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Office for Mac 2011: First look
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TheoCryst
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Feb 11, 2010, 02:26 PM
 
Microsoft has given a first look at Office for Mac 2011. There are tons of new features and perf improvements and stuff, but there's one thing that everyone's going to be talking about:



Yes, that's a ribbon on the top of that window. Let the wailing and gnashing of teeth begin!

Seriously though, the ribbon is pure Cocoa, using all native controls and Core Animation and all the fancy Apple buzzwords you can think of. If you're on a tiny screen, you can collapse it to just the tab bar, or you can hide it altogether. It's actually really nice to work with -- I'd argue its far better than either the Formatting Palette of 2008 or the WinOffice ribbon.

What you don't see in any of these screenshots (but I saw in the screen at the Gizmodo article) is that the old-school menu bar is still around.

Regarding Outlook: it's still coming, still with a 100% Cocoa rewritten UI, and now with a fancy new database that's composed of many tiny files. So Time Machine won't completely back up a 4 gig file because you got one new email. And in all the time I've been dogfooding it, it hasn't spontaneously corrupted itself once (compared to Entourage, which spontaneously corrupts its database about once an hour). Oh, and VBA is back.

Read more at the MacWorld article here.

Any ramblings are entirely my own, and do not represent those of my employers, coworkers, friends, or species
     
Doc HM
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Feb 11, 2010, 02:27 PM
 
Looks like Office may suddenly have become half way decent. Looking forward to trying that out.
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Spheric Harlot
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Feb 11, 2010, 03:00 PM
 
"cocoa" is nice.

I'd maybe even recommend it if it aimed at "standard" though, and used standard Mac interface.

"Better than the old ribbon" is like "at least he's no Dubya".

Nice to see they're trying, though.
     
-Q-
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Feb 11, 2010, 03:42 PM
 
I'll be curious to see how much of Outlook is actually available on the Mac side. There always seems to be some feature or integration missing in Office: Mac that makes the suite a second class citizen compared to the Windows version.

But I'll try and remain open-minded. And the easy import of .PST files is welcome news.
     
turtle777
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Feb 11, 2010, 03:45 PM
 
But is it snappy™ ?

-t
     
besson3c
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Feb 11, 2010, 03:57 PM
 
What does MS plan to do with Entourage once this is out?

Outlook needs to be in feature parity with the Windows version, we've all been bitten by Entourage promising Exchange support and delivering it in a half-baked fashion for years.
     
Art Vandelay
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Feb 11, 2010, 04:00 PM
 
Entourage is dead and being replaced with Outlook for Mac.

Outlook for Mac will be only using EWS for Exchange connections. So, if there are any features that are still only available through MAPI, Outlook for Mac won't have them.
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TheoCryst  (op)
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Feb 11, 2010, 04:22 PM
 
Originally Posted by Art Vandelay View Post
Entourage is dead and being replaced with Outlook for Mac.

Outlook for Mac will be only using EWS for Exchange connections. So, if there are any features that are still only available through MAPI, Outlook for Mac won't have them.
Bingo.

Originally Posted by turtle777
But is it snappy™ ?

-t
I can't give any numbers, but I will say that using 2008 after dogfooding 2011 for a few months is a tedious and frustrating experience.

EDIT: I should say even more tedious and frustrating than before I got used to 2011.

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turtle777
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Feb 11, 2010, 04:27 PM
 
Great. I'm hopeful.

-t
     
Art Vandelay
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Feb 11, 2010, 04:28 PM
 
Am I correct in my observations that Office 2011 is not a complete Cocoa rewrite? From what I've gathered so far... Outlook is a full Cocoa app but the others are just using Cocoa for new features (e.g. the Ribbon).
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bigmig
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Feb 11, 2010, 04:31 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
But is it snappy™ ?

-t
I've heard that the performance on Excel, at least, is much improved.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Feb 11, 2010, 04:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by TheoCryst View Post
I will say that using 2008 after dogfooding 2011 for a few months is […] even more tedious and frustrating than before I got used to 2011.
I'm thrilled.

     
TheoCryst  (op)
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Feb 11, 2010, 05:09 PM
 
Originally Posted by Art Vandelay View Post
Am I correct in my observations that Office 2011 is not a complete Cocoa rewrite? From what I've gathered so far... Outlook is a full Cocoa app but the others are just using Cocoa for new features (e.g. the Ribbon).
Ah, I don't think we've commented on that one yet, sorry. Officially, all I can say is that Outlook and the Ribbon are both Cocoa.

Originally Posted by bigmig
I've heard that the performance on Excel, at least, is much improved.
Indeed. Excel was a huge pain spot in 2008, and has received significant TLC.

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mduell
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Feb 11, 2010, 05:44 PM
 
I'm looking forward to dumping the dysfunctional pig that is Mail.app for my Exchange and IMAP account.
     
P
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Feb 11, 2010, 06:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by Art Vandelay View Post
Am I correct in my observations that Office 2011 is not a complete Cocoa rewrite? From what I've gathered so far... Outlook is a full Cocoa app but the others are just using Cocoa for new features (e.g. the Ribbon).
It's a cross-platform app. Not even Apple uses Objective C for cross-platform apps.

Office uses a common codebase with a small wrapper around it. Obviously the base needs to have a consistent interface to the wrapper on both platforms, and Objective C is mighty uncommon on Windows. Also, significant parts of it are made the way Apple made Quicktime: Translate enough of the API to make it work and include in the package.

I have to wonder about the ribbon, though: The only reason it works decently on Windows is that it makes use of Fitt's law to make an accessible toolbar. If you put it inside the window, that is gone - so why use it at all?
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TheoCryst  (op)
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Feb 11, 2010, 06:43 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Office uses a common codebase with a small wrapper around it. Obviously the base needs to have a consistent interface to the wrapper on both platforms, and Objective C is mighty uncommon on Windows. Also, significant parts of it are made the way Apple made Quicktime: Translate enough of the API to make it work and include in the package.
For the most part, correct. Each app handles its cross-platformness a little differently, with each one porting WinOffice code a little differently. I won't name names, but one app is virtually identical to its WinOffice counterpart save for its UI, and another shares almost nothing, save for its name.

And you are also correct in that none of our apps, even Outlook, is Objective-C from top to bottom. All of them are primarily platform-agnostic C++, with relatively thin native UIs on top.

I have to wonder about the ribbon, though: The only reason it works decently on Windows is that it makes use of Fitt's law to make an accessible toolbar.
Not really. The WinOffice ribbon's tabs are a good 20-30 pixels away from the top of the window (or screen, if you're running maximized). Fitt's Law doesn't really apply, for them or for us. The point of doing it is that it
  • is attached to the window at all times, so you don't need to hunt for the formatting palette
  • is full of conventient large controls, with distinct icons illustrating what they do
  • groups common activities together, in an attempt to improve the workflow of common scenarios

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ibook_steve
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Feb 11, 2010, 08:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
But is it snappy™ ?

-t
+1

At this point, I do not care at all about new Office features anymore. All I want is for performance to be at least, if not better than the Windows equivalent, especially (for me at least) Powerpoint.

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imitchellg5
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Feb 11, 2010, 09:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by ibook_steve View Post
+1

At this point, I do not care at all about new Office features anymore. All I want is for performance to be at least, if not better than the Windows equivalent, especially (for me at least) Powerpoint.

Steve
Exactly. Whenever I (for some reason) open Office 2008, I'm always disturbed by how sluggish and ugly it is.
     
turtle777
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Feb 12, 2010, 09:09 AM
 
I never made the switch to Office 2008.

Missing VBA and sluggishness killed the mere thought of upgrading.

-t
     
P
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Feb 12, 2010, 10:02 AM
 
Originally Posted by TheoCryst View Post
Not really. The WinOffice ribbon's tabs are a good 20-30 pixels away from the top of the window (or screen, if you're running maximized). Fitt's Law doesn't really apply, for them or for us. The point of doing it is that it
  • is attached to the window at all times, so you don't need to hunt for the formatting palette
  • is full of conventient large controls, with distinct icons illustrating what they do
  • groups common activities together, in an attempt to improve the workflow of common scenarios
I think I may have confused the terms. What I call the ribbon is probably the quick access toolbar, which is the one part of the new Office interface that I actually like. E.g. I often use strikethrough text in Excel, which is hidden deep in the Font Properties panel. Now I simply put it on the toolbar.

The tabs, what is probably the ribbon, is... I don't know. I understand why the change from toolbars to the tabs happened - the most annoying thing in Office after Clippy was euthanised was the self-appearing Review toolbar when you opened certain documents - and some of the new buttons make a lot of sense, but some are just confusing. It seems to me that the first few tabs in each app make a lot of sense, but the later ones are progressively worse. The Review tab in Word includes the stuff I expect to see there (changes, tracking, etc) but also the more general spelling, wordcount and so on. In the same way the Data tab in Excel starts out logical with the ODBC stuff, but then there's a bunch of leftovers like row grouping and Solver. Sometimes I think it might be better with more, smaller tabs, because it would aid discoverability.

One thing MS should copy from Apple is the way Spotlight works in System Preferences: Start typing and it highlights relevant buttons. That would do wonders for the tabs.

There are a few things that don't really work, as well. The button to get to the Properties panel of certain groups is 2 mm high on this desktop screen - that has to be some sort of record. Some things also went backwards (it's way harder to make a good chart now, and titles can't be linked to cell content anymore) and others got confusing even if the interface in general improved (conditional formatting with relative cell references drove me up the wall before I figured that it actually did work the same way as always, even if the interface implied something else).

I can't use Office 2008 at home - Excel VB support! - but if 2011 fixes that, I'll upgrade.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Feb 12, 2010, 10:23 AM
 
It seems more like a Word 2011 first look. I'd love to see more, especially Outlook, but it's understandable that MS would want to manage expectations and keep things in-house at this stage.

But I'm looking forward to it. O2k8 is sluggish. Hopefully you guys aren't testing 2011 on 10k rpm or solid state drives for the speed comparisons.
     
pendragon
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Feb 12, 2010, 11:46 AM
 
If not violation of your NDA -

1. Will Outlook support IMAP, POP, or both?
2. Can Outlook import my mail from Mail?
3. Does Outlook have an integrated spam filter as does Mail, or will a third party spam filter be required?
Harv
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moonmonkey
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Feb 13, 2010, 12:13 AM
 
If not violation of your NDA -
How serious are rumours about an iPad version?
     
TheoCryst  (op)
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Feb 13, 2010, 12:17 AM
 
Hmm... do I even have an NDA? Either way, I do know that I like my job very much, so I can't actually answer either of you. Sorry!

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Cold Warrior
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Feb 13, 2010, 01:51 AM
 
Originally Posted by pendragon View Post
1. Will Outlook support IMAP, POP, or both?
2. Can Outlook import my mail from Mail?
Logic can answer where an NDA can't.

1. Outlook for Windows and Entourage both do. It'd be an embarrassing step backwards if it didn't.

2. Entourage imports from Mail. Since email is one of the usual barriers to migrating across clients, it makes sense to continue supporting import from Mail.
     
besson3c
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Feb 13, 2010, 02:34 AM
 
I wouldn't worry about whether Outlook will import from Mail as there are fairly easy ways around that using IMAP as a conduit between clients (even if you are using POP, for whatever reason). I'd be more worried about whether Outlook supports the OS X Address Book, Mail Notes, and other sorts of features and application settings which would make a hypothetical transition a little bumper.
     
imitchellg5
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Feb 13, 2010, 02:55 AM
 
Originally Posted by pendragon View Post
If not violation of your NDA -

1. Will Outlook support IMAP, POP, or both?
2. Can Outlook import my mail from Mail?
3. Does Outlook have an integrated spam filter as does Mail, or will a third party spam filter be required?
Since all of those have been included in Entourage for years, why would they take steps backwards?
     
moonmonkey
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Feb 13, 2010, 05:09 AM
 
Originally Posted by TheoCryst View Post
Hmm... do I even have an NDA? Either way, I do know that I like my job very much, so I can't actually answer either of you. Sorry!
Thanks for the PM, those screen shots of the iPad version look amazing!
     
Spheric Harlot
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Feb 13, 2010, 05:30 AM
 
Originally Posted by imitchellg5 View Post
Since all of those have been included in Entourage for years, why would they take steps backwards?
You're right.

If past experience is anything to go by, Outlook:mac will be able to import mail from Apple's Mail.app, but NOT from Entourage.
     
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Feb 13, 2010, 08:57 AM
 
Originally Posted by moonmonkey View Post
If not violation of your NDA -
How serious are rumours about an iPad version?
Those aren't rumors, MS has said that they're considering it.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
angelmb
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Feb 13, 2010, 10:26 AM
 
Originally Posted by moonmonkey View Post
Thanks for the PM, those screen shots of the iPad version look amazing!
It is very likely that your post was supposed to be another PM as well.
     
tonton
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Feb 13, 2010, 10:57 AM
 
Originally Posted by angelmb View Post
It is very likely that your post was supposed to be another PM as well.
Or a joke. Duh.
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TheoCryst  (op)
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Feb 14, 2010, 08:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by moonmonkey View Post
Thanks for the PM, those screen shots of the iPad version look amazing!
Any time! Honestly, I was afraid that you might be put off by the fact that we drew so much obvious inspiration from Microsoft Bob, but I'm thrilled that you saw the usability this new paradigm brings! I mean, there's a puppy! How awesome is that?

Oh, but since I'm going to be fired now, can I crash on your couch for a while? I don't eat much, and you'll actually get used to the snoring and sleepwalking faster than you'd expect.

Yes people, we are screwing around. No PMs have been exchanged. Chill!

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besson3c
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Feb 14, 2010, 08:57 PM
 
TheoCryst: I'd like to see those iPad pictures too, can you send them to me?
     
turtle777
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Feb 14, 2010, 09:43 PM
 
Originally Posted by moonmonkey View Post
If not violation of your NDA -
How serious are rumours about an iPad version?
I can answer that: the rumors are VERY serious.

There

-t
     
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Feb 14, 2010, 10:04 PM
 
Originally Posted by Art Vandelay View Post
Outlook for Mac will be only using EWS for Exchange connections. So, if there are any features that are still only available through MAPI, Outlook for Mac won't have them.
Utter fail. What the f is wrong with this company?
     
TheoCryst  (op)
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Feb 14, 2010, 11:09 PM
 
Originally Posted by lpkmckenna View Post
Utter fail. What the f is wrong with this company?
From my admittedly limited experience, EWS has been wonderful: it's worlds better than WebDAV, which is what Entourage has historically used (not counting the new Entourage EWS version, of course). Just out of curiosity, what exactly can MAPI do that EWS can't? I don't actually know, as I'm not on the Outlook team.

EDIT: This MSDN article seems to indicate that EWS is not only feature-compatible with MAPI, but is actually the new preferred API for accessing Exchange servers:
MAPI is de-emphasized in Microsoft Exchange 2007 and has been replaced by Exchange Web Services. Exchange Web Services provides the same access to the Exchange store as does MAPI. [...] You will eventually need to redesign applications that you created by using MAPI to use Exchange Web Services.

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besson3c
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Feb 14, 2010, 11:20 PM
 
Thanks for the screenshots Theo! They look really good, although I'd like to know why you guys choose a zebra to provide instructional help?
     
TheoCryst  (op)
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Feb 14, 2010, 11:33 PM
 
Dammit besson, that was confidential!

Well, the zebra's out of the bag now, so I guess I'll share. Introducing, for the first time anywhere, Office for the iPad!


(Yes, it's a joke. Game time: can you identify where the toolbars in this screen came from?)

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besson3c
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Feb 14, 2010, 11:49 PM
 
I have a feature request for you Theo,

Writing documents in any app can be painfully boring. How about giving that Zebra a little intelligence and making him swear at people, just to keep things interested? E.g.:

"How do I make words bold"

Zebra: "I don't know, how do you stop being an asshole?"

"How do I center words within a 2 inch margin with a gutter and mail merge into Excel with these settings?"

Zebra: "**** you"
     
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Feb 15, 2010, 12:08 AM
 
Originally Posted by TheoCryst View Post
(Yes, it's a joke. Game time: can you identify where the toolbars in this screen came from?)
WordPerfect.
     
lpkmckenna
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Feb 15, 2010, 12:11 AM
 
Originally Posted by TheoCryst View Post
From my admittedly limited experience, EWS has been wonderful: it's worlds better than WebDAV, which is what Entourage has historically used (not counting the new Entourage EWS version, of course). Just out of curiosity, what exactly can MAPI do that EWS can't? I don't actually know, as I'm not on the Outlook team.

EDIT: This MSDN article seems to indicate that EWS is not only feature-compatible with MAPI, but is actually the new preferred API for accessing Exchange servers:
Wow, I guess ignoring MS for years has left me confused. Uh ... good work Outlook team!
     
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Feb 15, 2010, 08:03 AM
 
(toolbars in the screenshot above)

Originally Posted by lpkmckenna View Post
WordPerfect.
While I never used WordPerfect for Mac, they do look very similar to Word 6 (Mac). The Format Painter button in particular is a feature that I don't think WP had. The rounded buttons imply a Mac version and the multiple Undos mean that it isn't Word 5. Could be Word 98, I guess, but there's a few things in the toolbar arrangement that look odd.
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voodoo
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Feb 15, 2010, 08:27 AM
 
If Office can run fast and smooth on the Mac, then this will be a worthwhile upgrade. On a *dual* core, multi-GHz Intel machine with GBs of RAM, Office apps like Word manage to twist the computer to its knees and thus to a crawl.

Looking at it happening is surreal.
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Spheric Harlot
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Feb 15, 2010, 10:09 AM
 
First Thing is to Switch off Active grammar checking. Why on earth that is enabled by default is beyond my comprehension. Makes a world of difference.

It does follow the idiotic Microsoft doctrine of "it ain't a feature if it ain't turned on", though. Not that this makes it any less mind-boggling.
     
kmkkid
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Feb 15, 2010, 10:30 AM
 
Just out of curiosity; with the majority of people now using widescreen monitors, wouldn't it make more sense to have the ribbon at the side of the window instead of taking up precious vertical space?



Is there a shortcut to hide it, or even auto-hide it?
     
cgc
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Feb 15, 2010, 11:32 AM
 
I think I'll stick with Office 2008 for Mac which I love (and i don't feel it's slow/unresponsive like some have said).
     
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Feb 15, 2010, 11:50 AM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
First Thing is to Switch off Active grammar checking. Why on earth that is enabled by default is beyond my comprehension. Makes a world of difference.

It does follow the idiotic Microsoft doctrine of "it ain't a feature if it ain't turned on", though. Not that this makes it any less mind-boggling.
It's called "discoverability" - people wouldn't notice the feature if it wasn't on by default. I also disable it and autocorrect and some of the error-detecting stuff in Excel.

Originally Posted by kmkkid View Post
Just out of curiosity; with the majority of people now using widescreen monitors, wouldn't it make more sense to have the ribbon at the side of the window instead of taking up precious vertical space?
Yes, it probably would - assuming that it used Fitt's law, anyway. Left side, please - I put both the Dock and Taskbar on the right.

Originally Posted by kmkkid View Post


Is there a shortcut to hide it, or even auto-hide it?
You can set it to auto-hide, yes: Right-click and select "Minimize the ribbon", and it becomes only the tab titles until you click one title. Then it shows that tab, and autohides once you click any button. Sort of like a menu, but the options are placed horizontally.

Originally Posted by cgc View Post
I think I'll stick with Office 2008 for Mac which I love (and i don't feel it's slow/unresponsive like some have said).
That's a fine option if you don't need VBA. I do.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
ibook_steve
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Feb 15, 2010, 12:40 PM
 
Originally Posted by cgc View Post
I think I'll stick with Office 2008 for Mac which I love (and i don't feel it's slow/unresponsive like some have said).
You, my friend, must be the only one.

Steve
Celebrating 10 years and 4000 posts on MacNN!
     
TheoCryst  (op)
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Feb 15, 2010, 01:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by P
While I never used WordPerfect for Mac, they do look very similar to Word 6 (Mac).
Ding ding! We have a winner. It's Word 6, the most hated version of Word ever (and the only version to fully share a codebase with Windows).

Originally Posted by kmkkid
Just out of curiosity; with the majority of people now using widescreen monitors, wouldn't it make more sense to have the ribbon at the side of the window instead of taking up precious vertical space?
That was already tried: it's called the Formatting Palette.

Is there a shortcut to hide it, or even auto-hide it?
Yes, you can minimize it down to just the tabs with a single click -- even faster than you can in WinOffice.

Originally Posted by ibook_steve
You, my friend, must be the only one.

Steve
Indeed.

Any ramblings are entirely my own, and do not represent those of my employers, coworkers, friends, or species
     
 
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