February 27th, 2004 • 5:23 am
Microsoft developer Rick Schaut has an interesting blog entry on the Macintosh software fiasco known as Word 6.0 for Macintosh. It is written from a developer’s point of view, so it’s pretty hard-core, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
Also interesting are the comments added by readers, and Rick Schaut’s reply to these comments. For example, to a comment from Sandy McMurray about whether the next version of Office for Macintosh (Office 2004) would support Mac OS X’s built-in spell checker and Address Book functionality, here’s Rick’s answer:
Sandy, to be perfectly honest, it would be a serious amount of work to try to use the system spelling checker in Word. One reason is that Word’s spell checking is tied in with grammar checking. However, there might be a way that we can grab the list of custom words from the system dictionaries. I’ll pass the idea on to our proofing tools people.
Well, that says it all, doesn’t it? Why should the user care whether Word’s spell checker is “tied in with grammar checking”? Most of the people I know never use a grammar checker in the first place (not to mention Microsoft’s version of one), simply because the grammar of natural language is far more complex than any software currently available can handle. This means that most of the grammar checking done by tools such as Word’s grammar checker is useless, because it flags as wrong things that are perfectly right, and doesn’t catch obvious grammar errors because it’s not smart enough.
And the fact that the idea of supporting Mac OS X’s built-in spell checker still needs to be passed on to Microsoft’s “proofing tools people” at this particular stage in the development of Office 2004 is, well, to put it simply, ridiculous. Mac OS X has been out for years, and its built-in spell checker has been accessible to Carbon applications for a while too. Do Microsoft people really need to be told at this point in time that Mac OS X users would like Word to support Mac OS X’s built-in spell checker?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you want a system-wide spell checker solution, check out Spell Catcher X. It works in all applications, including Microsoft Word and Excel, and it is also accessible through Mac OS X’s built-in spell checker.
As for Office 2004 supporting Address Book, well, Rick Schaut doesn’t even answer that question. That should tell you how much of a priority it is for Microsoft. (Remember that it’s not in Microsoft’s economic interests to support standards or Mac OS X’s built-in features, unless they can “customize” them in a way to lets them pretend that they support them while they actually don’t.)
I suppose that, in 2011, we’ll be reading the blog entries of someone working for Microsoft who will reminisce about how Microsoft finally understood what it meant to be “Mac-like” and user-friendly after the disappointing sales of Microsoft Office X in 2003. Some things never change…