David Pogue on Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft
October 22nd, 2010 • 9:08 am

As Betalogue readers know, I have been writing about Microsoft’s products for the Mac and especially about Microsoft Word for many years now. And generally speaking I have had nothing but bad things to say about the software: it’s slow, it’s full of bugs, it’s unreliable, and it’s a pain to use.

One of the most puzzling aspects of all this, to me at least, has always been the apparent inability of the mainstream Mac media to write anything that at least partially reflects my own impression of Microsoft’s software for the Mac. Macworld, in particular, usually has nothing but good things to say about the software, which I simply cannot understand. Do they really not see all the bugs? All the crappiness? Do they actually test the software?

Sadly, the latest Macworld review of Word for Mac 2011 is not different. I do not own Office 2011 for Mac yet, but, based on my many years of experience with Word and with the work of the MacBU at Microsoft, I simply cannot believe that Word 2011 is much better than its predecessors. But I am not surprised that Macworld has once again published a glowing review of the product. I don’t know if it’s because they are simply blind and use unqualified reviewers or because they have some kind of tacit agreement with Microsoft in exchange for advertising support, but I don’t expect to get an objective review of Microsoft’s products for the Mac from Macworld.

And the situation, until now at least, has been pretty much the same with other mainstream media outlets.

Imagine my surprise then, when I read this blog post by David Pogue for the New York Times yesterday:

Office for Mac Isn’t an Improvement

It’s not a review, but it’s a scathing blog post, whose conclusion is largely unequivocal:

Now, it could be that I’m a power user, and that my expectations are way out of the mainstream. (It could also be that everybody has favorite nooks and crannies, and will find broken features of their own.)
In the meantime, it’s sad to see such unpolished work from Microsoft’s Mac team. Looks like they had their eye on the big-ticket items—and simply left the smaller cookies to crumble.

I too consider myself a power user, but I don’t think my expectations are “way out of the mainstream.” They are simply a condensed version of the expectations of most Mac users. I have been offering tech support to a great number of Mac users over the years, and inevitably when it comes to Microsoft Word, they ask me things like “Why does it do this?” or “How can I prevent it from doing that?” And my answers are invariably: “Because it’s Microsoft” and “Not much. You just have to live with it.” Most people do live with these flaws and bugs, but they still find the experience rather frustrating and lately they have been asking me a lot about iWork and Pages…

As for me, as you know, I try to avoid using Word for Mac as much as possible. But sometimes I have no choice. And when I have to use it, I alternate between cursing and head shaking for the entire duration of my work, because I know from experience that the situation is hopeless and I still have to use the damn thing for my work.

So when I read David Pogue’s post, which comes from a mainstream media outlet and from a long-time and respected technology columnist, all I could think was: “At last.”

Now, it will take many more of these before the great tide of uncritical writing about Microsoft’s products for Mac in the mainstream finally turns, but it’s a start. If you want to know more about how “unpolished” Microsoft’s products for Mac are, just check out my own posts on Microsoft products or do a search for “Microsoft” on this blog.

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