PowerPoint X: Pathetic

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
February 24th, 2003 • 6:42 am

Speaking of poor application support…

Thank God I don’t often have to use Microsoft PowerPoint. But sometimes I do. I get a contract to do a project involving translating a PowerPoint presentation into French. I have no choice but to edit the presentation text in PowerPoint.

PowerPoint 2001 for the Mac was bad enough. But PowerPoint X takes the cake. Can you imagine, for example, that, due to its totally lousy proprietary text input methods, the US version of PowerPoint X does not properly recognize deadkeys on my French-Canadian Mac keyboard layout? In other words, each time I need to type a French word that contains a circumflex accent (which is only accessible through a diacritic deadkey in the Canadian-CSA keyboard layout), I have to go through PowerPoint’s Insert>Symbol… dialog box!

Considering that some of the most commonly used words in French (être, côté, etc.) contain circumflex accents, you can imagine how frustrating this is!

I cannot even use PopChar X for this. (I suspect PopChar X simply reproduces the keystroke, so the incompatibility with PowerPoint X is still there.)

This is, quite frankly, absolutely ridiculous. Do you know how much PowerPoint X retails for? Do you know how long ago the software was first released, and how many software updates Microsoft has issued since then?

Yes, believe it or not, the bug is still there in the very latest version of PowerPoint X.

I would tend to suspect that the French version of PowerPoint X does not have this bug — otherwise there would be a massive outcry in France and other PowerPoint-using French-speaking countries! But what’s the excuse for not fixing the bug in the US version? Granted, the vast majority of users of the US version of PowerPoint X are English speakers, and use the US English keyboard layout… But still!

This is oh-so-typical. I am also willing to bet that Microsoft is blaming Apple for this bug, because they changed the behaviour of deadkeys in Mac OS X in order to make it more intuitive. The first versions of Word X also had a bug with deadkeys, which was a major pain in the neck. I suppose there were enough complaints to pressure Microsoft to fix the bug, even in the US version of Word X…

Why am I using the US version of Office X rather than the French version? There are several reasons for this. One is that French versions of Mac software (including Mac OS X itself) are usually designed for France, and not for French-speaking Canada. The second reason is that Microsoft has so far failed to adopt the right approach for localizing their software in OS X and you actually have to purchase a separate French version if you want to use Office in French. (Mac OS X encourages developers to include all localizations in one single package, just like Mac OS X itself does. Of course Microsoft has chosen not to adopt that approach.) This also means that, for subsequent software updates, you have to wait until the French version of the update is released by Microsoft, which typically takes longer than the US English version. Finally, my whole OS X environment is in English, and I don’t particularly fancy having to use a French interface just in Word when the rest of my system is in English. I work in English as much as I do in French, and I should have a right to choose which language environment I prefer.

Of course, in addition to all this, because of the proprietary text input methods in PowerPoint X, Spell Catcher X doesn’t work, and I cannot rely on my many shorthand entries to type faster and more efficiently.

Shame on Microsoft for not fully embracing Mac OS X, and shame on them for this bug in the US version of PowerPoint X that still hasn’t been fixed! I have to translate a 5,000-word PowerPoint presentation today, and this bug is, well, bugging me to no end!

One Response to “PowerPoint X: Pathetic”

  1. Stephan says:

    Hi there,

    I stumbled across this bug, too, today, however using a German Version of PowerPoint X. Now, German has got Umlauts such as äüö as well as an old ligature for “sz” wich is written ß. These keys are typically on a German key board and they work fine in the German version of PowerPoint.

    However, today I have translated a 33 pages presentation from German to Spanish, which uses accented letters such as á, é, í, ó, ú and ñ. They are entered pressing first the appropriate Accent-Key and then the according letter (or for the ñ, first ALT-n and then n). Portugues also has got ã and õ… Anyway, it works all fine when all of a sudden, PowerPoint – and only PowerPoint – starts interpreting the ´ followed by a letter as a tab stop followed by a letter!!! This is redicolous! The only way to get PowerPoint out of this bug is quit and start the app again. This means, in nearly all of my 33 pages translation I had to stop my work, quit PowerPoint and restart again.

    Guess what I am doing on Monday. I have really had it with MS lately. I’m gonna call them up in Germany and won’t let go until I am passed on to some senior manager. We’ve got 5 licences of MS Office on our Macs and I am absolutely not willing any longer to live with such poor software. And I can only strongly encourage everybody out there to do just the same. Phone them up, don’t let loose, don’t let be artificially calmed by their call center people who are trained to keep away nagging customers and keep them calm. State your point and go out there make noise. You are the customer. You have paid Microsoft. You have a RIGHT to better quality software without yet paying for another update. Fight for your rights! If the food were bad in a restaurant, you wouldn’t pay it either, would you?!

    Stephan. Furious.

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