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

September 20, 2008 9 comments

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.

Solution

  • 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!