Customer Reviews: Office for Mac 2011 Home & Student -Family Pack (3Macs/3User) [Old Version]
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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.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 26, 2010
Platform: Mac Disc|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
UPDATE: Outlook is now included! Yay! Thank you Microsoft! It does cost extra, but that is to be expected.

I work with legal documents that have stringent formatting requirements, so for a word processing program on my Mac to actually help me it has to preserve formatting across conversions. This does. I'm not a huge power user. I'm a disabled former lawyer who helps out with cases from my former law office when my old colleagues are extra busy or want help for a new associate. I am nearly always working with documents that have been formatted by someone else, and it's my job to return those documents with that formatting intact.

Which just doesn't happen with most Mac versions of Windows programs.

Which is why I run a copy of Windows on the Mac Mini I have in the living room and a Windows-based copy of Office in that partition.

But I'm not going to need to switch off my laptop to help revise a brief or check a motion. I can copy captions and have them come out the way they went in. My son has had similar issues converting his schoolwork back and forth, and he, too, is much happier with the new version of Office.

The updated User Interface is interactive without being annoying, and the programs feel refreshed without having a steep learning curve price to pay for the improvements. Excel now has a mini-graphing feature that can show you patterns in your data in real time. Powerpoint is cool. It's not something I've used professionally, ever, but it really is easy and fun to put together presentations.

The price is not cheap, even for three licenses. I would deduct half a star, if I could, for price gouging. But if you need true compatibility with work or school pcs running appropriately licensed Office programs, this is a much easier and less expensive way to get it than installing Windows on your Mac and running the pc version of the program. I'm using the Home and Student version, which works just fine for what I need (word processing and light number crunching for my "work" as a classroom parent at my kid's school and occasionally helping my old colleagues). If you are looking to use the program commercially, you should get the business version.
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on November 3, 2010
I like the interface, a combination of the Window's ribon I hate, but have learned to deal with and the menus I know so well. I like the ribbon on this version more than the floating tool bars in Excel 2004. This is the good.

However within moments of first opening Excel 2011 I went to see if the most annoying bug from Excel 2004 had been fixed. When you try editing a formula in a conditional format in Excel 2004, you cannot use the cursor keys for editing. All cursor keys do is to add cell references. My work around is to have a text editor handy so I can copy the formula, edit in the text editor, and past back into Excel. One would think that after 8 years, Microsoft would have had lots of opportunity to fix this. Not so. Same bug.

I need to keep an Excel 2003 for Windows format for most clients, so I set the default file format to be Excel 97-2004. I also tend to use a lot of conditional formats. But when I saved a file with those same conditional formats I created in Excel 2004 (that is I didn't add any new conditions), Excel 2011 added sheet references in the format formulas, which is not recognized by older versions. When I enabled strict backward compatibility, Excel removed those references, but changed every cell reference to the first row. I spent 2 hours fixing this in the 2004 version of Excel.

Try copying an existing worksheet to a new worksheet. Works just fine. Well, unless you have a filter in that existing worksheet, and you highlight the whole (filtered) worksheet, then copy and try pasting into a new worksheet. Excell 2011 appears to freeze, until it finally tells you it ran out of memory.

I have some fairly large worksheet with conditional formats which use formulas. No where near the limit of Excel 2004's capability, but enough that it slows a recalculation down to about one second. That same spreadsheet takes Excel 2011 nearly a minute to recalculate. Funny when Excel 2004 is running in a virtual machine emulating a PowerPC, and Excel 2011 is running in native Intel mode.

I can't speak to the other applications in the suite, I tend to use iWork for editing and presentation, but I live in Excel, and I've had to remove Excel 2011 in order to be able to get anything done.

Excel Mac for 2011 still seems to be missing some of the events in the Windows version, like Worksheet_FollowHyperlink(). Either that, or macros are really flaky, haven't really tested that aspect just yet.

I've seen Alpha software which was more reliable. I can't believe Microsoft actually released this version. Apparently they don't have any power users in their test cadre.

If Microsoft gets their act together and fixes these defects, it might be a decent upgrade. But if you do anything more than the basics (which Apple Numbers does just fine), stick to the 2004 version. Amazon still sells it.
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on October 28, 2010
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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VINE VOICEon October 26, 2010
Platform: Mac Disc|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
1) Decide whether you want Home & Student or Home & Business - the Business version includes Outlook and 1 year of technical support while the Student version does not include Outlook and has only 90 days of technical support. Interestingly, the Student version installs the 75.1MB Outlook application but simply doesn't permit it to be run until an upgrade code is entered. The upgrade cost, as of this writing, is $279.99. If you want Outlook and your older Entourage from the 2008 edition is not acceptable, do not purchase the Home and Student version. Go immediately for the Home/Business iteration as the current upgrade price is not reasonable.

2) Decide whether you want the Family Pack. I have found this necessary even though I'm the only user of MS Office in my family. Let's say that I launch Excel on my desktop and then walk away. Later I launch Word on my laptop. Excel is upstairs doing nothing but both computers are connected on my wifi network. Unless I remember to turn off my wifi on the laptop before launching, I won't be able to keep Word running. The two systems will notice MS Office running in two places and will force one to quit. I therefore recommend the 3 license approach.

3) My personal bias with MS Office: I tend to use Apple Pages, Numbers, and Keynote for my personal work. All three run faster and smoother than their MS equivalents, which I have to use due to so many of my clients using them. If I have 4 or 5 MS Word documents open, Word randomly reorders them as I click from application to application - the window that was on top is now somewhere in the middle. Further, if I then wish to move one of the Word documents, and I've been using another application, the click-through doesn't work, so I have to click to select the application, wait for MS Word to ....slowly.... respond, then move the window. More importantly, Word has never followed the Apple standard interface protocol, so I can't have one Word window open and another app's window open and go back and forth without ALL of Word's open windows coming to the front each time, often covering the other app's window that I wanted to see simultaneously. And of course there's the occasional MS Word crash for no particular reason -- reminiscent of the very early days of the Mac when one would expect applications to crash from time to time, but now quite rare but for the MS Office product. So that's all been true with MS Office for the Mac 2008.

Moving on to Home and Student 2011 ...

Installation took about 10 minutes. I'm running a 2x2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon Mac Pro. Word & Excel are both smaller in size than their previous iterations -- a sign of improved programming efficiency, I believe. The first launch of Word required the font menu to be updated. I was then presented with a What's New screen that promotes real time collaboration through the posting and sharing of files online. Web App support is incorporated into the 2011 iteration of Office.

I immediately noticed that Microsoft has finally fixed all the bugs I described above. The mouse click-through now works correctly. The window handling now works correctly. And the applications have become far more responsive and smooth - they no longer work like ports of a PC standard. 9 point text is more legible in Excel where cursors have undergone some modest adjustments and where there have been slight changes in presentation to make the entire application more Mac-like in nature.

I don't use 95% of the power inherent in Word or Excel. I use Word for its fundamental word processing capabilities and Excel for its most basic spreadsheet capabilities - though occasionally I'll create a graph from my datapoints - so what I want is efficiency, speed, and responsiveness, not a lot of glitz and new command capabilities. With Day 1 now behind me, I can easily say that the new version of Office provides what I kept hoping the incremental upgrades of Office 2008 would provide - a set of applications that run as if they were designed for the Mac. The upgrade is well worth the investment.

I'll be back with updates after I've run with this for a while to let you know if I've had any of the odd and random crashes that I experienced with Office 2008. So far, so good!

Addendum: I've discovered a fairly significant bug in Excel. Take a spreadsheet with many rows and divide the s/s in half so that you can scroll an upper and lower section independently. Then, in the upper half, select a cell and type "Sum(", then move your mouse up so that you can select a portion of the column above to be summed. The entire window will then jump all the way to the end of the column, many rows down, preventing you from selecting the few cells you wanted to select. This bug presents itself in several instances, this being one example. I generally expect a bug or two in released software but I've deducted a star from the overall rating for several reasons. First, Microsoft does not provide a method for users to report bugs - at least not a method that they make easy to find. Second, of all the software manufacturers out there, Microsoft should be able to do a good job with alpha and beta testing such that a bug of this nature can be eliminated prior to release of the product. No crashes or lost data yet, so we definitely have an improvement over the last release, but perhaps a short wait is called for until MS releases their first revision.

Addendum 2: Just a few days after I posted my bug above, Microsoft released version 14.01 of Office 2011. The update fixes the bug. MS gets kudos for immediately repairing a software problem and releasing an appropriate update. The packaged versions will likely still include the original software for a month or so, but the upgrade can be quickly downloaded and installed by simply going to the Help menu and checking for updates.
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on July 13, 2011
I bought this product in mid-June 2011 because I must use Office for compatibility with my law firm, clients and various federal agencies (I'm a lawyer). I was happy using Office 2004 for the Mac, but in view of Lion's upcoming release and Apple's rumored discontinuation of Rosetta support, I thought it was finally time to move on to a newer version.'s been 30 days so far and I am debating uninstalling Office 2011 because the cons seriously outweigh the pros.

* * *
Excel - haven't used enough to rate it. Opened some spreadsheets I created in 2004 and they worked OK.

* * *
Powerpoint - gets 3 stars. Perfectly serviceable, but the very slight improvements were not worth paying to upgrade from 2004.

Pros: Seem to work pretty much the same as 2004 but haven't tried any fancy functionality yet. E.g., I've only worked on basic slides (no timing or fancy transitions) and I have been pleased with the improved connector line functionality and the auto-alignment. It also seems relatively stable - I use it every day and it hasn't crashed yet in approximately 40 hours of use. No problems swapping files back and forth with other users who are using 2003/2007 for Windows or 2004/2008 for Mac.

Cons: Do not like the ribbon. Now there are menu bars, toolbars, and a ribbon?! It wouldn't be so bad if I could customize what is on the ribbon but as usual it is cluttered with a bunch of tools I never use, and I have to hunt in the menus for what I want to do. Some functionality seems to be missing, e.g., I can no longer freeform crop, but instead have to play around with the "top" and "height" settings in the menu, which makes it take about 3x as long as the old way of being able to crop each side by itself.

* * *
Word - gets ZERO stars. It is MASSIVELY unstable.

Pros: Ummm....I can still type documents part of the time? I use Word all day long, and so far I haven't noticed anything that seems better or improved as compared to Word 2004. No problems swapping files back and forth with other users who are using 2003/2007 for Windows or 2004/2008 for Mac.

(1) Crashes, crashes, & then it crashes some more. Technically, I get the SBOD and then after I get tired of it going away (I waited once and it did not go away after 10 minutes) I Force Quit. Major causes of the SBOD are (a) opening the program...yes, that's right, clicking on that cute little "W" icon, (b) using the copy & paste tools, and (c) typing. I can't believe this was an actual product release and not a Beta version. This instability is maddening - for example, today, EVERY time I use the paste command Word has crashed. Every freaking time. At least 15 times, which is why I've finally been inspired to write this review. It doesn't matter if I use CTRL-V or the toolbar icon. This is a serious pain because I use the program for work, and I'm always copying and pasting to move text, put in case citations, etc.

(2) Running out of memory...when I don't get the SBOD, I get a "memory full" error that prevents me from pasting.

(3) Something's wrong with Find & Replace - it starts out okay but won't get all the way through the document and then I have to go back and set it all up again from the menu.

(4) The Insert Symbol function doesn't work properly. I remember in Word 2004 you could select the symbol and hit insert. In Word 2011 you click on the symbol, get the "error" sound, right click on the symbol, hit copy, and then hit paste...and then SBOD!!!

(5) The Ribbon. See above comments for Powerpoint. Thank goodness you can hide it.

Note that my review is based on my cumulative post-purchase usage of about 160 hours or so on my Mac Mini (2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 8GB RAM) and my MB Air (1.6 Intel Core 2 Duo with 4 GB RAM). I know these are not the most powerful machines but they are both 2010 models and work fine with other programs. You might get better mileage with an i5 or i7 chip, but seriously, should you *need* that much power to type a letter?
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on July 22, 2011
Just upgraded to Mac OS X Lion, and this software DOES work flawlessly with the new OS. I had read that others have had problems, but we have intel iMacs and Mac Minis in our offices and it works great on all of them.

We were using the windows version of office 2010 with parallells on our Macs, but the dedicated Mac version of Office is much more user friendly and elegant.
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on June 6, 2011
Love the convenience of amazon's new software digital download store. Can download again on other computers or if my drive ever crashes (amazon stores the software license so you can always download again). Also price is a little cheaper than buying the boxed version.
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on November 4, 2010
I had heard that there were stability problems with Office 2008 for Mac, so I have been putting off the big switch, and continuing to use Office 2004. When Office 2011 for Mac came out, I assumed that Microsoft would have solved the stability problems of 2008, so I purchased it. However, I have been sadly disappointed, experiencing sudden crashes and lost work with Word 2011. In order to meet my deadlines, I have now switched back to 2004, and I will continue using 2004 until someone convinces me that Word 2011 has been stabilized. Be warned...
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on November 17, 2010
I use track changes, comments, and a lot of heavy formatting. I upgraded from an earlier version of word, and have have serious stability problems. I got the most recent updates (it is mid-November 2010), and these are still persistent problems. For example, I try to switch full screen, and it crashes every once in awhile. I try to cut and past, and it crashes every once in awhile. I try to save, and it crashes every once in awhile.

Yes, there is autorecovery, but that's never ideal. In the few days I've had it, the thing has shut down at least 10 times. I'm now going to revert back to the older version until things are worked out.

EDIT: It is April 2011, and Microsoft has updated the program. I have to say, I doubted it could be possible, but the stability of Word has gotten far, far worse. Now I get crashes on almost any major cut and paste in track changes. For people who do serious editing and need to keep track of who is going what in the document (or want to see what they've changed), this is a terrible program. I am now prone to save ever minute, and even still, I end up losing work product due to auto-recovery not being quite up to day.

EDIT2: It is July 2011. More updates, but it still has the same problems. For serious editors, who use track changes and styles, you need to save constantly because it will crash on you.
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