Home > Mac > The Microsoft Office 2008 disaster (Office:mac 2008 buggy as hell)

The Microsoft Office 2008 disaster (Office:mac 2008 buggy as hell)

What is it about Microsoft that makes them incapable of releasing software packed to the rafters with show stopping bugs?

What I mean to say is that Office 2008 is as buggy as Hell! Come on Microsoft, this is your flagship suite on the Mac, often the only exposure to your company diehard Mac users ever get. And what do you give them? Shit on a plate.

We’ve got this project on at the moment, and I’ve been trying to get it done, but Office:mac 2008 just doesn’t seem to want to let me.

Let’s start with the good stuff:

  • Excel 2008 on my Intel Mac Mini scrolls noticably faster than Office 2004 on the same machine. So although my 2.4GHz iMac 24″ is fast enough to handle the Rosetta translation from PPC to Intel without noticable performance issues, my Mac Mini clearly struggles with 2004. Exel 2008 is, once up and running, smoother on this limited machine.
  • Entourage 2008 is better than 2004. It’s faster, cleaner and stalls less often when syncing my Hotmail. Enough said. Way to go Microsoft.

OK, that’s the good stuff out of the way, now the bad stuff.

  • No Visual Basic. WTF?

Excuse me? But HTF am I supposed to run my spreadsheets without Visual Basic? Don’t give me some cock and bull story about “Applescript is the standard script on the Mac, so we changed to Applescript.”

Since when have you ever cared about standards, Microsoft?

Put VB back in and we’ll talk some more.

  • Less stable than Naomi Campbell

Excel crashed twice last night, in three hours. That’s just a joke. It would stall for a second and vanish without a trace. And not just last night, but often.

  • It’s fat, flabby and slow

Why is it that my copy of Office 2004 running in emulation on an Intel Mac is faster than Office 2008 running native (bar the aforementioned scrolling) on the same machine?

Excel 2004 takes less than 10 seconds to boot, Excel 2008 takes almost twice as long! Come on! This is not acceptable. This is native code and it’s being trounced by emulated code!

Now, it may run faster, but what am I doing that needs the speed? It’s not like I’m running any cunning VB scripts… ’cause they removed it! And who in their right mind is going to develop ultracomplex Applescript macros when Microsoft themselves said they’re going to put VB back in in the next release…

Sounds like they used the same programmers that made Vista.

  • Bugs

There are just too many. Really. I’m not going to bore you with any but these two which have cost me considerable productivity time.

I saved a file as an XLSX (Excel XML format) and was completely unable to open it in office 2004 and Office 2003 on the PC, even with the Version 11.5 update and the Compatibility pack installed! I had to connect to my iMac at home, resave the file as an Excel 97~2003 file and try again. Strange though, only a couple of files have showed this bug… But then, that’s the nature of bugs, isn’t it.

Display issues is currently a real annoyance.

Check out these screenshots:

View a sheet at 100% and all is well. 

Zoom in to 125% and everything turns into hashes.

It doesn’t matter if you expand a column out, the hashes just multiply to fill the gap!

It’s only when you SHRINK the column that the hashes disappear and text appears.

Twiddle the width of the column a little and the text comes back.

Come ON Microsoft, this is NOT production quality software.


  • There is no solution at present.

I recommend sticking with 2004, which while being a foible laden application suite is stable, predictable and reliable; three concepts I’ve started to take more seriously the older I’ve got.

I’m going to wait for a couple of service packs and try it again later. In the meantime and for the first time ever, I’ve reinstalled an earlier version of Office!

  1. John Holter
    September 22, 2008 at 12:13 am

    Keep it Up!

    When the hell is Apple going to steal everything from the Gates legacy and get on board with a really robust suite of their own. I am sick and tired of being imprisoned by Microsoft.

    I have been interviewing the NeoOffice suite, not bad, and, we should start sending money to them so we can shut the door in Microsoft’s face.

    Just keep this kind of dialog going. Maybe the Mac community will wake up and boycott the Gates Foundation. Bill: Give us back what we gave you when you were hungry!

  2. nanchatte
    September 22, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Microsoft has really lost the plot, although, with Leopard’s buggy release I sometimes feel that Apple have done, too. Still… Snow leopard promises to fix a lot of issues without introducing any new chaff.

  3. nanchatte
    September 22, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Tom Ruthemann has sent me the following message:
    >Do try OpenOffice 3.0. Still in Beta but fast as hell and seems really stable.


    Thx for the heads up, I’ve been wanting to take a look at it, but have had decidedly mixed results with Open Office 2 on both Windows and Mac, with page layout problems when opening MS Office stuff, which put me off.

    It was also slow on my old PPC macs and Office 2004 has done the trick for so long now that it’s become second nature to use that one.

  4. McX
    September 23, 2008 at 4:08 am

    Microsoft Excel 2008 is a disaster. I used to run time series analysis tutorials for students using the Analysis Toolkit Addin FFT package. No more thanks to a lack of VBA. Try plotting 2048 data points as a time series – get a cup of coffee while you wait. then try and move the graph to a different point in sheet – ?!!!, my old 800 MHz PC was faster than this. There are so many bugs I just gave up and uninstalled it. My old 2004 office runs much faster (G5 PPC Desktop at Work, its a little better on my new IMac at home but not much). I agree with the above statements – emulator version works faster on non intel than native on intel – ?!!! Microsoft’s plan to convert Apple users to PC’s seems to be working. I visited the Microsoft office for Mac web site – the blithely ignorant, blase statements that all is well are breathtaking in their arrogance – or maybe this is just policy, shuffle the deck-chairs on the titanic and maybe the customers wont notice the problem. Don’t these people at Microsoft read the crash feedback reports from Apple? Subsequent “fixes” were tantamount to complete reinstallation – look at their file sizes!I have uninstalled Office 2008 from my work machine and reinstalled Office 2004. For more power use re an Excel type interface I have switched to Igor Pro. The graphical updates in Igor Pro are breathakingly fast compared to Excel for Office, the learning curve is tougher but worth it. i will never invest in another version of Office again.

  5. nanchatte
    September 23, 2008 at 4:13 am

    Thx for the post. Yes I’ve gone back to a previous version of office for the first time and will stay there until VB comes back.

    Just one thing…
    >I agree with the above statements – emulator version works faster on non intel than native on intel<

    Did you mean emulated version of 2004 (which is PPC only) works better on Intel than the native version of 2008 (which is universal) does? Because that’s what I meant 😉

  6. Tom
    February 22, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Excel 2008 is a particularly bad joke. It doesn’t seem to understand time formats *at*all* and often can’t calculate columns with this format applied, even if you overload the expressions with TIMEVALUE statements. Graphs are absolutely PITIFUL! Half of the time (in the best of cases), you get the wrong values applied to the X and Y axis if you include multiple discretely selected columns. Excel 2008 is useless JUNK that Microsoft spent NO TIME WHATSOEVER having checked in *quality*assurance*! It’s crap straight from developers hands into users.

  1. September 22, 2008 at 12:37 am
  2. September 22, 2008 at 12:40 am
  3. October 8, 2008 at 1:00 am

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