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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Office 2007 Sucks

The Fandos are just starting to crawl out of our moving experience, though we still have about four thousand boxes to unpack, about half of which will contain things we thought we needed but don't and will promptly burn.

In the meantime, as part of my new day job (What, you thought this was it?), I'm having to be exposed to Office 2007.

After just a few minutes with this application, I can authoritatively tell you that it sucks.

All right, I'll give it another chance.

After a few more minutes, let me revise my opinion to "Sucks times infinity."

Office 2007 does the trifecta of poor software design:

1. It alters the very familiar interface in such a way as to make common functions near impossible to find without looking up the details on the Internet. The menus are now tabs* in a big section called the "Ribbon," which does nothing so much as remind me how useless this new version is compared to an electric typewriter. In addition, the tabs/menus are altered so that I can find little of what I need. The line spacing has been unnecessarily complicated, and basic functions, such as Save, Open, etc. have been hidden in an obnoxiously designed little bastard called the "Office Button."**

2. It needlessly takes up gobs of space in the window, limiting the space you have for trivial things like, oh... formatting your spreadsheet, building your presentation, writing vitriolic hate mail to the gits in Redmond who thought this crap interface up... that sort of thing.

3. It provides no option for reverting to the previous layout save uninstalling the whole bloody mess and reinstalling your reliable Office 2003 suite, the one that looks like the other versions and has things where you and 90% of the Earth's population expect them to be. The best you can do is to "minimize" the "Ribbon" so that it resembles the old menu bar, only from some peculiar planet where "Home" makes more sense than "File" for a Menu bar. Even then, once you open the Menus, the "Ribbon" opens again as your only misbegotten option to do anything, provided you can find what you're looking for in all the visual mess.

Sucks times infinity.

There was some geezer in the Toronto Globe and Mail who sort of liked the thing, writing that he was growing tired of the old interface. This is the type of bloke who would grow tired of doorknobs because getting in and out of places is far less important to him than figuring out new and exciting ways of turing the latch. There's a word for such a philosophy: Mental.

As far as I can tell, Office 2007 is a going away present for Bill Gates, as he steps down as Microsoft Chairman. It's a perfect present. It'll sell in the millions and piss off every customer Microsoft has, just the sort of thing every would-be king wants the power to do.

*For some reason, the software industry has a mania for tabs, even though the Windows Taskbar does the same thing better, in that you can organize the windows the way you like. It's maddenly stupid, and I blame Firefox, the originators of this crapulent style. I expect it will wear off, just like the nuclear winter fad. Until then, we're stuck with the ruddy things. I just turn them off in Internet Explorer.

**Until Office 2007 came out, most Microsoft workers thought this was the button on the back of Gates' head that turned his robotic body off for the evening.