For the first day and a half, the download would not work. They seem to have worked that out finally. Got it, installed it. My impression:
- It now looks very similar to Office for Windows
- They finally made it work with Microsoft’s cloud service
- A few new bells & whistles, like a new presenter view in PowerPoint, were added
Maybe there’s more of significance, but I can’t find it, not yet at least. It’s more or less an Office365-compatible version with a more Microsoft-ish Ribbon, and not much more.
But hey, it’s now working with the cloud! Like, only years after Google and Apple have been doing it. But you get to use Microsoft’s version, which is even more difficult to use than Apple’s!
In fact, it has made the save and open dialogs much more annoying. You get the cloud dialog first, and have to click “On my Mac” to get into the dialog box to save the document on your own computer. As if it’s impossible to do what most other cloud services do, which is to create a sync folder on your computer, or allow you to change the settings so that you don’t have to work extra to do what you want to do.
Not to mention that the cloud connection takes time to establish each and every time you open it, making you wait—something I am fairly sure will not improve with the final version of the suite. And from what I can tell, you won’t be able to change that.
There are other bugs which one expects with betas like this—Word’s font menu is fracked up and will not jump to the font you want with keystrokes, and in Excel, simple cell selection is buggy and sometimes gives you the spinning cursor for as long as a minute. Those I presume they will fix in the coming months. However, too much else will obviously not be fixed.
What they did not do: fix the annoying and pointless perennial screw-ups in the software. Such as, why is there no “Default” button in the paragraph dialog box? It makes zero sense. It exists in the Windows version. Why not in the Mac version?
Why are page numbers in headers & footers still fracked up? You used to be able to just add the page number anywhere, in live text. For the past several versions, it was changed to be more like the Windows version, which is not as good as the old way of doing it on the Mac. Worse, the new Mac version is still different from Windows, and in a horribly crappy way: the auto page number fields are separate from the rest of the header text, in a way that is totally screwed up and easy to make the document look horrible.
The preferences pane is also still horrible, with maybe 1/10th of the options available in the Windows version. In fact, they seem to have even removed some things, like the way to get the ruler to stop showing character measurements instead of inches.
The Find and Replace interface sucks even worse than before, and the ^p and ^t in searches never works like it used to in Word 2003. What used to be the best and most powerful find and replace engine I ever saw is now annoyingly useless to me.
MLA citations are still fubar. First, you get that annoying fugly-blue bold “Works Cited” title, and the rest of the citation is just as screwed up. For as long as the MLA citation engine has existed in Word, it never produces a Works Cited list in MLA format. Seriously. More than just the non-centered title. There’s no hanging indent. Data points like the date don’t format right unless you type it in just right, making the point of a reference engine mostly pointless—I still find it much simpler just to use my MLA handbook and type it by hand. And it still seems to be stuck on the 6th edition style, which has been out of date for many years now. Hell, titles are underlined instead of in italics, which was changed at least two editions ago! Really, how hard can it be to get that right? Obviously, someone at Microsoft did a piss-poor job six years ago and nobody has bothered to change it since then.
Automated lists are still aggravatingly idiotic. Want to make an MLA-style outline? Fuck you! We’re giving you a maddening morass of crap instead! First, we change the font to Calibri 14 point (14??), then change the spacing to 1.15, and just to fuck with you, add 24 points of before-paragraph spacing! We’ll make every indent a smaller font size, and just to tick you off, we’ll have the I-A-1 correct, and then switch to a non-sequitur a), in italics to boot! And to change this bizarre styling which no one wants to use EVER, you have to navigate the multi-level list styles, which are frustratingly unclear and buggy! You’re welcome!!!
When I made a list at the end of an MLA-styled essay, before the Works Cited list, it not only made what I selected into a list… but then added two extra empty list points, both centered, one below the rest of the list, and one on the works cited page! And neither formatted like the rest of the list. WTF? Yes, there is a long-standing bug that still hasn’t been fixed in which formatting before a break will spill over between the boundary… but in this case, I had an extra blank line between the list and the break, did not select that extra line, and the bug manifested not when making a numbered list, but instead when I selected the new multi-level style. In short, lists still have all the bugs they used to have, and now a few new ones, too!
In fact, almost every single annoyance from Word 2008 and 2011 seems to still be there, a few even worse than before.
I have seen similar comments in articles about the update: “Great! A new update! I hope they have fixed [perennial failing]. … oh, wait, it looks like they didn’t.”
What Microsoft should have done is said, “Okay, let’s focus on making Word for Mac it’s own product, just like we used to, and concentrate first on making it work better and more smoothly than ever before. Let’s get rid of all the bugs and irritations, and see if we can make it do what users want, without extra hassle.”
They clearly did nothing of the sort.
Instead, it’s as if Microsoft completely ignored user feedback, ignored obvious flaws, and their only mission was to make the Mac version an even more badly bastardized junk imitation of the Windows version. Office for the Mac went downhill ever since they corrupted the entire app by trying pointlessly to do that. It used to be snappy and well-designed. Now it’s a crappy morass of blah.
I’ll still use it when I have to (more often than I would like), but am increasingly moving away. I use Keynote for presentations, Google Docs for word processing (in particular with my classes), and, well, I use Excel simply because everything else I’ve found is even crappier.
But hey, new app icons!