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Help us out here: What's the POINT of Microsoft Office 2013?
The Register ^ | 30 January 2013 | Tim Anderson

Posted on 01/30/2013 11:03:20 AM PST by ShadowAce

Analysis It was Verity Stob who identified the key challenge for Microsoft Office upgrades: "Name just ONE feature introduced into Word in the 21st century that the weak-willed upgrader regularly uses," asked the antiquarian.

Fourteen revisions since the first Office that it may not be easy, because spell checking, grammar checking, wiggly underlines, paragraph styles and even Track Changes have been in Word since way back when.

With Office 2013 now officially available, is there anything in it actually worth upgrading for?

As was the case with its predecessors, the latest Office upgrade is driven less by actual appetite from consumers for new features as by compatibility factors. Will anything but the latest or at least a recent version run properly on Windows 7 or 8? Will it play nicely with SharePoint? Will users be able to read emailed documents, and create documents that are intelligible to others?

All of these are valid concerns, and a look back at the history of Office shows that Microsoft’s focus has often been on things other than productivity features that benefit the user, though these do occasionally appear.

Office was invented in 1990 as “The Microsoft Office for Windows”, a bundle for Windows 3.0 that comprised Word, Excel and PowerPoint. There was little integration between the applications, but the bundle was a powerful tool against competitors. Maybe Harvard Graphics was better for presentation graphics, but why bother if PowerPoint was “free” with Word and Excel? Competitors fought back, with Lotus SmartSuite and even Borland Office (WordPerfect, Quattro Pro and Paradox), but Microsoft’s marketing and the fact that the products were decent kept it ahead.

Office was also a testbed for, and a beneficiary of, tricky Windows technologies like Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) and COM automation, which meant you could embed documents from one application into another, and write applications that control Office to read and generate documents. The fact that Microsoft wrote the operating system did the Office team no harm.

Office 97 was a strong release, but began a decade of little innovation in Microsoft's suite.
Office 97 was a strong release, but
began a decade of little innovation in
Microsoft's suite.

That said, it took Microsoft many years to properly integrate Office applications. Office 97, pushed out at the end of that year, was a big release. This was the first time a common macro language, Visual Basic for Applications, was in place across all the main applications. This inevitably caused headaches for WordBasic developers.

Office 97 also introduced the Office Assistant – or Clippy - famous for interjecting helpless one liners such as: “It looks like you’re writing a letter” when you were doing no such thing. History has not been kind to Clippy, now a symbol of Microsoft’s inability to work out what will really help users, but he does illustrate a key point: that even 16 years ago, Microsoft understood that its key challenge was to make software easier to use, especially since Office already had more features than most users ever discovered. Unfortunately Clippy was just too irritating and too often wrong, especially since many of his speeches are modal dialogs.

 Here is Clippy, ever-friendly source of bad advice.
Here is Clippy, ever-friendly source of bad advice.

After Office 97, the suite stagnated for a decade and the antiquary was gleeful. What was new in Office 2000, Office XP and Office 2003? Clippy retired. Office activation anti-piracy measures arrived. The Multiple Document Interface, where multiple documents exist in a single application frame, was abandoned. Microsoft also tried to persuade us that Smart Tags, a way of embedding custom actions into documents, were a Really Big Deal. They were not. Of course there were improvements and even new applications (InfoPath appeared in Office 2003) but the team was coasting.

A change has come

Office 2007, on the other hand, was astonishing. Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky oversaw the removal of traditional pull-down menus from most Office applications, replaced by a fat contextual toolbar called the Office Ribbon or the Fluent UI (user interface).

Opinions vary on its effectiveness. The ribbon makes more features visible (though plenty more are hidden), but occupies more screen space than the old menus and requires some adjustment from users familiar with the old UI. Office sold as strongly as ever though, so commercially it worked meaning Sinofsky ascended to the role of Windows 7 and 8 chief and president of Microsoft’s Windows group.

Office 2007 also brought in new and controversial default document formats, based on XML. Office Open XML was eventually standardised by ISO, a process that was opposed by advocates of OpenDocument, an alternative XML standard used by OpenOffice.

Microsoft made a lot of noise about Office Open XML at the time, and has made very little since, which may be evidence that the company’s main goal was to tick a standards box for its customers in government departments. Nevertheless, the new format has advantages, especially for programmatic document processing, and some features of SharePoint require it.

The moment Microsoft realised Office and Windows could divorce

There was nothing so radical in the Office 2010 client applications, unless you count 64-bit versions that Microsoft warned against installing - some macros no longer work - but what did arrive was Office Web Apps, a feature of SharePoint 2010 that enables document creation and editing in the browser.

The functionality of Office Web Apps is tiny compared to what is in the desktop applications, but the significance is huge. Microsoft has recognised that Windows and Office alone is no longer enough.

Wheely quite good

That point brings us back to Office 2013. The story told to the press is this is the touch-friendly version of Office, though in reality it takes more than spaced-out ribbon icons to make an application work well on a tablet. Still, it is a start. Microsoft has also created a completely new tablet version of OneNote, called OneNote MX, which has an innovative wheel control and shows that the Office team is thinking about what Office for tablets should look like.

The Office Ribbon, introduced in Office 2007, is controversial but sales have been good.

The Office Ribbon, introduced in Office 2007, is controversial but sales have been good.

There is also a bit more cloud in Office 2013, which hooks into SkyDrive so users are steered towards cloud storage. The advantage is that documents will be available across all devices.

Every Office seems to bring new annoyances though, and Office 2013 conforms to the rule. Start a new document in Office 2007 or 2010, type something, and hit Save. You get a Save dialog where you can type a document name and hit Enter. Do the same in Office 2013, and you get a huge Save As page, where you now have to click Browse before you get to the point where you can type a filename. That is more work, not less. Fortunately, you can turn off this behaviour in options.

There is another odd thing about Office 2013. Why is it so washed-out in appearance? The reason, we conjecture, is that the Office team got the “Content before Chrome” memo, which is meant to show off your content by having the application controls recede into the background. Sounds good, but this has not been thought through. If you are hunting through a million icons on the Office Ribbon, having them recede into the background is no benefit.

We will get used to it, and on the plus side there are some clever new features. Excel 2013 has a Recommended Charts feature that is brilliant when it comes up with a sensible suggestion, which is quite often in my experience.

The most radical change in Office 2013 is not its default save location or a slightly more touch-friendly ribbon, but rather its new developer model. Apps for Office are HTML pages which run either alongside documents (Task Pane Apps) or embedded within them (Content Apps). In addition, Outlook Mail apps are similar to Task Pane Apps but appear alongside emails. A JavaScript library lets your app communicate with the current document, but all the code lives on the server. “Installation” is via an XML manifest which includes the App URL.

This is the third major change to Office development, following Visual Basic for Applications in 1997 and Visual Studio Tools for Office in 2003.

Microsoft’s thinking here is that in a world of diverse clients, add-ins that depend on local runtimes are a mistake. In principle, an App for Office can work in an Office Web App or in a hypothetical tablet version of Office as well as on Windows or Mac. In practice though, the only App for Office that currently works both on the web and in desktop Office is an Excel Content App. Further, Microsoft’s initial release of Apps for Office will be hard to deploy other than in highly controlled environments where the presence of Office 2013 can be guaranteed.

The difficulty for Microsoft is that the better it makes Office as a cross-device, cloud-centric product, the less need there is for the full-fat desktop client. SharePoint, on the other hand, continues to look like a strategic product, both for internal deployment and in the form of Office 365.

I have been using Office 2013 since its first public preview. It works as well as ever, but for an individual user there is little that is compelling versus Office 2010 other than working a bit better on a Windows 8 tablet.

The big difference this time? Office 2013 represents a change of direction for the suite. It’s a change that makes sense provided Microsoft has the guts to deliver decent versions for Apple iOS and Google Android, and provided it has the pace of development to quickly to fill the many gaps in Apps for Office. ®


TOPICS: Computers/Internet
KEYWORDS: office; productivity

1 posted on 01/30/2013 11:03:43 AM PST by ShadowAce
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To: rdb3; Calvinist_Dark_Lord; Salo; JosephW; Only1choice____Freedom; amigatec; stylin_geek; ...

2 posted on 01/30/2013 11:04:35 AM PST by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: AdmSmith; Big Giant Head; grey_whiskers; Brandybux; dfwright; Bikkuri; Dacula; BuddaBudd; mbj; ...

3 posted on 01/30/2013 11:05:04 AM PST by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: ShadowAce
OpenOffice.org has reached the point where it is all I ever use outside of work.

I see no reason to have MS Office for person use anymore.

4 posted on 01/30/2013 11:06:01 AM PST by E. Pluribus Unum (TYRANNY: When the people fear the politicians. LIBERTY: When the politicians fear the people.)
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To: ShadowAce
Where's that picture of Clippy saying: "It looks like you are writing a suicide note..."

/johnny

5 posted on 01/30/2013 11:06:34 AM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: JRandomFreeper

6 posted on 01/30/2013 11:08:00 AM PST by E. Pluribus Unum (TYRANNY: When the people fear the politicians. LIBERTY: When the politicians fear the people.)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

Heck—I don’t even use it for business use either. LibreOffice does everything I need it to do.


7 posted on 01/30/2013 11:08:45 AM PST by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: ShadowAce
Help us out here: What's the POINT of Microsoft Office 2013?

Make money.

8 posted on 01/30/2013 11:09:07 AM PST by DustyMoment (Congress - another name for anti-American criminals!!)
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To: ShadowAce

It’s the first step toward a tablet world.


9 posted on 01/30/2013 11:15:16 AM PST by Erik Latranyi (When religions have to beg the gov't for a waiver, we are already under socialism.)
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To: ShadowAce
"Help us out here: What's the POINT of Microsoft Office 2013?"

let's see.... to make Microsoft more money from another useless 'upgrade'?

10 posted on 01/30/2013 11:15:44 AM PST by Mr. K (There are lies, damned lies, statistics, and democrat talking points.)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

I despise OpenOffice.

It can’t save a document in RTF format without screwing up the formatting so badly, it looks like a team of deranged two-year-olds got hold of it.

Some of the keyboard shortcuts don’t work the way I expect. (Did Microsoft patent things like “F12” for Save As?) It took me multiple tries to figure out how to get Freeze Panes to actually work. Ugh.

I use Office at work, a customer word processor called Scrivener for writing, and Open Office as little as possible. In fact I’m probably going to break down and buy a copy of Office for my personal use soon.


11 posted on 01/30/2013 11:17:06 AM PST by JenB
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

What’s the point. MS wants to charge by the mouse click and the key press. Predictable revenue stream.


12 posted on 01/30/2013 11:17:23 AM PST by ImJustAnotherOkie (zerogottago)
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To: ShadowAce

Upgrades and new Office packages are the “work insurance” projects for human factors ‘experts’, ‘knowledgeable’ programmers and project leaders.

Supposed efforts to make them easier to use really only succeed in frustrating the accomplished user even more and pissing them off even more. These ‘upgraders’ don’t know their a$$ from a hole in the ground because they never have to actually use their own creations and see how it pisses everyone off. I mean what is the big damned deal about porting pictures from Powerpoint, say, into Word, or Excell and the reverse. Some graphics work, a lot don’t - or you can’t do sh!t with them....absolute frigging idiots.

Finally, I do not, repeat DO NOT want to be cautioned, asked, or reported-to about every damned mouse button I push. Give it up for Cripe’s sake why don’t you. If I could meet any of you, I’d bust you in the choppers!


13 posted on 01/30/2013 11:18:37 AM PST by Gaffer
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To: ShadowAce
My brother asked me for help opening a Word document that his version of Word wouldn't open. I used OpenOffice, and it opened right up.

Personally, for most of my writing and editing, I still use vi.

/johnny

14 posted on 01/30/2013 11:19:02 AM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

OpenOffice.org has reached the point where it is all I ever use outside of work.

I see no reason to have MS Office for person use anymore.

Agree!


15 posted on 01/30/2013 11:19:37 AM PST by Valpal1
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To: ShadowAce

Sounds good to me! Saves you money, updates automatically, and you can have it on 5 devices. Unless you work for a maker of wonky software, such as Apple, why wouldn’t you want it?

I’m downloading the trial in the next couple of days.


16 posted on 01/30/2013 11:24:24 AM PST by livius
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To: ShadowAce

Make MS more money?


17 posted on 01/30/2013 11:28:54 AM PST by philetus (Keep doing what you always do and you'll eventually get what you deserve)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
Where's that picture of Clippy saying:

Looks like you're writing your opus on Free Republic. Would you like some help with that?"

18 posted on 01/30/2013 11:33:46 AM PST by Night Hides Not (The Tea Party was the earthquake, and Chick Fil A the tsunami...100's of aftershocks to come.)
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To: ShadowAce

I’m still trying to figure out why Apple released the Iphone 5. Jobs is probably rolling over in his grave.


19 posted on 01/30/2013 11:35:20 AM PST by bigtoona
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To: ShadowAce

We use one the later versions of Office at work. (2007 I think)

I bring up a page similar to the one in the article. And when I want to print the page I go up to the ‘ribbon’ and click on..click on... where is that ‘Print icon’?
Ok, I hit CTRL ‘P’.

Hate it, hate it.


20 posted on 01/30/2013 11:36:28 AM PST by Vinnie (A)
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To: ShadowAce
What's the point of any new Microsoft Software?

There are only two:

  1. Make more money for Microshaft.
  2. Chew up memory and force you to upgrade so reason #1 comes into play.

FWIW, I'm still using a 1997 version of Office. Should the time come that the new OS won't support it, then I'd suggest you get Oracle's Open Office package. It is a free download and works almost as well. Some people say better, but since I am used to Office '97, I'll just say almost as well.
21 posted on 01/30/2013 12:05:06 PM PST by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: ShadowAce

I’m still using ‘97, so.....

(In fact, I actually went out and PURCHASED a copy of ‘97 recently rather than use the new dreck.)


22 posted on 01/30/2013 12:12:33 PM PST by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
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To: ShadowAce

I use OpenOffice and Office 2007, I do find that doing large runs of address labels is easier for me is with Office 2007.


23 posted on 01/30/2013 12:13:39 PM PST by knife6375 (US Navy Veteran)
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To: JRandomFreeper

“Personally, for most of my writing and editing, I still use vi.
/johnny “

Oh! I’m sorry for your loss.

Sincerely,
Emacs user :)

Really, you use Vi over Vim? That’s hard-core.

I’ve been meaning to learn the Vim keystrokes to use in a Vim mode for Emacs. (The default Emacs key commands are terrible.) There are so many of them but I imagine after using Vi/Vim for years it would seem like second nature.


24 posted on 01/30/2013 12:14:12 PM PST by PastorBooks
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

LOLMAO! THAT’s funny! Never saw that before.


25 posted on 01/30/2013 12:48:57 PM PST by carriage_hill (AR-10s & AR-15s are the 21st Century's Muskets. The 2nd Amendment is the First Human Right.)
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To: ShadowAce

When you can get it for $10 through the Home Use Program, it’s well worth it.


26 posted on 01/30/2013 1:02:28 PM PST by RightFighter (It was all for nothing.)
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To: ShadowAce; All
AND WHO THE F%%%!!! DECIDED TO CHANGE THE INTERFACE TO ALL OF THE APPS?

Bill Gates ought to have to pay out of his own pocket for the lost productivity that everyone who had to relearn how to use Excel and Word had to go through because they changed a perfectly good and well known interface for no discernible reason at all. D@mn whoever made that decision.

27 posted on 01/30/2013 1:16:56 PM PST by Hardastarboard (The Liberal ruling class hates me. The feeling is mutual.)
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To: Vinnie

I hate it too!! The old toolbar worked great. You could find what you needed, when you needed it. The 2007 toolbar just sucks!


28 posted on 01/30/2013 1:25:42 PM PST by Colorado Doug (Now I know how the Indians felt to be sold out for a few beads and trinkets)
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To: ShadowAce

I cut my teeth on the Univac 1050-II Data Processing System, that the U.S. Air Force was utilizing for their Warehouse Supply System, in the early ‘70’s.

When I bought my Lenovo, (I ordered one without a camera), I had Office ‘07 put on the machine, because it was part of the deal price. I have always used Rough Draft (.rtf/.txt) for all of my writing needs, and to keep more internal space for my finished products, and not for bloatware/software. Yet, I figured, in case some publisher sent me something, I would be able to ‘read’ it. I do not use Excel, because I do all of my financial doings, in pen and ink, in separate ‘record’ books, as I have been doing for over 40 years. I don’t use any turbowhatzit tax programs, for the same reasons. I do not use PowerPoint. I only use I.E., when I have to look at something my retired school secretary wants me to see on the school board website, which is not Firefox, Opera, Safari-friendly. I used my Kodak digital cameras, when I was making my YouTube videos (backburner due to regional V.A. business), which I will, again soon, until I have to look at Fujifilm’s versions, since they bought the patents.

I bought this Lenovo with Win 7, just to stay ahed of the eventual upgrades. I saw Win 8, no thanks. I’m not upgrading Office, and do have the most current Rough Draft version loaded. I think Win 7 will have as long a life as XP.


29 posted on 01/30/2013 1:52:25 PM PST by Terry L Smith
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To: ShadowAce
LibreOffice does everything I need it to do.

Indeed.



30 posted on 01/30/2013 1:53:14 PM PST by rdb3 (We're all going to get what only some of us deserve...)
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To: ShadowAce

I still abhor using Office 2010. Since I don’t use it everyday, I find myself wasting so much time and effort looking for things that were easy to find in Office 2007.


31 posted on 01/30/2013 3:24:08 PM PST by Betis70 ("Leading from Behind" gets your Ambassador killed)
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To: ShadowAce

Same here, although i use OpenOffice still as i like the page border LO took away.


32 posted on 01/30/2013 3:56:45 PM PST by daniel1212 (Come to the Lord Jesus as a contrite damned+destitute sinner, trust Him to save you, then live 4 Him)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

Just be forewarned that during a period when I had Office 2007 and downloaded Open Office.org just simply to see what it was all about, a few days later both Office 2007 and Open Office.org were disabled. Coincidence? I think not.


33 posted on 01/30/2013 4:03:06 PM PST by lbryce (BHO:"Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds by way Oppenheiner at Trinity NM)
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To: lbryce
Just be forewarned that during a period when I had Office 2007 and downloaded Open Office.org just simply to see what it was all about, a few days later both Office 2007 and Open Office.org were disabled.

Post hoc, ergo propter hoc logical fallacy.

34 posted on 01/30/2013 5:33:55 PM PST by E. Pluribus Unum (TYRANNY: When the people fear the politicians. LIBERTY: When the politicians fear the people.)
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To: ShadowAce

I use Excel Word and PP constantly at work, the new version suck.

It’s gotten harder and harder to be productive, all the new wiz-bang features get in my way, I want to process data, put it in a report and get back to work.

Now I spend all my time figuring out HOW to do what I want.


35 posted on 01/30/2013 5:46:00 PM PST by JMJJR ( Newspeak is the official language of Oceania)
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To: ShadowAce

IF it is anything like Windows 8, it will suck!! Really, really suck!!


36 posted on 01/30/2013 8:06:14 PM PST by KosmicKitty (WARNING: Hormonally crazed woman ahead!!)
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To: ShadowAce
In my home I standardizes on Office 2003 and abhor anything beyond. On PC has 2007 and I find it impossible to move from one to the other and back - drives me nuts. All the menus were changed.
37 posted on 01/31/2013 7:04:01 AM PST by Cheerio (Barry Hussein Soetoro-0bama=The Complete Destruction of American Capitalism)
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To: PastorBooks; JRandomFreeper
Really, you use Vi over Vim? That’s hard-core.

I’ve been meaning to learn the Vim keystrokes to use in a Vim mode for Emacs. (The default Emacs key commands are terrible.) There are so many of them but I imagine after using Vi/Vim for years it would seem like second nature.

Most folx mean 'vim', when they say 'vi'. If you're running a moderately recent version of Linux, you probably don't actually even have 'vi' installed.

Personally, I really love vi(m) when I need to clean up text files. The macro functionality is freaking awesome.

38 posted on 01/31/2013 4:16:53 PM PST by zeugma (Those of us who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living.)
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To: zeugma
After doing 'vi /usr/bin/vi' and looking at the binary, it looks like this system is actually running vim, but that's close enough to vi.

Of course it's ok to use a text editor to look at (and edit) binary files (even itself). Real men and cooks can do that.

/johnny

39 posted on 01/31/2013 4:23:26 PM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: JRandomFreeper
"Of course it's ok to use a text editor to look at (and edit) binary files (even itself). Real men and cooks can do that."

Real ProgrammersReal Programmers

http://xkcd.com/378/

40 posted on 02/01/2013 1:23:29 AM PST by PastorBooks
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

Same here.

Office 2007 ticked me off royally - what used to take one or two clicks now entailed four or five. And instead of knowing where they were instinctively from long use, I had to root around in sub menus to find out where it went.

I grew up on Lotus and Wizzywig, so was pretty fluent. Now, ptah!


41 posted on 02/01/2013 1:31:20 AM PST by P.O.E. (Pray for America)
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To: ShadowAce
In spite of whatever reviews get written, I've learned to just expect every new version of MS Office and Windows to be less useful than the previous version, less user friendly, and for several critical applications and tons of VBA macros to just quit working.

Oh, you don't need those 15 lines of code anymore -- we've got a 43-page work-around!!!

42 posted on 02/01/2013 1:57:21 AM PST by meadsjn
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