage. The new interface is much more intuitive than the antiquated menu/toolbar structure we’ve been stuck w/because people are scared to death of change.

  21. Mark says:

    many businesses may balk at the time & productivity loss of having _every single worker_ spend weeks re-learning how to efficiently do even the most basic tasks

    If the current tools meet their needs, they can stick with them for years to come. Older versions of Office have viewers and converters for the new file formats.

    Anyway, I’m sure MS is aware of this. They analyze every single key stroke and mouse click that Office users need to make to accomplish a task. Every change MS makes to the UI gets multiplied by the millions of users into billions of key strokes in their analysis.

    There is always a learning curve with new stuff. I am happier now with the available productivity apps than I was in the days of Volkswriter on the PC and vi on Unix. Progress happens and people always complain about the changes because they are frustrating at first (I am including myself in the complainers, but we all get over it).

  22. Dave Schuler says:

    Do you have the feeling that there are some Microsoft sock puppets in this comment thread?

  23. James Joyner says:

    Do you have the feeling that there are some Microsoft sock puppets in this comment thread?

    That occurred to me as well. I would have deleted them as a matter of course but they’re at least clever enough not to have left the same comments under the same name on a bunch of blogs today.

  24. dustbury.com says:

    An “upgrade,” they call it…

    “Who wouldn’t want to spend 10 or 12 hours of valuable programming time, just to do the same interface customization you could do in 20 minutes in those older, obsolete versions of [Microsoft] Office?” Anyone? (Via James Joyner. I presume……

  25. Jayson Billington says:

    James and Dave it’s not sock puppetry. What has bothered me about Microsoft for years (especially as it relates to Windows) is that they have been so focussed on backwards compatibility and keeping things comfortable for long time users that innovation is not a focus. For once they’ve taken a chance and as a result the vast majority of the millions of Office 2007 users are better off for it.

    The ribbon interface is extensible so maybe some enterprising third party developer will create a customizable ribbon panel that can be filled w/a menu and toolbars for users who fear change.

  26. graywolf says:

    As a recently retired software developer (high speed, high volume securities processing/trading systems, not dumb little web sites), I can attest to the completely amatuerish bullshit that MS passes off – especially the pathetic masquerade of an O/S – WINDOWS.

    When my spysweeper and anti-virus subscriptions expire, I’m going to Apple.

  27. lunacy says:

    We recently upgraded to the New Word. It took me a day or two to get with the program, but once I made my quick access bar I was fine.

    The first question I asked myself when reading James’ initial post was…”Who would use word to build web?”

    I use DreamWeaver and those people who use word and pass me a page to publish are the bane of my existence. Word virtually pukes on every web thing it touches.

    I’ve also used openoffice and have no problem with it, but unfortunately our company is married to access databases and so I must assimilate.

    Honestly though, once I played with the new interface I got used to it pretty quickly.

    At home I’m 100% Mac, so I’m certainly not biased toward MicroSucks.

    I just don’t hate the new Word as much as I thought I would.

    Lunacy

  28. B. Minich says:

    See, I like it. When I used the beta, I thought it was much better than the last version of word. The ribbon is, I think, much better than the way they were running Office before. But again, to each his own. My advice is INSTALL THIS IMMEDIATELY.

  29. Dale Franks says:

    The ribbon interface is extensible so maybe some enterprising third party developer will create a customizable ribbon panel that can be filled w/a menu and toolbars for users who fear change.

    Perhaps, but why do developers need to do this? Previous versions allowed users to do this by recording macros and customizing the toolbars. Why all of the sudden do we now need programmers to create add-ins to replicate the customization that knowledgeable users could do in minutes with the previous versions?

    That’s my problem with the new interface.

  30. Mark says:

    Do you have the feeling that there are some Microsoft sock puppets in this comment thread?

    I do software development in both Java and .NET and am not affiliated with MS (although most of my work these days is in .NET).

    I thought Jayson and I made several concrete points with only a small amount of snark added for fun.

    The article you link to by Dale Franks made very good points, but his issues were directed at customizers, not regular users.

    James and Steve were just demonstrating the old adage “learning is hard but knowing is easy” without really giving any concrete evidence that the new Office UI is inferior to the old.

  31. Mark says:

    Perhaps, but why do developers need to do this? Previous versions allowed users to do this by recording macros and customizing the toolbars.

    This is a very good point.

    It makes an interesting contrast with the way MS designs their programming APIs. There, they say they try to make the common things easy but still make the complex things possible.

  32. Dennis says:

    “Dennis, I’m curious as to why you don’t like OpenOffice?”
    Its free and it is open source.

  33. David Fleck says:

    One of the things I really appreciate about being a computer programmer guy is that I almost never, ever, have to write anything using a word processor.

    Thank ${deity} for vi!