Office:Mac 2008… a Few Words

I wanted to say a few words about Office:Mac 2008, as it was released this week at Macworld and is available for order from the Apple website. Supply is already in the channel too, as there are boxes for sale in the SFO Apple Store.

I have several things to say about this suite and I’m afraid that most of them will come off as negatives.

Let’s get a few things out of the way. I’ll just put it straight as I’ve seen/spoken it over the past year. Now that the product is out, I feel like I can speak somewhat about it.

I’ve met with Craig Eisler, the GM of the Mac Business Unit at Microsoft as of June 2007. Nice guy, I like him lots. He’s a fast talker and quick on the wit, so be ready with your mind primed when you meet him. I call him “The Chihuahua” mainly because of how quickly he yaps through his sentences, but that’s certainly not meant to be derogatory. He’s a very nice fellow.

Here’s a few things that Mr. Eisler has said about Office:Mac. I feel it’s important to address them.

“Office for the Mac is not a port of Office for Windows. It is an implementation of Office.”

Using that single statement, you can start to see where the mindset for the MacBU was when they made decisions. Therefore, here’s my hitlist.

  • Tasks and Notes still do not sync with the Exchange Server, even with 2008
  • Visual Basic macros/scripting has been removed. Who cares if you need to share documents with Windows users that makes use of this functionality? Well, expect to port it to Applescript somehow. Remember, this is an implementation of Office, not an Office for Windows port. You obviously do not need that level of collaboration with Windows users.
  • The ribbon UI from Office 2007 is “ported to the Mac in a Mac-ish way.” Whatever that means. Please, just get rid of it.
  • The most expensive version of Office:Mac 2008 contains a digital media organizer called Microsoft Expression. Why? This is a Mac. Why spend time on buying a company that makes a product like this and porting it to the Mac? This is a Mac for crissake. In case you didn’t know, digital media organization comes with the Mac. That’s what Apple does. Why does Microsoft need to fire one synapse at this at all? Why can’t they use the time more wisely and do something like… oh I dunno…make tasks and notes sync with the Exchange server!

I’ve used it for some number of months and can say that as a productivity suite, it’s passable. I admit that I rarely use the tools like Powerpoint and Word, except to view other peoples’ work. If I’m going to do something heavy, I usually end up firing up Word 2007 in a VM. I don’t know why I avoid Word 2008 on the Mac, but it just seems to be overkill in a way that doesn’t agree with me. I know that it will be more than a viable product for 90% of the market that needs it, however, and for those people it’s a beautiful thing… well, as long as you don’t have to share your work with anyone running Windows 😉

I’m installing Office:Mac 2008 on my work Mac because, well, I have to. I will not be installing it on the Mac Pro at home because, well, I have iWork. I’m hoping one day that priorities will fall back into place at the MacBU.

Perhaps I should apply there and help to set them straight.