Friday, August 3, 2007

A Mac User Rants

I love my Mac.

I've owned four computers in my life, all of them Macs. I love the design, the ease of use, and the idea that I'm not a slave to the clunky software and frequent glitches that plague machines running Windows. I know how to use a PC, of course, and often have to do so when using machines other than my own, but I don't see myself ever buying one. It's not just a matter of liking the Mac; I have a visceral aversion to Microsoft. I just do.

Nevertheless, I'm not hardcore enough to forgo Microsoft Office. I had the Mac Works suite years ago, and found it problematic. I've heard there is a new, better Mac suite out there, but Office is convenient, as so many of my students, colleagues, and professional contacts are PC users. Office makes it easy for us to share work, and that's been important enough to me for me to keep it installed and updated, despite my anti-Microsoft leanings.

Until now.

I just got notification from my university that Microsoft has just released a new version of Office that -- brilliant move, guys! -- is incompatible with earlier versions of the same software. Yep, that's right: if you create a document in Office 2007, and you send it to someone running an older version of the same software, they won't be able to read it, until they also buy and install the new version.

Worse yet: if the recipient (for example, yours truly) is running MS Office on a Mac, they're shit out of luck, because Microsoft has announced no plans to release an updated version for the Mac. None at all.

Transparent marketing ploy, anyone? The Evil Bastards in Redmond have tried this before, with Explorer. Problem was, there were so many superior web browsers out there (I'm typing this on Firefox right now, and also use Safari) that users simply switched to something else, and web designers wrote code compatible with the other browsers. I never heard of a single Mac user being the least put out of joint by not having their very own version of Explorer to use (most of us had been politely ignoring it for years). But Office is ubiquitous, and notoriously finicky about communicating with other software programs, which makes this particular bit of corporate skulduggery a real issue.

UPDATE: I just did a bit of poking around, and it turns out that the Mac version is scheduled to be available in January 2008. Apparently there were many, many bugs in the Beta version. It's a pretty serious delay, but I'm just grateful that I won't be teaching this fall, so won't have to deal with it too much.

(Oh, yeah: work. I've been plugging away at article revisions -- still shooting for Monday -- but also have begun the packing process. More on both of these later).


Anonymous said...

There's always RTF!

gs said...

I have a visceral aversion to Microsoft. I just do.

If you haven't heard of Ubersoft and its Dark Lord, maybe you shouldn't click the links until packing and deadline are behind you.

Anonymous said...

There is also a beta version of the convertors necessary to read the default format for Office 2007, at least for Word. Here. Theoretically it will let you convert any unreadable documents you may receive.

Mellel is the Word-replacement many academics swear by. I've not heard anything about a "new better Mac suite", and I've got something like five word processors on my Mac, and pay attention to such things. :) Perhaps you mean NeoOffice? Which may already convert some of these Word 2007 documents, by the way.

Belle said...

Okay. I have the new Mac suite, and like it. I too use Microsoft (evil empire) anything under duress, but take heart. The people at Mac Mothership fix the Word problems and make it work better w/o having to go back through MS. So even if you have to wait until January, might be worth it.

I'm a relative newbie to the wonders of Macs, and am horrified that I waited so long to get rid of the PCs in my life.

My friends who've been 'converted' to OFfice 07 hate it. This is me, giggling.