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Beware early adopter stability issues and problems with product activation
on November 12, 2010
Office 2011 has a number of new, very useful features, and is a refinement over the previous edition of Office for Mac. The program is cleaner in appearance and much faster to load. There are two glaring issues, however, that would lead me to STRONGLY advise against purchase of the software at this time. First, there are widespread issues with product activation. Office 2011 comes with a new "activation PIN" that must be activated by the sale merchant (similar to how a giftcard will not work unless they scan it at the register). You are then required to enter the PIN on Microsoft's website, at which point (if all has gone well), you will receive your product ID (CD key) that you then use to install the software. In theory, the process should be painless---but Microsoft has been having issues nationwide with activation of the PIN (even if you pay for the software) and I had to deal with about a week's worth of hassles and e-mails/phone calls between Microsoft and my vendor before I could get my legitimately bought-and-paid-for software installable on my computer.
Second, despite its flashiness and cosmetic improvements, this software is just not ready for prime-time in terms of stability. This is an essential point for anyone that works on important (or long) documents--you do not want to risk using this product, because it has not been adequately beta-tested or debugged, and the development team and Microsoft have not provided its customers the courtesy nor respect in ensuring data loss is minimized when using their software. The previous version of Office for Mac has been out for a while and has had hundreds if not thousands of megabytes worth of updates and patches over the years, which makes it relatively reliable to work on. Prior to purchasing Office 2011, you should be aware that there are significant stability issues with MS Excel that make even window-rendering painfully (and reproducibly) difficult (this is on a well-equipped Core i7 Macbook Pro)--where the screen stutters and ghosts when you try and resize documents, for example. MS Word has a glaring bug in it that causes it to, at times, abruptly quit, or worse, convert lengthy documents into asterisks without warning (or option for recovery). Microsoft has been notified of these issues but it is unclear whether or if they are working on solutions. I would recommend sticking with the previous iteration of MS Office, wait for at least 6-8 months prior to purchasing this, or use something alternatively that has an established track record of stability, ease-of-use, and features, such as Apple's iWork.