Customer Review

247 of 282 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Excel 2011 is Unintuitive and Unstable, October 28, 2010
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This review is from: Office for Mac 2011 Home & Student -Family Pack (3Macs/3User) [Old Version] (Software)
I just purchased this as an upgrade to MS Office 2004. First thing I did was to open a spreadsheet from Excel 2004. It gave me an error of "File error: data may have been lost.", which it does every time I open up this file. I'm not sure yet why it is having this problem.

So, then I proceeded to create my very first new spreadsheet with Excel 2011. I've locked up Excel twice so far--my first hour of use and it has already crashed two times!

I have, btw, a brand new 27" iMac with the latest Snow Leopard on it--this is as good as it gets for an OS and machine platform to run it on.

I've also noticed it getting confused several times and garbling text elements on charts when I do something to the data format elsewhere on the chart. Even if it did work, the UI is convoluted and confusing. I could probably get used to it in time, but there's nothing elegant about how they've constructed their UI.

There are also some obvious bugs that (as a software developer myself) I am amazed could make it into a released version of software. When you enter a label for a data series on a chart, for instance, Excel automatically adds double quotes around it the next time you edit it. If you then edit the contents inside the double quotes again, Excel will add an additional pair of double quotes around the first pair that it added, and then proceed to display your chart with visible quotes around all of the values! This is the sort of bug that should have been found during unit testing by whatever developer was writing that feature. If one of my software developers were to miss something like that, I'd be annoyed--and if my system test team missed something like that for a release, I'd want to assemble a new team.

I had much higher hopes for this--thinking that it at least shouldn't be nearly as buggy as older versions. Yet so far, it's far less stable than Excel 2004 (I haven't tested Word and PP yet). It's just not a quality piece of software.
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Tracked by 6 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 30 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 4, 2010 2:33:12 AM PDT
Xinxin Liu says:
Dear Christopher,

Thanks for sharing your comments on Excel for Mac 2011! At Microsoft and MacBU, we are committed to incorporating customers feedback to continuously improve our products in future updates and releases. Your detailed feedback will definitely help us ship better products.

To better understand the issues you ran into, I'd like to solicit a little more information. For the file loading issue, it's likely the file is somehow corrupted or in a deprecated file format. Excel attempts to repair it and some data may get lost during the repair process. If you re-save this file to xlsx or xlsb, the error dialog should go away the next time when you open it. If the error dialog persists after the re-save, could you please post a thread on the Excel forum ( and we will thoroughly investigate it? As for the 2 crashes, is it possible that you can share with us some detailed steps that led to the crashing point on the forum? These steps will greatly help us find the root cause of these crashes and get them fixed in future updates. I've also forwarded the chart bug to our chart team - we will take proper actions on it.

Again, thanks for using our products and providing feedback. If you see other issues, please don't hesitate to shoot me an email.

XinXin Liu
Test Lead for Mac Excel
Macintosh Business Unit, Microsoft

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2010 10:37:00 AM PDT
Hzleyes says:
While I am not sure what happened to Christopher, I am quite surprised that Mr. Liu has responded with such speed. To me, that is a good sign as a Mac user. Thank you Mr. Liu.

Posted on Nov 5, 2010 9:31:55 PM PDT
Abester says:
There's always OpenOffice for Mac..... and it's free. Just use your favorite search engine and search on "OpenOffice for Mac". I've been using OpenOffice on Mac and PC for years. In many cases, it's more "compatible" than that defacto standard commercial product that people are still paying for.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 6, 2010 7:19:49 AM PDT

I really appreciate your response. It certainly shows a willingness to do better. Thank you.

For the first issue, of opening an Excel 2004 file, the problem was only with opening that file as I had stated. If I then re-save it as an Excel 2011 file, subsequent opens do not produce an error message.

As for the crashes (I managed to crash Excel 8 times that day, trying to work on the same workbook), The process I went through was to

1) Open a tab-delimited file that I had created with some software I wrote. It had a header line and about 50 columns, but only about 7 rows of data.

2) Proceeded to create a number of chart sheets, each with a line graph of one or more data elements from the source data sheet.

3) For each of these chart sheets, the crashes tended to occur when I selected the Data source option to use the data column as one of my axis.

Though it also crashed at other points as well. I could probably give you a copy of the workbook to use for re-creating the crashes (basically, you'd just have to copy it and then re-create a couple of the chart sheets the way I had them, and that would presumably cause it to crash).

You can contact me directly through the email link on my CV:

Posted on Nov 6, 2010 12:52:24 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 6, 2010 12:55:08 PM PDT
Star Bux says:
According to the back of the box, it is illegal to use this software
in a revenue generating activity... Does that mean if you use this
product to write a book, it will be illegal for you to seek publication
in a commercial way? Would Microsoft demand royalties, or a prison
sentence, if your book gets published?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 7, 2010 7:41:34 PM PST
Xinxin Liu says:
Hi Chris, thanks a lot for getting back to me.

It's glad to see that the first issue had gone away after the re-save. I will follow up with you offline to get a repro case of this crash.

XinXin Liu
Test Lead for Mac Excel
Macintosh Business Unit, Microsoft

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 8, 2010 5:39:05 PM PST
How in the world is this the top rated review of Microsoft Office 2011. Sure it's not the best software, but it's not 1-star software, and this review is complaining about a glitch in excel without even mentioning the other two programs. I'd really like to know who is voting this as a helpful review and why?

Posted on Nov 8, 2010 6:03:00 PM PST
Also, on Excel 2011, if you have cell comments that don't fit in the displayed comment area, there is no way that I can see to scroll to see the rest of them. Back with Excel 2011, at least you could scroll to view or edit all of the comments posted for a cell. Also, when you DO try to view comments for a cell that are long on Excel 2011, it seems like it tries to display it past the bottom of the comment window, so what you get is the rest of your spreadsheet obscured with disappearing text.

Even saving existing spreadsheets is difficult--sometimes it will return an error message that it can't be saved in the exiting (.xls) format, and other times it will allow itself to be saved in that format.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 10, 2010 2:13:21 PM PST
I voted for it as helpful. Excel is the lead dog in the pack, and if it crashes when dealing with user-gen data, it's helpful to know it. If it adds quotes weirdly and repeatedly, that's a usability issue. The reason it's helpful? It means I'll postpone my purchase until 1 or 2 point upgrades have gone by, or perhaps consider a different product. As much as I admire the diligence MS team coming here and asking for more info, I think it is pretty lame when Amazon review pages read like bug-testing dialogues.

Posted on Nov 11, 2010 2:48:52 PM PST
I voted for this as helpful because it parallels my experience with Word 2011, which crashed twice in the first 90 minutes that I used it. I simply cannot afford losses, and so I have reverted back to Word 2004.
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