Saturday, October 25, 2008

Once in a While Microsloth Gets it Right

For those regular readers of this blog, you know my disdain for Microsoft’s products. We are forced to use ‘em, because they are the ones which come shipped with our computers fresh from the store.

Usually, Microsloth uses you and me to fix their buggy software – they release their products full of issues, and as we complain, they resolve them and issue patches and fixes.

Today I finally got around to upgrading my MS-Office 2003 to MS-Office 2007. I haven’t been using the software long enough to discover any bugs – but I’m sure I will. However, so far, I am very impressed with a lot of the new gizmos they’ve tossed into this package.

They have considered usability for a change, and made the whole string of applications (Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel, Access, etc.) more slick and easier to use. As I type this in Word, I can see how many words I have typed up to this point (168 for the curious). This functionality has always been in Word, but usually you have to go up to the toolbar, and add the option. This looks built-in to the bottom info bar – clever.

I also like the use of big icons to clearly show you what is what. Gone are the old days of having to squint at teeny-tiny icons, eventually having to hover over them to see the pop-up bubble help descriptions.

Maybe this was Bill Gates last true test of fate – getting at least one software application released without major fatal flaws?

Though Office 2008 has been out for a while and Office 2009 will no doubt come out soon too, so my “new” upgrade to 2007 has already gone through a slew of updates and fixes. After the install today, Windows Update downloaded over 300MBs of updates for Office 2007.

Still, Office 2007 makes up in large part for the Windows Vista mess-up. Vista should never have been released when it was. It wasn’t ready, and it was still full of many major bugs. Microsoft even admitted this in a sense, when they allowed people who bought new computers with the Windows Vista platform pre-installed to “downgrade” to Windows XP free of charge.

We the public, shouldn’t be the unpaid quality assurance team to Microsloth. And maybe they’ve finally learned that over there, because Office 2007 is a very big improvement over previous installs.

There weren’t any long, meaningless and horrid error messages, I didn’t get any missing file messages upon reboot, and when I opened the applications, they actually ran without crashing either themselves, or other applications.

Still, this is only day one of the new install – so anything can happen. But let’s hope Microsloth finally got this one right.

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