Microsoft Office 2008 delayed until first quarter of 2008

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft
August 2nd, 2007 • 10:21 am

I am afraid the announcement of a delay in the release of Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac does not really come as a surprise.

According to Microsoft, the delay is required “in order to fix lingering bugs in the software” and is “just a quality issue across the board.”

I am willing to bet, however, that the final release of Office 2008 will be just as full of bugs as previous versions have been—not deal-breaking bugs, of course, but tons of more “minor” bugs that Microsoft will never bother to fix because they simply don’t actually care about “quality” in their software. Or rather, their definition of “quality” has very little in common with what we Mac users consider a quality Mac software product.

I think the ultimate shame here for Microsoft is not just that there is an additional delay, but that this delay comes on top of the fact that Microsoft is already, at this point in time, far behind everyone else when it comes to releasing Intel-native Mac software.

Even Adobe, that other software juggernaut with a rather different interpretation of what a “quality” Mac product is, has already released its own suite of Intel-native software for the Mac. And in my experience with Photoshop CS3, InDesign CS3, and Illustrator CS3 in the past couple of months, they have actually done a fairly decent job. The applications are fairly fast and quite stable, and actually come with a number of interesting improvements.

Now, if even Adobe was able to release an Intel-native suite in the first half of 2007, why is it taking so long for Microsoft? I think we are all quite familiar with the reasons. Their developers are simply not very good, and the software market is such that they don’t actually need to hire good developers and develop a good product. No matter how bad and un-Mac-like Office 2008 is, people will still have to buy it.

Microsoft Office consists of millions of lines of crappy code, and porting the code to a new development platform is a challenge, not because of the scale of the task (the scale of task was just as big for Adobe), but because the code is utterly crappy. Microsoft’s software has all kinds of facets where the applications do things their own (crappy) way instead of relying on the built-in tools provided by the underlying OS, and because of this, of course, with the switch to Intel, they have to redo everything.

And do you think that they will finally get the message and replace their crappy code with code that relies on the underlying routines of the OS and does things in the proper Mac way? Of course not. They’ll just replace the old crappy code with new crappy code that will be, once again, a bad imitation of what Mac software is actually supposed to look like. And that new crappy code will just be as difficult to update 8 or 10 years from now, when the next major OS change takes place.

For Mac users, with Microsoft software, I am afraid the story is and always will be the same: “Pay up and smile!”

4 Responses to “Microsoft Office 2008 delayed until first quarter of 2008”

  1. kurisu says:

    I can understand your “C’est la vie” approach to this news, but even though I share your view entirely, I’m still pretty sure that *some* developers in the Mac BU are actually very good. The problem is that the code on which they have to work is crappy, and sometimes the Office for Windows teams are just changing things at the last minute and it’s up to the Mac BU people to make it work on the Mac without breaking the rest…

    MS Office for Windows (and by extent, Office for Mac) is a jenga pile of spaghetti code that can’t be poked anymore. If you change one little thing here, some big thing somewhere else will stop working, and then good luck for tracing the cause/effect relationship…

    The whole Office code base needs to be burnt and started from scratch, with portability in mind, and clean code. But let’s be fair, it’s Microsoft we’re talking about… never gonna happen !!!

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    I am sorry, but there are just too many long-standing problems with Office for Mac for me to believe that any good developer has ever had anything to do with it. If there were any signs of substantial improvement over the years, I might be more optimistic, but considering that Word 2004 is slower on my Mac Pro than Word 5 was on my Mac SE and that Excel 2004 still cannot do font smoothing properly (and these are just two examples), I am afraid I have no faith left in the competence of Microsoft’s Mac engineers.

  3. Lars says:

    As for Adobe, it’d be nice if they’d eventually get round to releasing an Intel version of the Shockwave plug-in. It’s tedious having to run browsers in Rosetta just for that.

  4. Pierre Igot says:

    Well, if Steve Jobs himself can’t get Adobe to fix Flash for the Mac (see iPhone), I don’t know if there is much we can do about it…

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