Microsoft's Office ribbon hits Mac fans
The ties that bind
Office 2011 for Mac hit retailers Tuesday with more crossover between the Apple and Windows editions than ever before — and that might not be a good thing for Microsoft.
Microsoft's productivity suite for Mac fans dumps Entourage for Outlook and includes integration with the Office Web apps — the browser-based edition of Office that lets you work with online versions of Microsoft's popular Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote applications.
Office 2011 for Mac also exposes Apple fans to Office's notorious ribbon interface that was introduced in Office 2007 and also adds support for Visual Basic for Applications.
Both "features" presented problems for business customers using Windows, prompting IT departments to postpone their upgrades to Office 2007. The problems posed by the ribbon interface and VBA are now poised to haunt Office 2010, which was released by Microsoft in May.
Concerns about the ribbon and the work it might require to retrain end users is the single biggest concern for IT departments rolling out Office 2010, according to an international study released Tuesday. That poll of 953 IT professionals in North America, Europe, and Asia, conducted by desktop management specialist Dell KACE, found that forty-five per cent of respondents are worried about retraining needs.
Office 2010's inability to work with existing Office add-in applications and macros, and non-XML file formats in older versions of Office documents, concerned 33 per cent.
The Reg reported this January about how IT departments in major businesses running Office 2003 were delaying the move to Office 2007 because they had to rewrite and test old VBA Office macros and deal with file incompatibilities, in addition to worrying about the new interface.
Almost a year later it seems that the old concerns have transferred to moving from Office 2007 to Office 2010. KACE found that 20 per cent of respondents had deployed Office 2010 outside a test environment, with 52 per cent not having deployed it in any way. Just four per cent have fully moved to Office 2010 five months after its release.
Dell KACE did find that enthusiasm for Office 2010 is high, with 85 per cent planning to move "eventually", but they also found that organizations are typically upgrading to Office 2007 before Office 2010.
Clearly, the kind of customers KACE surveyed are unlikely to mirror the average Office for Mac user. Despite its sales successes, the Mac still has a relatively tiny percentage of the PC market — around seven per cent.
If the lessons of the ribbon interface and the VBA move experienced in the Windows world are true for Mac users, though, Office 2010 for Mac could see a tough time getting adopted as businesses and individuals wrestle with an unfamiliar interface and broken apps.
Dell KACE found that upgrades to Office 2010 do not necessarily mirror the move to Windows 7. IT is split on installing Office 2010 on Windows 7 or other operating systems, and whether to upgrade from Windows XP.
Forty-nine per cent will deploy Office 2010 on a version of Windows other than Windows 7, released a year ago by Microsoft. Users are split on whether to upgrade from Windows XP: 47 per cent said they'd upgrade to Office 2010 when Windows XP's support is discontinued — in April 2014 — while 48 per cent said they'd soldier on using Windows XP even without support.
The survey, meanwhile, found that 6 per cent of organizations have now fully deployed Windows 7 — up a single percentage point from January when Dell KACE last spoke to customers. Thirty-eight percent have a partial rollout, compared to 15 per cent at the start of 2010. ®
You're talking rubbish. I recently migrated to Office 2007 from Office 2003, and quite frankly I think it's rubbish.
The whole point about Windows is a common look and feel across applications to make things easy to use, a consistent user interface.
That's been the way it's been since the late 1980's. 30 years we've had a consistent interface.
Microsoft in Office 2007 completely threw that out the window, for what I can so, no good reason other than to create a new product, a new version of a product which they can sell to keep their revenue streams coming in.
Let's take little things such as inserting a Chart into Excel, in 2003, it would prompt you where to put it, in the current sheet or create a new sheet for it.
I challenge anyone to put a chart in Excel 2007 on to a new worksheet, for the first time - without going to the online help and spending a few minutes trying to work out how to do it..
One of my colleagues claims he finds 2007 results in greater productivity for him, but a number of my other colleagues - and I - the frustation we have all experienced trying to find things is immense.
Microsoft really messed up on the ribbon strategy, completely pointless.
Just plain 'training' will do
"Concerns about the ribbon and the work it might require to retrain end users"
Having watched an astonishing percentage of users across the public and privates sector struggle with even the most rudimentary tasks in Office, it seems few organisations actually train people to use it in the first place. Knowledge of setting up styles in word seems to be almost non-existent - I've heard it described as for "advanced users" by people who routinely produce 100 page documents, changing each headers font/size/colour by hand. Using spaces to indent text instead of tabs is astoundingly common (including on one occasion for a two-column layout!), as is building lengthy (unlinked) tables of contents by hand. Even "save as" seems to be too exotic for some and templates may as well not exist at all.
Excel has it's own plethora of misunderstandings, but its most common use by far seems to be as a substitute for the tables in MS Word that seem to strike fear into the heart of the average user.
Three-quarters don't seem to know any keyboard shortcuts beyond the basic system stuff and a quarter don't even know those, relying on right-click and menus. I found one individual (10 years in the job) who had never heard of cut/paste and actually retyped everything from one do to another.
I've lost count of the number of times companies have considered that supplying screen res graphics/images/logos as .docx files is acceptable for high quality print reproduction - not exactly MS' fault, but I think the mindset is.
What Office really needs is not a ribbon, a new toolbar or a slew of new functions, but a "cut the sodding clutter and give me the fucking basics cos I just want to write a bloody letter" button, which, along with a few shortcuts, would suffice for most users. "Help" that does what it says on the tin and is navigable by people without a degree in codebreaking would be useful too.
"Efficiency" is one of those words beloved of our so-called business "leaders" (most of them IT illiterate). If they were really up for efficiency gains they'd send every staff member who uses windows/office and lacks the very, very basic skills on a course till they can manage the elementary standard even a fifteen year old should be able to demonstrate.
want to qualify that or should we just take your word for it?