May 14th, 2008 • 10:10 am
Microsoft’s own Erik Schwiebert writes a post about the return of Visual Basic for Applications to the Mac in the next version of Office.
It is an interesting read, if only to get a sense of the twisted logic under which the MacBU operates. In their world, everything is always great, and things are just going to keep getting better and better. That’s what happens when you live with a near-monopoly situation for so long, I guess. (The comments are also an interesting read.)
I just cannot keep wondering about the “corporate” or “business” Mac users who:
- were dismayed to hear about the removal of VBA in Office 2008
- bought Office 2008 anyway, because they didn’t have much of a choice (need for Intel-native applications, need for XML file format support, etc.)
- painstakingly tried to recreate all their macros using AppleScript
- now are told that they did all that work for nothing and were just supposed to keep using Office 2004 and wait for Office 2012
I have my own business and I use Office for Mac in my work, but I probably don’t qualify as a “business” user in the eyes of Microsoft, because I am not a big corporation and I refuse to put up with the crap that Microsoft tries to make us swallow.
Still, I could have gone down the path described above and attempted to recreate all my Word macros using AppleScript. I actually did it for one macro (for pasting unformatted text), but I didn’t go any farther, partly because it was a very unpleasant experience, but mostly because I know from experience that Microsoft cannot be trusted and that all the work that I might do today could again count for nothing in one year or two. I have been burnt before.
As the example above demonstrates, it is simply pointless to try and follow Microsoft’s lead. On the contrary, it will cost you, again and again. And don’t believe for a second that all will finally be well when Office 2012 comes out. It is absolutely certain that Microsoft will find more ways to screw you.
The only sensible to do is avoid Microsoft products altogether, as much as possible. I can’t help but wonder whether the real story behind these headlines about the return of VBA for the Mac is that, by dropping VBA, Microsoft was hoping that corporate Mac users would simply drop the Mac altogether and switch to Windows. When they saw that, on the contrary, corporate Mac users were giving up on Microsoft and trying to move to other, competing products (such as iWork), then they realized that dropping VBA was a very bad idea indeed and decided to bring it back.
I suspect that it is too little too late. Of course, Microsoft’s sales numbers won’t fall dramatically any time soon. There’s just too much inertia in a near-monopoly situation and, with the Mac platform as a whole on the rise, like Gruber says, a rising tide lifts all boats. But sooner or later a critical mass of Mac users will realize that they don’t have to put up with this crap anymore and that there are realistic alternatives out there for many situations, including in the business world.