19 February 2007

Office stuff; Tutorials

Microsoft Office 2007

officeI see a lot of complacency inside the OpenOffice.org team regarding the new look and feel of Microsoft Office 2007. The general tendency is to disregard is as something user will reject, wanting something more familiar and choose OOo as the "safe" choice. Is hard to argue for or against without facts, so I used the opportunity of an MSO 2007 deploy to observe the users (my own Guinea Pigs) and draw my own opinion based on this.

Premise: I had recently to upgrade some of my desktop users with both hardware and software, going from Windows 98 + Microsoft Office 2000 to Windows XP + Microsoft Office 2007. Of course I tried to push OpenOffice.org, but the reply I got from the decision maker was something along the lines: "I saw OpenOffice and it is a fart" and he went for MSO 2007 Professional, top of the line, full-price (why he thinks that is a long separate talk, we can discuss with another opportunity).

Users: My users are, I think, a very good sample, they use various incarnations of Office for a long time, at least 7-10 years but at a very basic level, mostly Word and Excel for simple things (no charts, mail merge, templates or such "advanced" stuff). They may use PowerPoint only to see a .pps joke received in the mail and nobody ever used Access (note: Outlook is forbidden in my network).

Reaction At the first look, they reacted exactly as expected, ranging from "can't you make look like the old one?" to "I can't do anything with it, I have to re-learn everything I knew".
The very next day, their opinion changed dramatically, to "wow! this new Office has a lot of new functions, I never saw those in the old one" and to "I said is hard to use but in fact is much easier".

Conclusion: I see two possible conclusions from this:

  • Microsoft is up to something here and they have a really better, more usable interface
  • we are completely brainwashed by Microsoft and without comment will accept anything they throw at us.

Of course I did my own testing of the interface in the 5 minutes or so spent learning how to change a couple of defaults (.doc instead of .docx as file format for compatibility with the rest of the users and with the rest of the world and A4 as paper size for compatibility with the printers) but I keep from expressing my opinion as I, as a long-time member of the OpenOffice.org community am far of being unbiased and also far from being a regular user.

What OpenOffice.org people do about this? For now nothing, I saw a core developer saying "we can easily implement this Ribbon interface if we want" and this is all.


Easy to notice, another week passed and no tutorial on my blog, probably you saw it coming (not only because I was busy with deploying MS Office and observing the users). And I am not sure I want to continue without help from my readers, I really need raw materials and motivation.

To not spam the aggregators, I will add in the comments how the readers can help me with this.


  1. So here is what I need: I have a number of photos I want to use as raw materials in some tutorials, but I am explicitly forbidden to put them online. I want to put some pressure: if some readers would send an email (nice, polite, personal, inventive but not spam and not rude, maybe the option will change I I will be allowed to use the photos. So if you are with me, write (in English or Romanian) to dioanad at the server @gmail.com.

  2. Lobby e-mail sent. :D

    As for Ribbon and "unfortunately" f Oo.org, it brings out for the common users a lot of functionalities they didn't even know existed. It's not so much an inovation in bling, as it is in ergonomy and usability.