Macworld’s preview of Office 2004

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
March 5th, 2004 • 9:11 am

Macworld’s preview of the upcoming Microsoft Office 2004 for the Mac is beyond predictable.

It deals exclusively with Microsoft’s new flashy, marketing-friendly features, such as the “Project Centre” and the “Notebook” layout view. The only interesting part is the one about the page layout view in Excel, which is of course long overdue.

What about Unicode support? Support for long file names? XML support? Document corruption? Bug fixes?

Obviously Macworld cares as much about the real concerns of users as Microsoft itself does. No news here.

5 Responses to “Macworld’s preview of Office 2004”

  1. MacDesigner says:

    Pierre, I think you’re being a little harsh on Macworld. This is a product preview, and in the first paragraph they begin talking about the new features. So that’s what the article is about. I’m not positive, but I believe Macworld only does reviews on shipping products. This article to me looked like a basic, “what’s new piece.” It’s defiantly not an article that’s going to mention bug fixes, as they probably only had a beta version to use.

    Now if the product ships and they don’t talk about Unicode or XML support, then I believe you’d have a more reasonable beef with Macworld. While I agree it’s mostly a fluff piece, it’s most likely all they were allowed to write about. MS probably told them they could get a preview version to write about, only if they promoted the new features that bumped the work on the spell/grammer checker. :-)

    While I can understand Macworld’s wanting to get an exclusive on the next version of Office, I dislike the idea of a free promotional piece. I’d prefer if MS just out and out paid Macworld to write the piece, instead of this hidden agenda piece. But as long as Macworld doesn’t advertise it as anything more than a list of new features, I won’t complain too much.

    I do believe, the lack of any mention of the features you write about, probably means they won’t be there. Now if it was MS-XML, then you’d see that as the Office standard.

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    If Office 2004 doesn’t support long file names and Unicode, I’ll be really pissed off. :-/

    I agree with you that it’s a kind of “hybrid” piece that’s neither journalism nor promotional material. My beef with Macworld (and MacCentral) is that this kind of hybrid stuff is far too prevalent in their material. If they did this and then produced pieces that are more critical and user-centric, then I’d be more willing to forgive them. But Macworld lost their critical edge a long time ago… when business was really way down and they had to get cosier with Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, etc. in order to survive, I guess.

    Since they are the only ones who get to “preview” the new stuff, I believe we are entitled to raise the issue of journalistic integrity here.

  3. MacDesigner says:

    I agree with your response to my original post, Pierre. That’s why I said I prefer if MS just paid Macworld to run the preview. I let my subscription to Macworld lapse over 2 years ago, and haven’t missed it at all. To me their writing had become dull and uninteresting.

    The other thing that upset me was as a subscriber, I’d see special issues on the newsstand with CD’s and special offers. Perhaps it was more economical for them to sell these issues to the at large public. But I always feel the subscribers should get the special deals, were the ones that committed the time and money to them. Shouldn’t that be one of the advantages to subscribing.

    I guess we’ll see how many features of the new Office will truly useful and not just add to the bloat ware.

  4. Paul Ingraham says:

    I only recently started paying attention to MacWorld and MacCentral. For various reasons, I was simply never interested until now. I’ve been underwhelmed. There’s information there I value, but not enough to justify a subscription, especially if my subscription doesn’t even get me those “special” issues. :-)

    And I can’t agree strongly enough with Pierre regarding the lack of critical content. I’ve read a number of daft, hopelessly forgiving reviews of software that I found to be seriously flawed within minutes of installation. As for Office 2004, apparently a gutless preview suits a gutless release. I can’t agree strongly enough with Pierre that the focus on new features, to the exclusion of even so much as wondering aloud about bug fixes that have been overdue for years, is more than just a bit disappointing.

    Computing is not a novelty. Software design and quality is not a trivial matter, if it ever was. Microsoft’s failure to provide a substantive and meaningful upgrade, and Macworld’s failure to criticize them for it, is… well, words fail me. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, here, I’m afraid.

  5. Pierre Igot says:

    If I remember correctly, MacCentral used to be quite decent… in the beginning. But even before Macworld bought them out, the quality had been in steep decline. Far less valuable content, more and more cutting-and-pasting from company PRs. Right now I really don’t know whose needs they are trying to meet.

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