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Customer Review

97 of 113 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars BETA product at premium price, September 16, 2011
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This review is from: Office Mac Home & Student 2011 - 1MAC/1User (Disc Version) (Software)
Having worked with Office 2003 for PC since beta, Word, Excel and PP 2011 feels more refined and a bit more cohesive...barely.

Word, Excel and PP are usable, and in some ways a touch more refined than Office 2003 for PC...perhaps that is just the Mac itself. Overall 2011 is, with only small variations, the same product as 2003. If you require Microsoft specific, detailed functionality then you are likely used to Microsoft and will get something that is all too familiar. If you are not a power user then you might want to try Pages and Numbers from Apple which will cause you much less pain for your effort and feel more like Mac products.

As of the latest updates at the time of this review there appears to be a memory leak in Word that causes it to freeze and requires a Force Quit. When restarted, the "recovered" document is 2 or 3 manual saves behind the actual saved document. So if this happens to you, check your saved version against the "recovered" version to see which is more accurate before assuming that the recovered file is doing you any favors. Having worked with Microsoft products for too many years I instinctively "save" my work with every 2 or 3 taking a breath between thoughts.

They have incorporated some of the Mac programming standards and ignored others. This doesn't make the software bad but it does provide a user experience that unintuitive at times for those used to a Mac workflow.

Formatting in Word appears to work more consistently, though Microsoft's anticipation of user intent is still very annoying and generally seen with copy/paste, especially when bullets or numbering is involved. I generally turn off as much of this as possible and just update the formatting manually.

As I said before, Office 2011 is only a slight variation on 2003. All the apps in 2003 required some coding to mitigate the clunkiness of some routines....2011 has only improved mildly on this. Running a Microsoft application on a Mac highlights Microsoft's inability to design a user experience that is based on the "user"...especially different users. Microsoft's UI is typical of a developer/Microsoft centric view of functionality. The Ribbon menu system exemplifies this best of all. It is well organized, like a big walk-in closet that rigidly holds ALL of your belongings. But one shouldn't have to dig through a walk-in closet to get the TV remote control every time they wish to change channels. Microsoft, through the Ribbon, has forced their single use perception of organization on a product that has much more functionality than they seem to understand. Most users have routines specific to their jobs and therefore use only a subset of the menu items. The Ribbon design is unintelligent (not context sensitive) and would be better suited as a tool for aiding in the creation of user/task oriented menus than for actual day to day work. The Ribbon is overkill for the casual user and a tiresome pain in the arse for power users. I had read online that the Ribbon design was result of a legal effort to thwart knockoffs. That makes sense as those that copy usually copy only the good parts...I don't think Microsoft should ever fear others copying their Ribbon mistake.

VBA code that i have used for years with 2003 has transferred over nicely, though there are issues running the code on docs created with 2003. Docs created with 2011 haven't displayed any major issues.

Having only used the entire 2011 suite for a few weeks, I have not been able to put Excel and PP through any in-depth testing. I have used XLS files created in 2003 that contain tons of complex formulas and so far have seen no issues...though I have not tested any files yet that contain more rows than one should reasonably use in a spread sheet. Also, I have not tested the pivot table functionality. I read where someone was complaining about Pivot tables in 2011, don't remember details, but if you are using large amounts of data with a Pivot table you should seriously look into dumping the data to SQL Server or at least Access and not expect the Microsoft Pivot table to function like a full blown BI app.

If you are a long time Microsoft product user then you know that they have not refined as much as they have repackaged over the past 15 years or so. I was very excited about the release of Office 2007 because I had identified numerous things in Office 2003 that could easily be improved upon, then I actually used it...reality can suck at times. Word and Excel are probably the 2 most powerful office products on the market. Instead of refining, improving and innovating on a solid functionality that was released over 10 years ago Microsoft has chosen to just tart up the old product hoping that no one notices the lazy effort. They seemed to have created better products back when their competition was Wordperfect and Lotus 123. Unfortunately they have had very little serious competition for the Office suite since the late 90's. Most newer, web based products are watered down in functionality and fine for casual users. But if your job and tasks are more complex Microsoft Office is still the only game in town....for now. Hopefully Apple's swelling presence will force them to actually work on their Office products, innovate and improve them, not just repackage.

Overall, I can use Word, Excel and PP. I am used to being frustrated with Microsoft products and the 2011 release hasn't yet exceeded my exercized patience. As with all Microsoft products, save and back up your work frequently....Office 2011 doesn't take advantage of Lion's versioning capabilities. I typically work with Word documents that are 100 - 200 pages long, include tables, indexes, cross-references, bullets, numbering, header/footer content, etc. I work with Excel files that at times would be better suited for a database and/or some BI software. There are not a lot of choices on the market when it comes to meeting these types of demands. If this were Microsoft's 2nd or 3rd release I would give them 5 stars and highly anticipate their next efforts. Instead, this is a product that Microsoft started almost 30 years ago, and it leaves me feeling like Chief Dan George's character in The Outlaw Josie Wales when told to "Endeavor to persevere". If only I could attack.

NOTE: I tested Outlook 2011 for several weeks and found it to be completely incompetent. This was a major disappointment to me as I had high hopes for Outlook to have become more solid and refined vs the 8 year old version I was running on my PC. They finally ditched the PST files system (at least on OSX), and searches...when they worked...were very fast. But the folder structure is a bit disjointed and the UI didn't always acurately reflect the folder contents or actions that you selected from the menu. It is very disconcerting when you mail just disappears without the help of David Blaine. It became unresponsive numerous times. I tried Microsoft's steps for rebuilding the file DB but that only lost data....and the tone of the help file seemed to lean toward a fatalist outcome to begin with so there was no comfort there. Outlook 2003 had a useless search functionality if you retained email, notes and tasks to support your work. If your PST file was ever corrupted you would likely lose some something, though finding out what was lost was informed by chance. That said, if you need Outlook, user any other version than couldn't handle the basics without crapping out and losing data. I'm not sure if the product manager for Outlook just didn't give a crap or Microsoft just needed some turd, any turd to put in a box and sell, but Outlook was a waste of my time and a disgraceful code release. Again, for casual users, there are tons of free options and what comes with Lion is more than capable.

UPDATE 10/20/11: Word still crashes often. Manual Saves are a must. I have found macros related to cross-references do not work with files created in Office 2003 compatible format....reformatting doesn't solve the the problem either. My other macros far. And my cross-reference macros are highly specialized, but still there is some incompatibility that screws with the code. The issues with the macros seem to be related to memory management.....I suspect the crashes are related to memory issues as well.

UPDATE 12/02/11: Still no movement by Microsoft to stop the bleeding. CONSTANT memory problems. CONSTANT stream of reports sent to Apple and Microsoft.....though this is obviously not an issue caused by Apple. Word Locks up daily requiring a Force Quit, or it just crashes on its own. The "recovered" file is NEVER as up to date as the last physical save...again, seems to be memory issues. This is THE ONLY application on my Mac that crashes. I have down graded this to 1 star. It is usable as long as you manually save your document after every edit....and you don't mind the forced intermissions...and you can live with some of the other slights it provides. I design software for a living and have worked in IT for many years....this product should be an enormous embarrassment to all those that took it to market. This is obviously still a BETA product at best. With so many great applications being written for Mac you have to wonder if MS does this on purpose. I will continue to use Office because it is the only option at this time. But if you are not REQUIRED to use MS then I suggest you use any other product out there in order to save yourself some headaches.

UPDATE 12/15/11: MS just issued an update. Still having same memory/force quit issues with Word. The "Recovered" document seems to lag behind the last physical save....which at times doesn't work. This continues to be a BETA product. If you have a choice, purchase ANY other product. MS seems to have given up on producing quality controlled software.

UPDATE 05/29/2012: I assume the positive reviews for this product are based on casual usage....again, for that I would recommend or iWorks as one is free and the other is better integrated with OSX. Should you purchase MS Office have Force Quit at the ready for those times when Word refuses to crash and disappear on its own and instead displays the spinning wheel of death. It still locks or crashes completely everyday, generally when performing some copy/paste operation. MS PowerPoint seems to be the most stable out of the office family on Mac. I find it amusing that instead of fixing the current problems MS has elected to instead release a new version soon. I assume that, like bugs that have existed in SQL Server for many years, they they will just propagate old bugs to the new product and hope no one notices. Microsoft's lack of innovation and quality control are quite obvious over the last several years. Perhaps Bill Gates should do some humanitarian work with his own company and either revive it or put it out of its misery. I used to get very excited about new versions of MS products. Now I can't wait to remove them from my computer.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 13, 2011 10:38:58 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 13, 2011 10:39:17 AM PST
Jerry M. says:
As noted in this post, " have to wonder if MS does this on purpose.", I am beyond wondering and convinced that this is in fact the case. MS has the ability to fix their products, but it just doesn't happen. Why would they want any product to run successfully on an Apple?

Posted on Apr 3, 2012 7:55:04 AM PDT
Paul Krupa says:
I bought the three pack in March 2012 for my daughters' and my macs. It included outlook. I don't use outlook. Like the OP I am used to Office apps, mostly Word and Excel. I routinely use them generating numerous drafts and final reports for my investigative work. I have come to appreciate the mac presentation and interface. This product doesn't seem to get it. It feels like the PC version crammed into (poorly) the mac infrastructure. I hated buying yet another version of this software but Apple caused my earlier versions to stop working with the upgrade. I had heard the Mac version was better than the windows version. I disagree. It feels wrong on a mac. I wish MS would spin off office so they would become competitive.
The "suite" concept is rather intrusive. I just wanted word and excel and i get a lot of other junk that I'll never use. I regret my economy to save money by buying the 3 pack home and student suite instead of a la carte student packages. i could have continued with Neo office for myself.

Posted on Nov 12, 2012 3:25:14 PM PST
I appreciate your pragmatic review and updates. I have made it my mission to not buy new Microsoft products, so I'm still using Office 2003 with Parallels on a MAC. That was a pretty solid release. Still, Windows 7 on the MAC or office crashes frequently. Printing is goofy. It is hard to tell who is to blame, Parallels, Office, Windows 7?

I totally understand your perspective on lack of innovation. There are so many fine things you could DO with Office, especially charting, VBA linking to other apps (or perhaps replacing it with Java script), that would keep the Office suite relevant. Instead, they are just milking Bessie until she keels over. And then they go with a new UI that adds virtually no value. I was going to buy it, but why should I cry over the old problems and new ones?
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