Microsoft on Visual Basic for Applications for Microsoft Office for Mac

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft
May 13th, 2008 • 9:16 am

It really is quite unbelievable. And yet it’s true:

Microsoft on Tuesday announced it would restore support for Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) to Microsoft Office for Mac, a direct result of complaints from users about the removal of the suite’s cross-platform automation functionality.

Is Microsoft really telling us that, with all the resources that they have at their disposal to analyse their users’ needs to death (they always brag about how responsive they are to their users’ needs, after all), they really did not get the message about VBA on the Mac until now? What a bunch of hypocrites.

Since the only thing that appears to matter in Microsoft-land is money, one gathers that the latest version of Microsoft Office for Mac has not been selling too well at all. It would hardly be surprising. The new version brings almost no improvements, introduces a whole new slew of bugs (as per usual), performs miserably even on the most recent hardware, and is crippled compared to its predecessor. What’s not to like?

(That said, this official press release sounds like Office 2008 is selling pretty well. So who knows what the real story is.)

I cannot count the number of Mac users that I have talked to in recent times who have spontaneously inquired about iWork ’08 and asked me, without prompting, what I thought of this alternative. Not many of them are VBA users, however. They are just disillusioned and profoundly frustrated with Microsoft Office in general.

Clearly there is a lot of dissatisfaction out there. (In other words: It’s not just me.) But if Microsoft really think that they can remedy the situation by restoring VBA… in the next version of Office, i.e. probably another 3 or 4 years down the road (talk about a “direct result” of the complaints), they are still seriously deluded. The damage has been done, and it will take more, much more than that to repair it.

Microsoft has been selling us crappy products for many years, and there is only so much abuse that Mac users are willing to take. iWork ’08 is a realistic alternative—often a much better one—in many situations, and it’s an Apple product. Every current Microsoft Office user on the Mac owes it to himself to at least explore this alternative.

As for Microsoft, if they really want to have any hope to remaining a key player on the Mac, they’ll need to add many, many more resources and work very hard not just to restore VBA, but also to fix and improve Office in many other areas as well. I seriously doubt that they will ever get that message.

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