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Microsoft Office for Mac, Home & Student Edition

This would be a very short review if I had to hold to the "if you can't say anything nice" rule. About the only "nice" thing I can say is that this version is cheaper than the full featured product. This includes slightly crippled versions of Word, Excel, Messenger and Powerpoint.

I wouldn't even consider this at all if I didn't need it once in a great while. Most of the time I get by quite fine with Open Office (Native version now available) and Google Docs. It's rare that I need anything more, but unfortunately it does come up from time to time. So..

The installation was one of the most annoying ever, constantly requiring pushing "Continue" buttons. It's not that there were choices I needed to make; no, they just wanted to make sure I read stuff. Well, I read it, but I don't remember any of it so it couldn't have had much importance. The installation finished up by putting all its icons in my Dock — who asked you do do that, Microsoft? I clicked "Remove from Dock" immediately. Once for each product. Stupid Microsoft.

Next, it needed to do a "critical" update. OK, but the Installer just hung, doing nothing. I looked up http://support.microsoft.com/kb/952331/en-us and found this:

You may receive the following error message when you try to install this update:

   "Microsoft Office 2008 Update" doesn't understand the <event sysodisA> message


This issue may occur if any Office for Mac applications are running when you try to install the update.

Yeah? Well, I'm not running in Office for Mac applications and I don't see that message anyway. I shut everything down, rebooted and tried again before starting up anything. Same hang. I looked at it with Activity Monitor and it wasn't doing much.. on a hunch I did a "Hide others" and moved the Installer window to the left. Ayup, there was that "doesn't understand the <event sysodisA>" message. Hey, Microsoft: I'm NOT running any Office apps and it's not great programming to let your error box hide behind the main window. Don't you test this stuff? Anyway, I clicked "OK" and the update installed.

Oops, I have to say something nice again: it loads up faster than Open Office. Not much faster, just a second or two, but faster. Not that this matters: I'll never use this unless I absolutely have to. That's partly because I just plain dislike Microsoft, but also it's because I'm used to Open Office and Google Docs. We like what we are used to: I tried to get my wife, a long time Word user, to try Open Office. She hated it. Clumsy, slow, hard to use. Well, that's how I feel about Office. Neither of us is "right". Well, I'm right to dislike them on principle..

If you read the reviews at Amazon, you'll see that normal Word users mostly aren't crazy about this either. Oh, Microsoft, can't you do anything right?

Microsoft Office for Mac, Home & Student EditionTony Lawrence 2008-11-25 Rating: 3.0

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© Anthony Lawrence

Tue Nov 25 18:39:36 2008: 4814   BruceGarlock

I know your frustration with the updates - they consider the Updater program itself a MS Office application, and you have to shut that down, before the updater will continue. You think they would have been smart enough to kill the application that checks for updates, if that is a requirement. People who are not computer geeks probably never update, and get stuck in this loop. My wife did on her Mac. You could 'hear' the frustration in how she asked me to help her :-)

I pretty much use this for Excel, and only because I use it as a go between for Apple's iWork, Numbers app. If you ever have to work in spreadsheets, Apple's approach with Numbers just makes so much more sense, the first time you use it. I hope the next version does better with Excel import/export, and then I can dump MS Office for good.

- Bruce

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