Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac

Jan 21, 2008

entourage.jpgWas quite a big disappointment, actually. Entourage is probably the biggest joke in modern Software history - it looks like something from the dark dungeons of windows 3.11, mac os 7 and some wicked Microsoft fantasy about Apple not being able to make good UI design, so MS had to reinvent alot of wheels. Well, not a very good move in my point of view.

Okay, so Entourage was probably not what you where looking for either. Apple Mail is great. And let’s face it - Word and Excel is what keeps Office alive.

Common to all Office 2008 applications:

  • Lack of text cursor while typing (what where they thinking?!)
  • Veeeerrryyy slow blinking non-system text cursor.
  • Does NOT use the system-wide user-customizable dictionary and spell checking, which all other OS X applications use. That means when you teach the dict. a new word, it will only be recorded for either all applications except Office, or only Office.
  • Alot of slow and graphically heavy user interfaces. (like slowly animated zooming-in-sliding-serial template icons in Word)
  • Most of the preferences (and in my opinion, the most important ones) are stored in a non-standard location in a proprietary binary format, unreadable by the user.
  • Microsoft-designed graphics (including typographic) rendering on Mac OS is a big no, no.
  • UI elements retain functionality and looks of the native Mac OS X (Cocoa) components, but is slower, uglier and buggier. (Why in the world try to reinvent the best wheel on earth when you have a really bad track-record of numerous such attempts)

As mentioned, much of the ui-components resemble the native Cocoa components, but Microsoft has failed (wow, big surprise ;) to make it better. They have even failed to meet the basic standard. For example, they have implemented a tabs-and-subtabs navigation bar, found in many native OS X applications. But well, apparently Microsoft thought Apple has created a badly working such component, so they did what they do best - reinvent the wheel, but really don’t get the details nor understands usability aspect of very slow animations versus instructive and helpful animations.

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Hovering for example “Table of Contents” will initiate an about 400ms long animation which makes the background dark. Office uses toolbars much like all other OS X applications – except Microsoft reinvented them and made it slower and a bit buggy. (you can initiate a click, and before letting go of the mouse, drag away all the way to China if you want, and the crappy “button” will still think you clicked it)

There are not only sad news here, not only bitter thoughts. They and when I say They, I mean Microsoft, has actually managed to make their applications launch faster that the previous version, Office 2004. They have also succeeded in going a few steps towards having a OS X-friendly user interface. As a non-experienced Mac OS user you will actually feel comfortable, comparing to Office 2004.