or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › Software › Mac Software › Road to Office 2008: installation and interface
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Road to Office 2008: installation and interface

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
It's been four years since Microsoft last updated Office for the Mac. Is the new Office just a mild reheating of the last version, or a complete overhaul and fresh revitalization you desperately need? How Mac-like is it, and conversely, how Offlce-like is it, particularly when compared to its Windows cousin? We've spoke to a source testing the beta release of Office 2008 for Mac to find out. Here's an overview of what you can expect related to installation and its new user interface.

This report goes to great lengths to explore the origins, history, and maturity of software-based office suites and Microsoft Office for the Mac. For those readers with limited time or who are only interested in what's due in Office 2008 for Mac, you can skip to page 2 of this report.

Setting the Stage for Office 2008

The last release of Office for Mac was in 2004. That version offered functional improvements over the earlier Office v.X, the first version natively compatible with Mac OS X, but didn't radically change the overall look and feel of the software suite. It also added some new features unique to the Mac version of Office, creating some divergence from the Windows side and allowing Microsoft to note that Mac Office has features that weren't yet in the Windows port.

Microsoft also includes other applications in Office for Windows that it does not offer for the Mac (including Project and the Access database), and there are features missing in the Mac versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and in particular Entourage, when compared to Office for Windows.

Office 2004 also highlighted the difficult engineering challenges facing the Mac Business Unit at Microsoft. To appeal to Mac users, Office has to adopt enough of the expected behaviors of a Mac application. However, to remain compatible with Windows -- not just in exchanging files but also in the overall look and features -- Office for Mac has to deliver the same direction and strategy of the Windows side.

The more Mac-like Office becomes, the more difficult it can be for corporations to support it, because their information technology managers and trainers have to learn a new environment. However, the more Office-like the product is, the less accessible it will be to home consumers, creative workers, and other users who purposely bought their Mac to benefit from its well integrated, "non-PC" computing environment.

Comparing Mac Office with Office for Windows

Microsoft's last version of Office (below, Word 2003) looked very similar to the Mac version of Office, but used Windows-style widgets and conventions, such as placing the menu bar within the document window along with the tool bars.



On the Mac, Microsoft not only uses the standard menu bar at the top of the screen, but has also followed its own historical convention of floating a toolbar of icons outside of the document window (below, Office 2004), somewhat similar to the tool palette of Photoshop or other classic Mac applications originally designed in the 80s.



In 2005, Microsoft unveiled a radical rethinking of how Office would look (below, a demo of Word as envisioned in 2005). Office windows would get a flat metallic look, and the menu bar itself would change from standard drop down menus into glowing buttons of the new 'Ribbon' interface, presenting a series of graphical icon regions the user could change around as desired. The Ribbon idea was met with criticism and Microsoft was forced to change the name to the Fluent UI.



The idea behind the Fluent/Ribbon is to present lots of dense information at once. This concept is similar to a previous Microsoft innovation of dropping items from menu bars in Windows XP so users only see the selections they frequently use. The problem is that shifting information around breaks the muscle memory for recalling where items are. In the case of the Fluent Ribbon, the menus are gone entirely, and presented instead as a series of new collections of buttons to learn. Users proficient in Office wouldn't find the new version any more familiar than WordPerfect or Apple's Pages.

This January, Microsoft finally released Office 2007 for Windows (below, Word 2007 aka 12), in conjunction with the new Windows Vista. The Fluent/Ribbon remained intact, but was joined by a mini toolbar at the top for save and other items, connected to the round Office button designed to reinforce the marketing language of the similarly round Windows logo button that replaces the Start button in Vista. The overall look and feel reflects Microsoft's Vista Aero, with lots of bright, undulating gradients and an extensive use of translucency and glowing shadows in window borders and controls.



Delivering that same look on the Mac would not be acceptable at all. Office 2007's Fluent/Ribbon redefines the menu bar as a fusion of tool bar icons and other presentation, completely destroying the entire concept of unified human interface guidelines. Applications on the Mac don't choose whether to present their menus as menus or as a graphical ribbon, and Mac users don't skin every app to use its own faddish UI of the moment as Windows Media Player does with each release.

While Microsoft gets a lot of flack for copying ideas from elsewhere, it's far better to copy good ideas than to invent bad ideas. The entire premise of a productivity application is to make users productive, not to entertain them.

While the new look of Office 2007 matches Vista and creates a strong brand for Microsoft applications in 2007, it is not designed to translate cross platform; in fact, it was primarily designed to thwart the open source office clones such as Sun's OpenOffice.org. That left the MacBU scrambling to figure out how to deliver a new Office on the Mac.

The New Mac UI

While Microsoft introduced dramatic changes to the look of Office this year, Apple has also significantly evolved the look of Mac applications over the last four years since the days of Mac OS X 10.3 Panther and Office 2004. Apple's bundled applications in Mac OS X followed and expanded upon the Aqua human interface guidelines, sometimes breaking them to try new things. Mail 2.0's bubble Toolbar icons in Mac OS X 10.2 Tiger were roundly criticized for looking different, but Mail, like all other standard Mac OS X apps, still uses the same user customizable Toolbar.

Users can select between icons with text labels, just icons, or just text, and can pick between a large or small icon size. Customizing the Toolbar always means dropping down a sheet of icons that can be dragged and dropped into the Toolbar (below, Pages 08). Apps are also supposed to hide the Toolbar by clicking the pill icon in the top right corner.



Some applications lack a Toolbar altogether, such as TextEdit, iPhoto, or iTunes, and others present a custom Toolbar style; Safari uses a compact Toolbar that doesn't provide text labels for its few buttons, for example, but users still customize the Safari Toolbar the same way as they would Mail, iWork apps, Preview, or any other app with a Toolbar.

A second major Mac convention among productivity applications is the panel, which is common among applications with a NeXT heritage. Apple defined a standard Color Picker panel and Font selection panel, and then began using a standard Inspector panel (below) that works very similarly between Keynote, Pages, iWeb, and Numbers. Apple also presents a standard Media Panel for selecting from audio, photos, and movies stored within the libraries of iTunes, GarageBand, Photo Booth, iPhoto, and iMovie.



Using the same panel in every application reinforces the simplicity of how applications work, at the expense of limiting how differentiated an application can be. The existing Word 2004 does not use the standard Color, Font, or Media panels. Instead, it presents a strangely modal Color window, its own unique Font Formatting Palette with fewer features (below, next to the standard Mac Fonts panel), and no media selection interface at all. Its use of floating toolbars is also an oddly foreign interface idea for Mac OS X.



On page 2 of 3: The MacBU Middle Ground; and Office 2008 Window Toolbars and Controls.

The MacBU Middle Ground

The challenge to the MacBU was to fit Office 2008 into the modern Mac desktop while incorporating as much similarity with Office for Windows as possible, all while Apple and Microsoft are both working to differentiate themselves in different directions: Apple with simplicity that builds on what users already know, and Microsoft with a complex and flashy information overload that aspires to be completely different in each release.

Previous versions of Mac Office catered to the demand for simplicity on the Mac side with drag and drop installation. After you drag the Office 2004 folder into Applications and launch an app, it would run through an initial mini install which copied in Microsoft fonts and other required support files. In Office 2008, this is all gone. It now requires a full standard install. In comparison, while many simple Mac apps support drag and drop installation, even Apple's iLife and iWork suites run through a standard install process.

The standard installer (below) offers customization for excluding specific apps, Office Fonts (which includes the fonts Microsoft commissioned for Vista), and Automator Actions (which are only available if you opt to pay the $150 premium for the Standard Edition over Basic).



After installing Office 2008, Microsoft recommends you uninstall previous versions, and offers to find and remove earlier versions automatically.



However, the current beta installer couldn't find a previous version of Office 2004, despite it being in the usual location on the drive. (Obviously, this will be fixed in the shipping version.)





Once finished with the installation (below), it kicks off a secondary Setup Assistant process.



The Setup Assistant (below) offers to import settings from your previous version, which seems like a bit of a puzzle given that the installation process earlier attempted to find and delete any existing versions. Fortunately, the installer couldn't find what was under its nose, so the previous version remained around long enough to allow the new version to import what it needed. In our source's case, it identified two previous versions of Microsoft Identities (mail settings) and asked which should be imported.



Setup step two is the recommended but optional choice (below) of sending your hardware information to Microsoft along with reports of "how you use Microsoft software and services." This is not enabled by default.



And finally a Get Started page (below) where you can review what's new, register, and check for updates.



Office 2008 Window Toolbars and Controls

The new Word (below top) shows off the MacBU's compromise between delivering a fairly standard Mac Toolbar appearance on top, along with a Ribbon-like band called the Element Gallery, which mixes in the bright blue gradients and interface density of Vista while also incorporating Mac interface elements such as the Safari-like rounded buttons and the page navigation controls.

The new interface also adopts the template-centric design of Apple's iWork applications, except that rather than starting with a template, you select individual pages to fill specific components of your document using template pages, such as a cover page, a table of contents, or bibliography page.



The toolbars used in Office aren't the standard Mac OS X Toolbar; they don't offer to resize icons, you can't just display text labels, and they aren't configured using drag and drop sheets like standard Mac Toolbars as noted above. Instead, the Mac Toolbar is really a replica of the standard Office toolbar, which allows you to select between and customize the rows and rows of familiar icons (below).



You can also choose to display the toolbars as floaters, as was the default in Office 2004 (below), although this only works for additional toolbars and not the Standard home row toolbar, which is permanently affixed to the window. The toolbars make more sense attached to the window, as is the new default.



Using Office style toolbars also means that configuration of the toolbars is done using the same unusual interface as previous versions (below), a kluge of an Access-inspired window. It is nothing like the standard Mac Toolbar sheet with drag and drop icons, in part because Microsoft offers twelve standard toolbars of icons (the above window graphic only displays four of them), and users can remix their own custom toolbars on top of that.

There's simply not room in a graphical selection sheet for all those icons, but whoever uses more than 10 percent of them?



Of course, Office fans who bought the program because they want this type of complex customizability might prefer this familiarity in Office 2008. However, this is now missing on the Windows side, so it is headed toward being entirely obsolete; Office 2007 for Windows uses an entirely new Fluent/Ribbon configuration system.

Unless Microsoft repeals the Fluent/Ribbon in the same way it rolled back the new Word 6 menus for irate Word 5 users, the entire concept of rows and rows of toolbar icons is now dead: frozen in time on the Mac, and abandoned for a different presentation on Windows. The MacBU appears to be stuck in the middle: holding onto the old version, either unwilling or unable to implement a regular Mac Toolbar.

The MacBU's solution to this problem appears to be something of a diversion -- the frosted Element Gallery is somewhat like a cool blue icing on top of a burnt cake. If you want to scrape it off, you can deselect the Gallery view using the Toolbar icon. The template section hides to provide a less busy window with an extra inch of content display (below).



However, Microsoft finally fixed the floppy disk icon. Previous versions of Office on both the Mac and Windows depicted the floppy disk with the metal shield backwards from how a real floppy looked, with no hole in the shield and an extra hole in the disk. That wouldn't actually work, of course.

Microsoft's erroneous floppy icon also has no "HD" hole, indicating it only has a 720k capacity and dates from the 80s; it does have a copy protect hole. (The correct but stylized new Mac floppy depicts no holes.) Even this year's Vista version of Office has the same incorrect floppy disk icon. It is amusing that the MacBU fixed this error for Mac users in 2008, ten years after Steve Jobs yanked the floppy out of the iMac and stomped it out of existence.

Even slightly more ironic is the fact that Word 2004 used a Zip drive icon, which at least some PowerMacs prior to the G5 in 2003 offered as an option. Four years later, the MacBU has reverted to the floppy disk, either to atone for Microsoft's decades of error or as a nostalgic nod to saving documents in the era Word originally sprang from.

If you'd rather concentrate on your document contents than the icons, you can also hide the tool bar entirely by clicking on the pill icon (below). Sadly, this doesn't also hide the Gallery menus.



It seems like the MacBU did deliver a simpler, cleaner, more professional, and less menacing looking overall window style compared to Office 2007, but that seems to have more to do with the user interface guidelines of Mac OS X versus Windows Vista. Given the difficult task set in front of it, it is not obvious how the MacBU could have delivered a significantly better overall user interface without simply starting over and using standard Mac window Toolbar.

Doing that would likely have required a massive overhaul to Office for Mac and might have resulted in breaking compatibility with the Windows version, but the Windows version doesn't use the previous Office toolbars anymore either.

As it stands, the Office for Mac interface looks like a cross between Vista and Leopard. The worst part isn't the look, but rather its behavior. While the new Elements Gallery looks nice enough in a screen shot, the interface is hyper-animated in an excessive way.

On page 3 of 3: The Glass Menagerie; Inspector Clouseau; and Worth an Upgrade?

The Glass Menagerie

Mousing over the dentures causes them to slowly glow in a blue light. Selecting a tooth rolls down the Gallery view of templates, but then the buttons animate across the screen and the template items dance into place. Mousing over templates invokes a minor magnify effect. Unlike the Dock, the animation feels artificial and jerky. It conveys the behavior of a website built in Flash, except rather than being wowed by an animated interface you'll only encounter once, you're stuck with the glowing, zooming, bouncing animated behavior on a daily basis.

This doesn't seem appropriate for a word processor and other productivity applications. Fortunately, you can mostly ignore the Vista-inspired Elements Gallery (apart from the dentures), and confine yourself to the Office-style toolbars.

The toolbar icons also animate on rollover, somewhat less subtly than the existing Office 2004, but not in the same manner of the hyperactive Gallery. In order to match the unified look of Leopard, which blends the Toolbar into the window title bar, Office 2008 renders all of the Office toolbars in the same dark aluminum finish, which makes its applications look very dark overall.

That darkness seems particularly out of place next to the Gallery decked out in vividly glowing candy colors and bright white highlights (below). The Gallery menu item's teeth also popup a "tool tip" that repeats what is already being displayed below it:





Inspector Clouseau

AppleInsider's initial installment of its Road to Office 2008 series introduced the look of the new Office Formatting Palette, which now looks more like the inspector panel from iWork. The problem is that while it copies the idea of icons across the top, it choses its own icons and functions, so there is no real commonality with Apple's apps.

It might be obvious why the MacBU didn't follow the design of iWork any closer; on one hand, they don't want to look imitative, and on the other, doing so would require reworking a lot of the historical arrangement of settings in Word.

Here is the new Office 2008 palette, the previous version from Office 2004, and the iWork Inspector from Keynote:



Apart from some new polish, it's the same old Office 2004 Palette; a half dozen rows of settings hiding behind disclosure triangles, and now a series of icons at the top that tack on new features. Some seem smart, like the citation manager window for bibliographies, while others not so much, such as the dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia, and translation sections all stuffed into a single panel. (Mac OS X already has a system wide dictionary, but Microsoft has chosen to use its own.)

The MacBU could have delivered a system wide plugin for Mac OS X's new Dictionary 2.0, then added the Microsoft Encarta encyclopedia. Another section of the Palette is the Scrapbook, which could similarly have been delivered as a Dashboard widget. Instead, it too is buried away inside Office, thus far negating some of the value Microsoft could offer customers.

Even more oddly, the Office Palette flips around like an Dashboard widget for setting its display settings, turning into a modal, translucent black window (below). Flipping the palette in the beta of Office 2008 causes other windows to stutter and redraw, making for a somewhat clumsy effect.



On the flip side, there are settings for configuring what the panel does after a period of inactivity. By default, it rolls up into the icon bar (below). It's an entirely custom built human interface device.



Worth an Upgrade?

It may be that the MacBU can refine certain elements such as the palette to work and act more fluidly over the holidays prior to the mid-January release of Office 2008, but the real issues in Office don't seem like bugs as much as design compromises.

At the same time, there's not many options for replacing Office for Mac. Apple's simpler iWork will appeal to some users, but it doesn't yet deliver all of the features in Microsoft Office. Alternatives such as NeoOffice also have serious weaknesses. The degree of stability Office 2008 attains by January will have a major impact on whether the update gets rated as a buggy mistake or a solid update saddled with a few too many interface features.

Outside of the user interface, Office 2008 also delivers Universal Binary support for Intel Macs, a significant step, albeit a couple years overdue. That alone may be enough for Mac Office users to upgrade in January. So what about the new features of Office? AppleInsider's next article will take a deeper look at Word.
post #2 of 29
When will the next office 2008 beta be out? 5 days until deactivation.
I got nothin'.
Reply
I got nothin'.
Reply
post #3 of 29
Although I do think you make some very valid points, in general I feel that your review comes over as a bit mean-minded. Throughout the piece your comments are couched in a critical style, which I don't feel is entirely justified by the reality of what I have seen of Office 2008. Please try and find something positive to say in the next article in the series to balance this up! I hasten to say that I have no connection whatsoever to Microsoft and dislike them intensely as a company. But I do think it is always very important to maintain a degree of measure.

Points I would like to make/reinforce:

1. The gallery - the main reason I dislike this is that it drastically reduces the screen real estate available for editing the material being produced, which surely should be the primary purpose of any software. It seems like a very programmer-oriented approach to focus more on the UI than on the reason for using it. In this way I think Microsoft have lost sight of what the product is actually for. I like the fact that you can optionally hide the toolbars if you want, so that you can focus on what you're writing - I just hope that between now and release they add the ability to totally hide the gallery as well. In other respects I think the MacBU have done an excellent job of the toolbars and I am sure that this UI has the potential to add to the attraction of the Mac for the many people I know who hate the Office 2007 UI for my reasons and the reasons elucidated in your article.

2. I assume that the reason Apple have shied away from making it possible to use iWork as an Office alternative (in particular, by not providing an option to use Office file formats as defaults) is so that Microsoft don't finally walk away from the Mac, although I don't think this really makes sense as an excuse. Otherwise I don't know why they haven't pursued this approach, as I'm sure I'm not alone in wanting to be able to junk Office altogether. However I can't do this while I have to have both iWork and Office versions of files on my Mac, so I will definitely be buying Office when it comes out, and iWork will sit on my system not being used, irrespective of its (many) merits.

3. I think your point about the floppy icon is likely to cause many people to discount your article because it is just TOO anally retentive. Quite honestly, who cares?

4. Palette - seems OK to me in all respects. I really don't know what you're getting at here!

5. System-wide Dictionary/Thesaurus - I agree entirely. Who wants to have to maintain two totally separate custom dictionaries?
The truth is behind you
Reply
The truth is behind you
Reply
post #4 of 29
A thorough and well written article, but completely irrelevant.

If you own Office today, you will have to upgrade. Not right away, but someday.
Someday you will start receiving documents, spreadsheets and presentations that were created in the Windows version and can only be edited in MS Office. When that magic event occurs, you will have to upgrade.

You will be assimilated.
post #5 of 29
I'm excited for Office 2008. I think it looks fine too.
post #6 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by davebarnes View Post

If you own Office today, you will have to upgrade. Not right away, but someday.

Someday you will start receiving documents, spreadsheets and presentations that were created in the Windows version and can only be edited in MS Office. When that magic event occurs, you will have to upgrade.

Not entirely accurate, but a point nonetheless. I have received documents created in Office 2007 (in the so-called Open Office format, a misnomer if ever there was one), and Pages had no troubles with it. At work however, I have received plenty of Word documents that incorporate forms, which Pages does not support at all.

My primary reason for waiting for Office 2008 is for enhanced Exchange functionality.

Either way, your point about having to upgrade is a sad truth. I have fully switched over to iWork '08 at home, but still have a requirement to use MS Office at work.
post #7 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by davebarnes View Post

A thorough and well written article, but completely irrelevant.

Someday you will start receiving documents, spreadsheets and presentations that were created in the Windows version and can only be edited in MS Office. When that magic event occurs, you will have to upgrade.

Partially agreed. Many of us indeed have to be able to read and deliver Word files. Apart from the lack of some relevant functions in Pages, it's conversion to and fro Word is simply inadequate.

Yet NeoOffice (one of the Mac OpenOffice ports) does a fine job in this respect. Too bad OpenOffice and theire derivates deliver the same crap of a UI as MS does.

So if you don't need many of the Word functions and don't have to exchange files with Office users, go for Pages, else consider NeoOffice as an alternative to MS Office.

.
post #8 of 29

After installing Office 2008, Microsoft recommends you uninstall previous versions, and offers to find and remove earlier versions automatically.

That remove Office "feature" scares me. I've had similar problems with Office 2004. I installed Office 2004 on a new Leopard machine and then tried to use Remove Office to get rid of the demo version that came pre-installed. Afterwards the new Office 2004 would not run and gave me constant error messages. I ended up totally removing it and installing from scratch again.

Either the tool is not quite right or I'm too stupid to use it, however from now on I'll always ditch the old version first and then install the new.

Steve
Steve B
MacBook Pro, Powerbook G4, iMac, iPhone
"Life's too short to screw with windows"
Reply
Steve B
MacBook Pro, Powerbook G4, iMac, iPhone
"Life's too short to screw with windows"
Reply
post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by StuBeck View Post

I'm excited for Office 2008. I think it looks fine too.

I might have been 2 years ago, but now I am just resigned to having to buy it.
I just don't see anything in it that is exciting (I admit that I don't use Entourage nor Exchange).
I am also sure that the new interface (after 17+ years of using Word) is just going to drive me bonkers.
post #10 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jingo View Post

Points I would like to make/reinforce:

1. The gallery - In this way I think Microsoft have lost sight of what the product is actually for...

2. I assume that the reason Apple have shied away from making it possible to use iWork as an Office alternative (in particular, by not providing an option to use Office file formats as defaults) is so that Microsoft don't finally walk away from the Mac, although I don't think this really makes sense as an excuse. Otherwise I don't know why they haven't pursued this approach, as I'm sure I'm not alone in wanting to be able to junk Office altogether. However I can't do this while I have to have both iWork and Office versions of files on my Mac, so I will definitely be buying Office when it comes out, and iWork will sit on my system not being used, irrespective of its (many) merits.

3. I think your point about the floppy icon is likely to cause many people to discount your article because it is just TOO anally retentive. Quite honestly, who cares?

1. Microsoft lost sight of what computers are actually for about 10 years ago.

2a. Why would Mac make an Office file format as a default? Does Microsoft make a Mac format as a default? (I don't know if they do, but I suspect they dont, and why should they?)

2b. I have 2000+ documents in xls format on my mac, and I wiped MS Office from my hard disk when I bought iWork 08. I have not missed it. In fact, my Excel docs are easier to work with, and fully compatible with any format in which I choose to save them, be it xls or numbers or otherwise. You should try it.

3. Have you ever seen a Mac Pro ? Name a better looking, slicker computer product on earth. Anal-retentivity is tantamount to Apple's success. It should have rubbed off on you by now. He is poking at it because it's not something you would get from Apple, except that with Apple, we expect that, with Microsoft, you make excuses. For the amount of money we spend, we should stop making excuses and start making demands.
post #11 of 29
Can you finally copy and paste a web page into a document with ALL graphics, and tables, too. IF NOT I DON'T WANT IT!!
Nate
Reply
Nate
Reply
post #12 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by echosonic View Post

2b. I have 2000+ documents in xls format on my mac, and I wiped MS Office from my hard disk when I bought iWork 08. I have not missed it. In fact, my Excel docs are easier to work with, and fully compatible with any format in which I choose to save them, be it xls or numbers or otherwise. You should try it.

This is all well and good provided you don't have any custom functions or (god forbid) Macros in Excel that you need. Not the case on my end.
post #13 of 29
THE ONLY reason i use office is that my workplace forces it down our throat, even though entourage integrates terribly with outlook. i have to work [against my will] in powerpoint constantly and i pray that the UB version will increase the speed of the program on my brand new MacPro to what it is on a 4 year old peeCee. it takes 5 minutes to preview 200 slides in the slide sorter view right now, and often locks up the program. Crap. absolute crap. and stop resizing the font for me to make it fit a text box, and for the love of GOD, give me some keyboard shortcuts for snap to grid, send forward / backward, ohh, and is it too much to ask to have a font look the same in Powerpoint on a Mac as it does on a PC? Embed the f'ers.
post #14 of 29
Am I missing something here, or has Microsoft compromised roughly 1/3 of the entire height of the screen with icons and other bunk?

Apple's toolbar customization has always been the best way. Let ME decide how I will be most productive. I've become accustomed to Microsoft believing they are smarter than the average user.
post #15 of 29
With the replier who commented that this "review" was incredibly mean-spirited, I have to agree. Microsoft has its flaws, but Office:mac is really one of the better products they've put out. Also, all the talk about using an outdated system, definitely disagree there. Ribbon may allow you to be more productive, but I really don't want to learn a whole new system. Give me toolbar hell - at least I know where everything is. If it wasn't for dropping Excel macro support in Office:mac 2008, no question this upcoming version of Office would easily be superior (imo) to the Windows Office 07.

Quote:
Originally Posted by echosonic View Post

2b. I have 2000+ documents in xls format on my mac, and I wiped MS Office from my hard disk when I bought iWork 08. I have not missed it. In fact, my Excel docs are easier to work with, and fully compatible with any format in which I choose to save them, be it xls or numbers or otherwise. You should try it.

Congratulations that iWork 08 has met all your needs. As a consumer level product, I don't doubt that iWork would probably be enough for most people out there. But Office is professional level software. Come on... macros, pivot tables, etc... - these are not minor, obscure functions that 99.9% of people will never used as some people claim. Ask anyone who works with numbers for a living. I would even dare to say that Apple's internal finance teams probably use Office or another professional suite, not iWork.

iWork is an elegant, simple to use solution to create really good looking documents, but it simply does not have the power or features to be a heavy-duty productivity suite, and for that "0.01%" of us who do need them, and there are a lot of us, we need Office. I can guarantee to you that of all the hundreds of Excel documents I have on my MBP, only 1 of them might possibly work in Numbers without problem.

And to be clear on this point, I do use iWork regularly. I've owned iWork 06 since I got my Mac and 08 since it launched. Keynote 08 is amazing and it alone was worth the price of the entire suite.
post #16 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by RexTraverse View Post

With the replier who commented that this "review" was incredibly mean-spirited, I have to agree. Microsoft has its flaws, but Office:mac is really one of the better products they've put out. Also, all the talk about using an outdated system, definitely disagree there. Ribbon may allow you to be more productive, but I really don't want to learn a whole new system. Give me toolbar hell - at least I know where everything is. If it wasn't for dropping Excel macro support in Office:mac 2008, no question this upcoming version of Office would easily be superior (imo) to the Windows Office 07.

Then you don't use Office 2007 for Windows. My school upgraded at the end of last year, and let me tell you, as someone that hates M$ products, It is far superior to any version of Office. I actually enjoy using it. The ribbon is absolutely awesome for everything from setting margins (they have quick and easy presets like "moderate" and "narrow" for those). Finding options for sorting data in Excel is quick an easy. It all just works. It's almost...Mac like. <dies>

I have also tried the Beta of Office 2008. I didn't like it at all. In fact, I hate it. I'm not even sure it's better than 2004. They made a huge mistake not copying the ribbon just because of the differences in what Mac users expected in their interface (that was their stated reason). I don't like the metal interface, the tool palette, any of it. Options are still buried deep within the system. The tool bar buttons (the dumbed down ribbon) make things pretty, but are useless for the most common tasks such as setting margins, sorting, formatting, etc.

Have you used both? For me it's going to seriously push me towards iWork, which will be 1/3 the price.


Quote:

Congratulations that iWork 08 has met all your needs. As a consumer level product, I don't doubt that iWork would probably be enough for most people out there. But Office is professional level software. Come on... macros, pivot tables, etc... - these are not minor, obscure functions that 99.9% of people will never used as some people claim. Ask anyone who works with numbers for a living. I would even dare to say that Apple's internal finance teams probably use Office or another professional suite, not iWork.

I agree with that. But the question is what are one's needs? I don't need pivot tables or any of that.

Quote:

iWork is an elegant, simple to use solution to create really good looking documents, but it simply does not have the power or features to be a heavy-duty productivity suite, and for that "0.01%" of us who do need them, and there are a lot of us, we need Office. I can guarantee to you that of all the hundreds of Excel documents I have on my MBP, only 1 of them might possibly work in Numbers without problem.

And to be clear on this point, I do use iWork regularly. I've owned iWork 06 since I got my Mac and 08 since it launched. Keynote 08 is amazing and it alone was worth the price of the entire suite.

Fair enough. I just think M$ really blew it here.
I can only please one person per day.  Today is not your day.  Tomorrow doesn't look good either.  
Reply
I can only please one person per day.  Today is not your day.  Tomorrow doesn't look good either.  
Reply
post #17 of 29
As someone already commented above, this review is horribly meanspirited.

There is no depth looking at how well Office 2008 actually works, just prodding and probing at the little quirks that are still there in a beta product. Devoting a paragraph to the floppy disk icon, honestly, who cares? I'm guessing that was left as a backwards impossible floppy in Windows as a bit of tongue-in-cheeck humour. When apple does the same thing with the PC BSOD icons, everyone dances and cheers. When Microsoft does it, it is a lack of attention to detail (which can be said of the BSOD icon, it is used for *nix machines as well as Windows ones).

There is an attack of the ribbon interface because it changes convention, which is an absurd criticism. There is no analysis with how well it works compared to the Office XP. I have used Word 2007 since it's first public beta, and I bought a license of the full thing as soon as I could. I have also used iWork 08 and Office 2008 from as soon as I could get my mittens on them. The ribbon interface is pure genius. Apple's weak attempt at something similar in iWork, is boring. The Office 2008 attempt is just as bad. The true beauty of the ribbon interface is that everything is there. The best part by far is that ALL of the ribbon interface is accessible using the keyboard. I know this escapes Steve Jobs, who still thinks that 1 button mice are a great way to interact with computers, but keyboard access is far greater than using a mouse in conjunction with a keyboard. Apple needs to realise that when one of its core markets is portables, it needs to make the OS and its applications more accessible using a keyboard (I still have no idea how to get into any part of the menubar using a keyboard, Windows at least makes this easy). The ribbon interface gets rid of the need to remember hundreds of keyboard shortcuts that are hidden inside menus. Hit alt, press the key corresponding to the tab you want to enter, press the key for the icon you want to use.

Instead, in iWork/Word 2008, first you dig around that floating box that always seems to get in the way (especially on a MacBook with limited screen real estate), then give up and dig through the menus. Not a nice way to get work done.

Attacking the animations and transitions for being jerky and unpolished in a beta product is a horrendous was to do a review. Lets all think back to Mac OS 10.0 and then talk about jerkiness and lack of polish. A beta product is not perfect, but it should be feature complete. That means that you should be able to review the features, and leave it at that, because the interface may still change, but features shouldn't (they will be improved, but you're not likely to see anything overly new or drastically revised) What I, and I think most readers, would have appreciated was a more thorough review of what Office 2008 can and can't do, comparing it to Office 2004, and more importantly to Office 2007.

Why does Office 2008 lack VisualBasic, making it incompatible with a lot of writing aids like EndNote, which are a huge reason for using Office over iWork. Why didn't Microsoft update the disgusting equation editor in Office 2008 to be at the same level as the one in Office 2007, or at least make it more accessible? Why is not possible to include lead-in headings in Office 2008, when it is relatively easy in Office 2007 (it does require a Google search and a button to be added next to the save icon). Why are there infinitely more Table of Contents options in Word 2007 but not 2008? Why does Alt+backspace delete a whole word to the left of the cursos, but Alt+Delete does not delete a whole word to the right of the cursor? Why doesn't Command+Shift+S give you a save as dialog box, or why isn't there at least some shortcut for this? Why is the shortcut for redo Command+Y rather than Mac OS's stupid default Command+Shift+S (two fingers are more convenient than 3 for a shortcut that will be used a lot)?

It feels more like you guys looked over someone's shoulder while they were using Office 2008, and then wrote a review based on a few screenshots, rather than an honest trial run with the suite.

I guess I'll stick to reading proper unbiased indepth reviews from Ars. Very disappointing AppleInsider, no digg for you.
post #18 of 29
At least, definitely worth a laugh.

@doctor.dan : just wait for the more in-depth review of the Office applications, and get lots of tissues ready.
post #19 of 29
A few comments:

I have also been Beta testing office for the last month or so, I just installed the newest beta release.

I am using Office in a university setting as a student. All emailing I do is centered around an exchange account so Entourage is very important to me. That said, the Entourage in 2008 is not Outlook, in fact I don't know that there are many large difference between it at 2004. I have full access to directory services, shared folders, etc, but can't see shared calendars. I can see others schedules when I schedule meetings, but i don't think any of the above isn't available in 2004. I guess it looks better than 2004. The other part I have used is the option for an exchange email account to use Kerberos authentication. This may allow turning on of other features but from the Office 2008 manual I have it doesn't look like it. All in all I don't think anybody should expect anything amazing out of 2008 other than it being "nicer looking".

...
post #20 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by la socialista View Post

All in all I don't think anybody should expect anything amazing out of 2008 other than it being "nicer looking".

Disappointing for those of us who were really hoping for better Exchange integration. Primarily what I have been hoping for is:
  • Out of Office replies (my understanding is this is here finally, and yes this can be simulated by using rules, but the last time I tried I ended up with an endless loop after my out-of-office reply was replied to by someone else's out-of-office).
  • Server-side rules. I have a lot of filtering of messages going on, and it would be nice if that would run even if my primary machine wasn't running.
  • Better access to the Exchange directory. I have no idea how my company has seemingly disabled this, but I have tried all manner of getting Entourage to look people up in the directory (perhaps it replies on LDAP, which may be turned off on our Exchange server) with no success.

I'm guessing MSFT had reasons for not keeping VBA alive. Perhaps it was too much effort to port over to Intel. Still, I have a few Excel macros I won't be able to use anymore. I see that the premium version of Office includes Automator actions. That implies it has some level of Applescript support. If so, this is something not even iWork has, and could well be a way around VBA Macros, even if it eliminates cross-platform support for them.
post #21 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by doctor.dan View Post

As someone already commented above, this review is horribly meanspirited.

I don't agree...though I don't think it's good, either.

Quote:

There is no depth looking at how well Office 2008 actually works, just prodding and probing at the little quirks that are still there in a beta product. Devoting a paragraph to the floppy disk icon, honestly, who cares? I'm guessing that was left as a backwards impossible floppy in Windows as a bit of tongue-in-cheeck humour. When apple does the same thing with the PC BSOD icons, everyone dances and cheers. When Microsoft does it, it is a lack of attention to detail (which can be said of the BSOD icon, it is used for *nix machines as well as Windows ones).

Agreed there. Who friggin cares about the floppy icon?

Quote:

There is an attack of the ribbon interface because it changes convention, which is an absurd criticism.

And yet, that is why M$ changed it in Mac. So they really can't make up their minds...they tried to change convention (from Office 2007) without changing it. They should have picked one or the other...preferably incorporating the ribbon wholesale.

Quote:
There is no analysis with how well it works compared to the Office XP. I have used Word 2007 since it's first public beta, and I bought a license of the full thing as soon as I could. I have also used iWork 08 and Office 2008 from as soon as I could get my mittens on them. The ribbon interface is pure genius.

I don't know about genius, but it's damn good. As I said, I actually LIKE it. I've never felt that way about M$ software. Ever.

Quote:

Apple's weak attempt at something similar in iWork, is boring. The Office 2008 attempt is just as bad. The true beauty of the ribbon interface is that everything is there. The best part by far is that ALL of the ribbon interface is accessible using the keyboard. I know this escapes Steve Jobs, who still thinks that 1 button mice are a great way to interact with computers, but keyboard access is far greater than using a mouse in conjunction with a keyboard. Apple needs to realise that when one of its core markets is portables, it needs to make the OS and its applications more accessible using a keyboard (I still have no idea how to get into any part of the menubar using a keyboard, Windows at least makes this easy). The ribbon interface gets rid of the need to remember hundreds of keyboard shortcuts that are hidden inside menus. Hit alt, press the key corresponding to the tab you want to enter, press the key for the icon you want to use.

I think that's actually pretty minor for most people (the keyboard shortcuts). I use it by pointing and clicking, and it's quite easy.

Quote:

Instead, in iWork/Word 2008, first you dig around that floating box that always seems to get in the way (especially on a MacBook with limited screen real estate), then give up and dig through the menus. Not a nice way to get work done.

Totally agreed. This was something that needed to be fixed, and they failed.

Quote:

Attacking the animations and transitions for being jerky and unpolished in a beta product is a horrendous was to do a review. Lets all think back to Mac OS 10.0 and then talk about jerkiness and lack of polish. A beta product is not perfect, but it should be feature complete. That means that you should be able to review the features, and leave it at that, because the interface may still change, but features shouldn't (they will be improved, but you're not likely to see anything overly new or drastically revised) What I, and I think most readers, would have appreciated was a more thorough review of what Office 2008 can and can't do, comparing it to Office 2004, and more importantly to Office 2007.

Agreed, though I doubt the interface will change at all.

Quote:

Why does Office 2008 lack VisualBasic, making it incompatible with a lot of writing aids like EndNote, which are a huge reason for using Office over iWork. Why didn't Microsoft update the disgusting equation editor in Office 2008 to be at the same level as the one in Office 2007, or at least make it more accessible? Why is not possible to include lead-in headings in Office 2008, when it is relatively easy in Office 2007 (it does require a Google search and a button to be added next to the save icon). Why are there infinitely more Table of Contents options in Word 2007 but not 2008? Why does Alt+backspace delete a whole word to the left of the cursos, but Alt+Delete does not delete a whole word to the right of the cursor? Why doesn't Command+Shift+S give you a save as dialog box, or why isn't there at least some shortcut for this? Why is the shortcut for redo Command+Y rather than Mac OS's stupid default Command+Shift+S (two fingers are more convenient than 3 for a shortcut that will be used a lot)?

It feels more like you guys looked over someone's shoulder while they were using Office 2008, and then wrote a review based on a few screenshots, rather than an honest trial run with the suite.

I guess I'll stick to reading proper unbiased indepth reviews from Ars. Very disappointing AppleInsider, no digg for you.

Well, that's a bit over the top. I agree the review isn't good, but I'll leave it there.
I can only please one person per day.  Today is not your day.  Tomorrow doesn't look good either.  
Reply
I can only please one person per day.  Today is not your day.  Tomorrow doesn't look good either.  
Reply
post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by djames42 View Post

Disappointing for those of us who were really hoping for better Exchange integration. Primarily what I have been hoping for is:
  • Out of Office replies (my understanding is this is here finally, and yes this can be simulated by using rules, but the last time I tried I ended up with an endless loop after my out-of-office reply was replied to by someone else's out-of-office).
  • Server-side rules. I have a lot of filtering of messages going on, and it would be nice if that would run even if my primary machine wasn't running.
  • Better access to the Exchange directory. I have no idea how my company has seemingly disabled this, but I have tried all manner of getting Entourage to look people up in the directory (perhaps it replies on LDAP, which may be turned off on our Exchange server) with no success.

I'm guessing MSFT had reasons for not keeping VBA alive. Perhaps it was too much effort to port over to Intel. Still, I have a few Excel macros I won't be able to use anymore. I see that the premium version of Office includes Automator actions. That implies it has some level of Applescript support. If so, this is something not even iWork has, and could well be a way around VBA Macros, even if it eliminates cross-platform support for them.

To clarify:

-- Out of office does work in 2008.
-- Server side rules, not yet, don't know if they are coming.
-- Access to directory services is all up to your exchange admins and the LDAP settings, with the way things are set up where I am I have full access, and when composing, it goes to local contacts first then directories.
post #23 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by la socialista View Post

A few comments:

I have also been Beta testing office for the last month or so, I just installed the newest beta release.

...

How new of a beta? Does it expire in 4 days, or later than that? I recently got the beta, but it comes belly up here soon, and would like to keep testing for awhile.
post #24 of 29
You've all written to much and I can't be bothered to check if anyone is moaning about Entourage still using one big fat monolithic database. ARE THEY DEAF??? I can't believe it. I have submitted it as feedback but I doubt they will change it at this late stage. Time Machine and Portable Home Directories are going to hate Office 2008 as they hate 2004 today. Microsoft has really been ignorant here.

Official Beta Testers can download the latest Beta (8) via Microsoft Connect. Beta 7 is due to expire.
post #25 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by CoolHandPete View Post

Am I missing something here, or has Microsoft compromised roughly 1/3 of the entire height of the screen with icons and other bunk?

Yeah there's certainly a lot of wasted space. What I don't understand about Word, iwork etc is why they insist on using the top of the page.

Documents tend to be taller rather than wide, computers tend to be widescreen, we have a menubar and dock at the top and bottom respectively and yet they insist on putting stuff at the top of the document. A sidebar would be a much better thing to have and one that attached to the window, not a floating window that gets in the way.

The reason for the floating window is of course to save having multiple copies of the same controls but surely it could always appear attached to the frontmost document and disappear or fade on ones in the background.

I can't say the ribbon interface is all that great. It wastes a lot of space and the animations are slow when they are starting out. Spell checking is still slow - Textedit is quicker, the interface doesn't like Uno btw, there's lots of odd coloring. Hopefully the final version will be better but the fact it has taken this long to get a universal binary is beyond a joke.
post #26 of 29
I'll probably install Office '08 for speed purposes. Ribbons are quite retarded, IMO. Takes too many clicks unless everything you need is in one area. Not to mention it's completely static. If you have a different workflow, tough shit. You have three choices: the scattered ribbon, menus, or keyboard shortcuts. Also takes up quite a bit of space. I'll see how much I like Office '08 once it hits final, but frankly I don't think the gallery is much worse than ribbons.
post #27 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by teedoff087 View Post

I'll probably install Office '08 for speed purposes. Ribbons are quite retarded, IMO. Takes too many clicks unless everything you need is in one area. Not to mention it's completely static. If you have a different workflow, tough shit. You have three choices: the scattered ribbon, menus, or keyboard shortcuts. Also takes up quite a bit of space. I'll see how much I like Office '08 once it hits final, but frankly I don't think the gallery is much worse than ribbons.

Have you used Office 2007 for Windows? Thinking about liking it is one thing. Using it is another.
I can only please one person per day.  Today is not your day.  Tomorrow doesn't look good either.  
Reply
I can only please one person per day.  Today is not your day.  Tomorrow doesn't look good either.  
Reply
post #28 of 29
I have Office 2007 for Windows on my PC. I still think it's terrible. But that's just the opinion of one man.
post #29 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDW2001 View Post

Then you don't use Office 2007 for Windows. My school upgraded at the end of last year, and let me tell you, as someone that hates M$ products, It is far superior to any version of Office. I actually enjoy using it. The ribbon is absolutely awesome for everything from setting margins (they have quick and easy presets like "moderate" and "narrow" for those). Finding options for sorting data in Excel is quick an easy. It all just works. It's almost...Mac like. <dies>

I have used Office 2007. Not as extensively as I used Office 2003 or Office:mac 2004, but I have. And again, that's why I said it was my own personal opinion of the Ribbon interface, hence the (imo). I acknowledge it has benefits and makes everything easily accessible, but for me, the learning curve was taking too much time. Look at it like a Dvorak keyboard - I can admit it probably works better and more efficiently, but I'm familiar with QWERTY and don't really have the time or the motivation to re-learn a different system, especially when it's unnecessary for my needs.

Same applies here. Working with Ribbon, I spent too much time hunting for what I needed when in the old toolbar-hell, I knew exactly where to go to get it to do what I want.

And to the poster who was saying that Elements Gallery is a bad compromise and MacBU should have brought Ribbon directly to Office:mac, the whole point is Ribbon wouldn't work under OSX because Ribbon would violate pretty much all of OSX's UI aesthetic conventions. Office would look like an app running in X11, and the Mac faithful would be up in arms about how ugly it was.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Mac Software
AppleInsider › Forums › Software › Mac Software › Road to Office 2008: installation and interface