back to article Oi, Microsoft, where's my effin' toolbar gone?

Half-life Wife is angry. She has begun swearing loudly through gritted teeth and is shaking her fist in a threatening manner. This, believe it or not, is a relief. Mrs D tends to not so much experience emotions as perform them, so the shaking fist is less a warning of intention, more the art of expression. And while I probably …

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  1. Mark Allread
    Meh

    What is this article supposed to be?

    Is it supposed to be funny? Is it being 'irreverent'? It's a load of old bollocks, for sure.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What is this article supposed to be?

      Just an excuse to bash Microsoft quite possibly...

      This is blatantly not intended behaviour...The software runs on a staggering range of hardware, sometimes it's going to go wrong.

      No idea what machine the authors Mrs. is using, but sounds like a common thing that happens when your trying to use some poor, underpowered machine like a Netbook, not specific to Word necessarily.

      Don't get the relevance of the article what so ever. The authors "speaks" as if the behaviour is intended, then goes and blames web browsers for it...

      And if you hate word so much don't buy or use it...simple.

      1. RyokuMas Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: What is this article supposed to be?

        "Just an excuse to bash Microsoft quite possibly..."

        As if they don't get enough bashing in these forums??? Okay, a lot of the time they deserve it, but...

        1. P. Lee
          Alien

          Re: What is this article supposed to be?

          > As if they don't get enough bashing in these forums??? Okay, a lot of the time they deserve it, but...

          Having had to use Word 2010, I'm convinced it is a cunning ploy to convince people to sign up for the ever-being-patched Office 365.

          In MS' coders' defense, it does appear to be due to dumb design decisions rather than buggy code. Three which come to mind are:

          1) With track changes on, if you delete text it isn't really deleted, (its just formatted with strike-out) so search and replace affect deleted text.

          2) A table caption isn't a table caption (i.e. a property of the table), its just some formatting, so anything inside the formatting codes (including the table) becomes part of the caption and handily appears inline in your table index.

          3) Being a table header-row isn't a property of a table, but of a row... any row. Also, don't break row over a page is a per-row, default off option.

          I haven't seen the author's SLW's issue, but there are plenty of unexpected and unexplained things going on in that suite.

      2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. 1Rafayal

          Re: What is this article supposed to be?

          Then, by your own logic, the same applies to Linux and every other OS maintainer etc.

      3. N2 Silver badge

        Re: What is this article supposed to be?

        Sorry, but they are far from alone, I gave up using Word some years ago but its lack of ability to display formatted text correctly as one in putted is legendary. Try as I may to produce, a simple piece of formatted text in a list with numbers? no chance; I got bold alternate numbering and all sorts of other malevolence appearing randomly from then on.

        Copying & pasting the text from notepad diddnt work either & whilst my computer was powerful enough to accurately predict the entire worlds weather system for the next billion years, this opus magnum of hand crafted bloat-ware from Redmond bought it to its knees.

        The author describes what should have been a fairly straight forward experience, made impossible by software touted to be the best in its class, IMO the earlier versions were OK but not any more. Personally, I dont want bells & whistles, I just want to get the job done and fast without the joys of a general protection error - Word has tried saving your work... but never has.

        To be honest, Id much prefer the ancient little dos program called Professional Writer that ran from one FDD, but there you go thats my preference, Im sure it will of course all be fixed in the next version...

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: What is this article supposed to be?

          Quote: Sorry, but they are far from alone, I gave up using Word some years ago but its lack of ability to display formatted text correctly as one inputted is legendary.

          You forgot to put the correct emphasis on "inputted" - that word has a ligature. Something which Word has failed to render correctly to this day. It is still not even to the level of ~ 1980es typesetting.

          Write the following sentence in word (at 44pt to see the difference clearly): "It does not matter if you inputted it or not - it is still utter garbage demonstrating that MSFT cannot render correctly basic English like 'f*** off'". Try the same in LaTeX. Print. Compare. Weep (Hint - look carefully at how ligatures - t followed by low letter, double t, double f, etc are rendered in either case).

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Sil

            Yes it does

            Why are you hysteric about ligatures, which isn't part of the English language?

            It's just a typographical style choice, it's not a universal given.

            Anyway if you knew how to use Word you would know that many ligatures are supported.

          3. Snake
            Unhappy

            Re: What is this article supposed to be?

            If you were that concerned about ligatures, then you should not be concerned that a "word processor" is not applying them correctly.

            Ligatures are due to the page layout typesetting and LaTex is page layout, so comparing apples to oranges is quite unfair. Word makes no claim to being a "page layout" application; you should, therefore, be properly using InDesign or Quark if accurate page layouts are what you seek. A generic "word processor" application, like Microsoft "Word", where the word processor functionality is mentioned but extreme layout accuracy is not, is unfairly asking too much of the wrong tool for the wrong job.

            1. The First Dave Silver badge
              Megaphone

              Re: Wrong tool

              Thing is, MacWrite on a Mac SE in 1988 could handle ligatures better than a modern copy of Word does. Besides, Word _claims_ to handle ligatures, so it is an entirely fair complaint.

              Sure LaTex does it much better, but that merely goes to show that the task is entirely achievable.

            2. Marvin the Martian

              Re: What is this article supposed to be?

              "Ligatures are due to the page layout typesetting and LaTex is page layout, so comparing apples to oranges is quite unfair. Word makes no claim to being a "page layout" application"

              That's about the stupidest thing I've read the most idiotic comments list I've seen in a long time;

              it's like saying that biological cells shouldn't contain DNA because DNA is an ecological thing, or computers shouldn't do floating point operations because that's a cloud feature.

            3. t.est

              Re: What is this article supposed to be?

              You're so wrong about this.

              A word processor ultimate usage is to produce a printed paper. If a word processor fails in page layout, it's not a word processor, it's merely a text editor.

              The biggest problem with MS software is that they never intended to make WYSIWYG. In fact they crippled the whole text rendering engine in Windows just so that it wouldn't be compatible with other systems out there. Just consider what the 96-120 dpi slider for text actually does, and why it's there. While other systems had standardized at 72 dpi for very good reasons.

              Back in the old days you could set up an mac system and take your ruler on the screen and the measurement did exactly match what you got out from your lazer printer and then from you offset.

              MS used their almost monopoly situation by making material produced on their system look bad in WYSIWYG systems, just as they did with holding their own HTML "standards" during the IE 4-6 era. It's a pure business strategy from Redmond.

        2. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: What is this article supposed to be?

          "Sorry, but they are far from alone; I gave up using Word some years ago but its lack of ability to display formatted text correctly as one intended is legendary. "

          There. Rendered it into English for you.

          1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: What is this article supposed to be?

            You are all misunderstanding it. It a very cunning advert for LaTeX. If you adjust your monitor settings properly, the message "LaTeX RULES!!" can be made out in the background.

        3. Katie Saucey
          Windows

          Re: What is this article supposed to be?

          "..a simple piece of formatted text in a list with numbers? no chance."

          I agree that the list formatting tools in Word suck (always have in every version, probably always will). I find the best (least frustrating anyway) way to get reproducible results, is by forcing everything into hidden tables, then use cell formatting.

          1. Lusty
            Boffin

            Re: What is this article supposed to be?

            "I agree that the list formatting tools in Word suck"

            Actually they are really rather good if you learn to use them properly. When you finish a list you need to end it in order for Word to know that's what you've done - do this with a double <enter>. To go "in" a level, press tab, to go "out" a level press shift+tab, if you're in a table you need to use the buttons on the menu because tab and shift+tab navigate tables. You should also be using styles to modify the appearance rather than bold, italic and sizing buttons otherwise a proper mess is the only expected result.

          2. P. Lee
            Devil

            Re: What is this article supposed to be?

            Tables for layout are the devil's own work.

            It also took me ages to work out why some list items appeared to reset to 1.1.1.1.1.

            Turns out that increasing list levels indents, but out-denting(?) them doesn't do the opposite and don't expect the indent level to relate to the list level in navigation view either. You have to "promote" the item until it regains a sensible number and then re-demote it.

            A curse on all such formatting options which project managers love and makes everyone-else's lives a nightmare.

            DocBook anyone?

            1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: What is this article supposed to be?

              "Tables for layout are the devil's own work."

              Thank $deity I thought I was going crazy and it was just me.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What is this article supposed to be?

          "I gave up using Word some years ago but its lack of ability to display formatted text correctly as one in putted is legendary. Try as I may to produce, a simple piece of formatted text in a list with numbers? no chance; I got bold alternate numbering and all sorts of other malevolence appearing randomly from then on.!

          Myself, my children and every secretary I ever had don't seem to have any issues with such basic functionality. Therefore I suggest the problem is you.

          There really isn't a good alternative to Word - it is the best. There are other options like Libre Office or Google Apps but they are all considerably inferior in a business context.

      4. Sam Liddicott

        Re: What is this article supposed to be?

        "The software runs on a staggering range of hardware, sometimes it's going to go wrong."

        It's the OS job to fix that problem - also by Microsoft so you've shifted the blame from Microsoft Office division to Microsoft OS division?

        Do you work for MS technical support?

      5. Alistair Dabbs

        Re: What is this article supposed to be?

        >> And if you hate word so much don't buy or use it...simple.

        So your suggestion is that after I buy a copy of MS Word, use it and subsequently not like it, I should not buy it? Can anyone else here spot the flaw in this chronological sequence of events?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What is this article supposed to be?

          Word has a free trial. It installs using Microsoft's streaming technology and is quite incredibly fast!

          http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/business/products/new-office.aspx

        2. Anthony Hegedus Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: What is this article supposed to be?

          Which is why you shouldn't buy it in the first place really.

      6. TkH11

        Re: What is this article supposed to be?

        Evidently AC you don't know much about software or computing.

        Why the f**K would a toolbar vanish be dependent on the f**ng hardware??

        Yes, there's lot of different hardware out there, but with abstraction layers, device drivers, an application which sits on top of the operating system (in a layering model) the hardware should have little effect on the application (save for performance).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What is this article supposed to be?

      Oh lighten up a bit. Windows is full of bollocks, Linux is full of bollocks and as a user of OSX, that has some serious crap stuffed up it's sleeve that really peeves me sometimes.

      It's a Friday lunchtime, throwaway article. No one put a gun to your head to read it! It was obvious from the title it was going to be a throwaway silly article, let it go and head down the pub with a new talking point!

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge
        Pint

        Re: Oh lighten up a bit

        Indeed. It's Friday! Have a beer!

      2. David Given
        Thumb Up

        Re: What is this article supposed to be?

        Sounds like *somebody* needs to go watch Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie's _Every OS Sucks_ again:

        http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/loadingreadyrun/2516-Every-OS-Sucks

      3. N2 Silver badge

        Re: What is this article supposed to be?

        Take 'help' for example, its your new friend!

        No, Im off too the pub as well.

      4. Mike Taylor

        Re: What is this article supposed to be?

        Amen to that. Why are there five ways to run a programme in OSX?

    3. jai

      Re: What is this OP's comment supposed to be?

      Is it supposed to be funny? Is it being 'irreverent'? It's a load of old bollocks, for sure.

      There, fixed it for you. You didn't really come to El Reg to read in depth technical discussions on the technology world, did you? Is this your first time here?

    4. Silverburn
      Pint

      Re: What is this article supposed to be?

      Is it supposed to be funny? Is it being 'irreverent'? It's a load of old bollocks, for sure.

      It is. It was. It's not.

      Cheer up and have one on me.

  2. hplasm Silver badge
    Windows

    Word.

    People pay for this crap. (The sw, not the article).

    Hilarious (Life, and the article).

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is a simple explanation

    Word is utter shit and the UI is designed by morons. This has been true for many years now.

    1. Peter Simpson 1
      Thumb Down

      Re: There is a simple explanation

      Word *used* to be fine. A fully featured word processor. This was back in '97 or so. Soon, everyone who needed one had a copy, and Microsoft's revenue stream from Office was drying up. THIS is when the troubles began.

      Yearly releases were decreed...incompatible file formats were mandated and frivolous "features" were added. And the "ribbon" was born! A time-tested UI, with which every user was familiar and comfortable, was replaced with something that took up more room and required more clicks to use. Because it's so big and special, you have to have tabs. And, of course, there's no going back to the clean, simple, functional menu interface that you were familiar with, because Microsoft just KNOWS you're going to LOVE the ribbon, if only you'll give it a chance!

      Such mind-boggling stupidity does not deserve to be rewarded.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: There is a simple explanation

        Oh hell, yeah... my university faculty had the latest version of Word, the campus reprographics department, where we were to get our projects printed and bound to a deadline, didn't. Genius.

        Shame, because some bits of Word I really like, such as the Document Map.

      2. Crisp Silver badge

        Re: There is a simple explanation

        Not to mention changing the bloody file format every sodding version.

        1. VeganVegan
          Pint

          Re: There is a simple explanation

          There's a simple explanation for that as well:

          That's how they force people to but new versions.

          All it takes is some idiot to adopt the new version, and all of a sudden, incompatibility problems rile up the entire organization. To restore peace, everyone is forced to upgrade to the new version. M$ is not mis-named.

          Even this is almost forgivable, after all, they have to make a profit to deliver us new and better software (right!).

          The madness is when they move commands and options hither and yon, some in the ribbon, others in the toolbar, the formatting palette, a dozen special option windows, toolbars, galleries, menus, (am I forgetting any other?).

          More than that, the commands that work on a particular object are frequently split up & dumped in various places, that makes it like a game of treasure hunt.

          If Office was a horse, it would have been humanely put down a long time ago.

          Now I need a beer to calm down.

      3. El Andy
        FAIL

        Re: There is a simple explanation

        I'm trying to work out if it's deliberate irony that you posted a Ribbon bashing comment on a post that effectively describes exactly why the pre-2007 menu/toolbar ui was so frustrating for most people. But then I'm also wondering why the article author doesn't just upgrade his apparently ancient copy of Word and let the wife have an easier life.

      4. Lusty

        Re: There is a simple explanation

        " A time-tested UI, with which every user was familiar and comfortable, was replaced with something that took up more room and required more clicks to use."

        The time tested UI was the cause of the vast majority of users misusing Word. The ribbon bar helps users to learn to use Word properly by presenting styles and other core features to them in a more understandable way. You may disagree with this, but if so then you're probably the sort of person who uses the bold and italic buttons and even the dreaded "text bigger" and "text smaller" buttons rather than creating styles for the whole document.

        Sorry, I have to rant. At a previous job I tidied the office manual which had 400+ styles in use when I got to it and many thousand double paragraph marks which were used to space the document for layout. If you don't know that using the enter key for spacing is wrong PLEASE seek training!

        1. Chet Mannly

          Re: There is a simple explanation

          "The time tested UI was the cause of the vast majority of users misusing Word. The ribbon bar helps users to learn to use Word properly by presenting styles and other core features to them in a more understandable way. "

          P!ss off mate - it just adds big colourful icons to *exactly the same functions*. It wastes screen space and slows down the production of a document noticeably.

          "you're probably the sort of person who uses the bold and italic buttons and even the dreaded "text bigger" and "text smaller" buttons rather than creating styles for the whole document."

          So you're going with "you're holding it wrong"? Seriously?

          I shouldn't have to set up a complete set of styles to write a 2 paragraph letter. MS formatting sucks, as demonstrated by the fact they made the formatting brush to correct the constant automatic f%^& ups by Word.

          If you're trying to feel superior because you know what styles are I seriously think you need to get a life...

          1. Lusty

            Re: There is a simple explanation

            "it just adds big colourful icons to *exactly the same functions"

            No, it actually changes what is visible to users and emphasises only the important bits. Note that your beloved basic styling buttons are now as small as they always were yet the style icons are an inch wide. This is partly because many people were not using the style functionality due to either lack of training or simple ignorance, and making the "right way" look a bit fisher price helps to start people off on the right foot rather than get them all muddled by letting them change colour, size, bold, italic etc randomly each time they want to emphasise text.

            "So you're going with "you're holding it wrong"? Seriously?"

            No, I'll go with "I hope you don't put Word skills on your CV" thanks. We get far too many people claiming they know how to use Word but who then fail miserably when writing documents over a page or two. When preparing hundred page reports it becomes important to use the more advanced features, and not doing so wastes valuable company time where people need to manually reformat whole sections just because some halfwit didn't understand what styles are for.

            "If you're trying to feel superior because you know what styles are I seriously think you need to get a life..." No, I wasn't trying to feel superior but your reply has made me feel that way so thanks!

        2. peter_dtm
          FAIL

          @Lusty

          you are kidding

          My day jopb is not being a professional type setter; it's being an engineer.

          The TOOL I am given to write reports in; is a piece of unmittigated crap called MicroSoft Word.

          All I need to be able to do is

          open ANY document (odp; amw etc as well as M$ - oh and 5 year old docs)

          type using simple effects - bold underline italics sub/superscript proper paragraph; proper bullets and some simple tables.

          I do not need to be able to reproduce the skill set of a type setter working pre-Murdoch.

          I use the buttons - why the hell wouldn't I ?

          I expect at the very least a wysiwyg interface.

          I do not expect some pointless relocation of options; or the hidding of options just for the sake of it

          Enter key -- inserts new line & carriage return charecters into document - if some random half arsed program wants to use it for something else; it is the publishers of said programe who need training

          If the ribon is supposed to stop people 'misusing' word; I wish you joy; I for one use it the same way I've always -used WORD PROCESSING programmes :-

          (supposedly) to EASILY and EFFICIENTLY write WELL PRESENTED documents.

          The solution to YOUR problem is not training for the vast majrity of users but to cut out all the bloatware in Word(excell) that isn't needed by 90% of its user base. Then you can be given a PROPER tool for correcting our miserably incompetent attempts to play at being typestters.

          If Word & Excel worked properly PowerPoint would NOT be needed

          1. Lusty

            Re: @Lusty

            "Enter key -- inserts new line & carriage return charecters into document - if some random half arsed program wants to use it for something else; it is the publishers of said programe who need training"

            No it doesn't, the enter key inserts a paragraph mark into the document, shift+enter gives you a line break and carrage return. These are completely different functions in Word and will often give different formatting results. A paragraph often has a larger gap than the line spacing.

            "(supposedly) to EASILY and EFFICIENTLY write WELL PRESENTED documents."

            What could be more efficient than styles to create a well presented document. You can ensure that all of your text looks the same rather than hoping that you consistently used the same font/size/emphasis throughout. It also means that if you collaborate there is no need for everyone to check their formatting because they can use the same style, and that style can be changed at any time with minimal effort. If you've used the various buttons individually then you'll have to check the entire document to change the font because potentially every paragraph is a different style so there won't be a way to centrally change it.

            1. Anthony Hegedus Silver badge
              Flame

              Re: @Lusty

              yes, but you're wrong. Enter may insert a paragraph mark into a document, but to the average user it inserts a new line, and badly. By default MS Word 2007 and above has a default line spacing between paragraphs, so pressing Enter after a para automatically puts in a a nice gap. Not so useful when typing a list and you don't want bullet points or numbering or bloody great gaps between each line.

              So you can use shift-enter. Except you can't if you've got full justification on, because if you've got just a few words on the last line, using shift-enter sets these few words out fully justified with the last word all the way on the right, and huge horizontal gaps between the words!

              So you end up having to rejig the style, or choose a different style (easy enough if you know what the hell a style actually is!!!).

              No, this is not usability. It's crap. Yes, it works for people who want to design nice looking consistent office manuals and the like, but then for the rest of us, it feels like bullying tactics. Seriously, I've talked to enough ordinary people trying to use this crap and these are the sort of things they say.

              For me personally, I know how it's meant to work, and it doesn't bother me that much. I find frustrations will all word processors, as I switch between "typing a shopping list" and "typing a 10-page proposal".

              And to avoid accusations of MS-Bashing, I have similar problems in Apple's Pages effort: It's super-easy to type simple documents and edit bits of more complex ones, but you try and do some complex numbering or align pictures and it's not so much that it's difficult, it's more a matter of "where the hell do I go now - why isn't there a button for this???". In LibreOffice, you try doing a mail-merge, something microsoft has got fairly much spot-on.

              1. Lusty

                Re: @Lusty

                I think the issue is that people are using Word for things they should be using WordPad to do. If you don't need the added functionality then don't buy or pirate a piece of expensive software with the added functionality. Everything that everyone moans about in Word is already "fixed and working" in WordPad because that's what it is there for. Don't even get me started on the things people misuse Excel for, although that's usually down to some angry nerd telling them not to use Access for their database.

        3. uncredited

          Re: There is a simple explanation

          "The ribbon bar helps users to learn to use Word properly by presenting styles and other core features to them in a more understandable way."

          The the way styles were implemented in Word was a complete and utter disaster which is why many of those that actually tried learning to use them gave up and went back to the "bold and italic buttons".

        4. Anthony Hegedus Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: There is a simple explanation

          Your point is to my mind true to some extent only. Yes, the dreaded ribbon helps people use styles. And styles help keep document consistency and other things. BUT when you want to write a letter to the tax office, when you want to write a poster saying "hot tap faulty" or a simple quote.... you don't want typesetting rules and styles to cloud your mind. You want to find where they've put the fucking "save as" command, or how to insert a table, or you want to know why the stupid thing insists on putting a blank line after every carriage return (SO many people ask me to stop it doing that!).

          The point is that WP is a commodity app for most tasks and most people - nobody gives a shit about styles, alignment or anything complex like that. For MOST tasks MOST of the time all you need is Print, Save As, bold underline and Italic and the ability to change fonts. And also (and this is the problem) the ability to open documents written by people who do give a shit about styles etc without it completely cocking up the layout.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There is a simple explanation

        The whole of Office is a mess which they just add new UI carp and most;y useless features to periodically

        * The diabolical Ribbon which so annoyed me that I got a plugin to restore the menus via a new tab, so that I could see ALL the options, many of which can't be accessed from the any ribbon tab or normal customisation!

        * You have to use very specific settings to allow Excel to make two spreadsheet visible at the same time in separate windows, because their automation interface sucks so bad.

        * You have to add a macro to do basic operations like refresh a whole Word document for changed referenced values and structure changes, because Microsoft were too stupid to add it.

        * The only good addition I discovered was the canvas in Word, because it makes word-art sane by separating it from text.

        * LibreOffice by-default allows several spreadsheets to be visible in separate windows, and is way better at importing text into a spreadsheet, it _really_ shames Microsoft.

      6. Jes.e

        Re: There is a simple explanation

        "Word *used* to be fine."

        ***

        No. I must respectfully disagree.

        Word *never* worked *fine*..

        http://www.csd.uwo.ca/staff/magi/personal/humour/Computer_Audience/Douglas%20Adams'%20Guide%20to%20the%20Macintosh.html

      7. Anthony Hegedus Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: There is a simple explanation

        It seems that microsoft employs demented cabbages to design their UIs. I challenge anyone to log into their new "outlook.com" style hotmail and write an email without a message coming up about "are you sure you want to send this without a subject?". Actually, we can all do it, but sit someone down who hasn't just just read this and challenge them to do it. The way it's designed is such one's eyes do to travel over naturally to the subject "area", and you end up forgetting to do it. Not massive problem for most people, you'll eventually work it out. But usability testing - don't they spend millions, if not billions on this at Microsoft?

        So the end result is that we will do what microsoft want because we're forced to use their rubbish, until one day we open our bloody eyes, and there's a worthy competitor around. No, much as I like and use linux, it's not a serious contender yet. But google could do it... It really is like the story of The Emperor's New Clothes and has been for years and years. Microsoft-bashing is boring because it's so easy, and that's the point, surely: it shouldn't be.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: There is a simple explanation

      It never ceases to amaze or sadden me that apparently the Word UI is the result of extensive testing in usability labs. I'd like to meet some of the people they've been testing it on. Or maybe not. I suspect some of them may not be house trained yet.

      1. teebie

        Re: There is a simple explanation

        "the Word UI is the result of extensive testing in usability labs"

        Usually i'd save this comment for more serious matters: That's an extraordinary claim, and as such requires extraordinary evidence.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Go

          Re: There is a simple explanation

          That's an extraordinary claim, and as such requires extraordinary evidence.

          Evidence 1

          "Usability at Microsoft has come a long way in the 10 years it's been around. When the group started, there was one small lab in building 5, in the middle of the oldest part of the Redmond campus. Today there are over 30 individual labs, and even more usability engineers that work with product teams to run the studies"

          Evidence 2

          Just sayin' ;)

          1. wayne 8
            Pint

            Usability at Microsoft has come a long way

            "Today there are over 30 individual labs, and even more usability engineers that work with product teams to run the studies"

            And more effort expended to justify existence.

            Gawd, Douglas Adams had it so spot on about focus groups, marketing, etc. The shoe event horizon plays out over and over.

            A pint for Mr. Adams.

          2. Katie Saucey
            FAIL

            Re: There is a simple explanation

            "..and even more usability engineers that work with product teams to run the studies."

            Ah-HA! There's the problem right there, usability engineers. Two engineering departments and their management fighting for control of the final product, recipe for failure every time. I can believe in the msdn they actually try to make sound like a good thing.

      2. Anthony Hegedus Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: There is a simple explanation

        My point EXACTLY. MAC OS may not be perfect, but their usability team have probably been testing it on slightly less weird people.

    3. Cipher
      FAIL

      Re: There is a simple explanation

      Robert Long 1

      "There is a simple explanation

      Word is utter shit and the UI is designed by morons. This has been true for many years now."

      It always sucked, and then they threw in "The Ribbon" to see if they could make it even worse. At this they succeeded...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The worst thing, by a mile...

    ...are those functions that remain invisible until you hover over them (yes, WordPress, I'm looking at you). How the f%$# are you supposed to know to hover if the f*&^ers are invisible?

    The other UI nightmare is the one that came with Orifice 2000 (at least I think it was but it was definitely a MS product). Menu items that just disappeared if you didn't use them often. The obvious happened: As you couldn't then find them you used them even less.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge
      FAIL

      Re: The worst thing, by a mile...

      "...are those functions that remain invisible until you hover over them "

      Oh yes. remembered that with a brand-new install of Office 2010. You go to something and right-click to bring up the context menu (it's the only way you can do some things in Visio), and just after you click, Office decides to unhide a mobile tool pallet, and registers your click as menaing change the font or some such. Then it decides that every time you approach that object in the future, the pallet should pop-up again, so you can't even select said object because there is a tool pallet in front of it :(

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: The worst thing, by a mile...

      >Menu items that just disappeared if you didn't use them often.

      Ha! I'd forgotten about those... incomplete menus, stripped of most of their items should they 'confuse' novice users. Grr. At least that 'feature' could be turned off.

      For the love all that is holy, I don't know why MS didn't give a hand-over period of few versions between menus and Ribbon. Or just leave menus in.

    3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    4. keithpeter
      Boffin

      Re: The worst thing, by a mile...

      "Menu items that just disappeared if you didn't use them often. The obvious happened: As you couldn't then find them you used them even less."

      Ah, yes, I remember that one. As I was implicated in the teaching of students in IT rooms at the time, it bit especially. We got the techies to set this option...

      http://support.microsoft.com/kb/213398

    5. Chet Mannly

      Re: The worst thing, by a mile...

      "The other UI nightmare is the one that came with Orifice 2000 "

      Disappearing menu items and f$%^&%^& smart tags.

      There is a special circle of hell reserved for whoever came up with those, and a room there reserved for the moron that made the "turn smart tags off" function not actually turn them off...

    6. COMPUTERJOCK
      Thumb Down

      Re: The worst thing, by a mile...

      You could turn that disappearing item thing off - it was a simple fix.

  5. Alister Silver badge

    I weep for the next generation of users, who will be forced to wrestle with software interfaces that no longer react according to what you choose to do, but writhe about the screen like ghastly creatures with unnatural lives of their own, while the helpless user can do nothing but watch on in horror as their work gets dragged into the spectral shadows, their deadlines ripped to fleshy shreds and their very souls consumed in the vile and bestial depths of hell.

    ...aaand, breathe.

    Nice sentence :-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      parse;

      I weep for the next generation of users, their deadlines ripped to fleshy shreds and their very souls consumed in the vile and bestial depths of hell.

      (They) will be forced to wrestle with software interfaces that no longer react according to what you (why not they?) choose to do.

      (Their software interfaces shall) writhe about the screen like ghastly creatures with unnatural lives of their own.

      The helpless user can do nothing but watch on in horror as their work gets dragged into the spectral shadows.

      See, almost poetry, or a curse from Lovecraft.

      1. peter_dtm
        FAIL

        Re: parse AC @2013-3-21 12:47z

        sorry there is nothing wrong with the original sentance; except, perhaps; the lack of semi-colons; which appear to have been replced by commas.

        Hint - use a comma to break up a sentnce into speach rythm (breathing points); use a semi-colon to break up noun/verb phrases; that could be stand alone sentances. Should the author have wished to make lots of baby short sentnaces; you normally find that he does so; but then, that is because he's wrtting a children's book; not a comment for adults to read and appreciate.

        So in fact your parsing is wrong; you should have replaced most of the commas with semi-colons. 0/10

  6. Shady
    Windows

    Non-spoonerism?

    My son is terrified of the Four Foot Snake living inside my PC

  7. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    I have seen something like this before - in 1996

    I eventually discovered the problem was lack of a particular flavour of memory. Adding more memory solved nothing as it was the wrong flavour. The 'solution' was to reboot every hour or two - to be certain that the 'save' option was still available. I recommend abiword, kword, Libre Office or one of the many other fine choices available to penguins.

    PS: Mrs D should think twice before attending PyCon.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I have seen something like this before - in 1996

      Low memory causes all sorts of problems in MS Office products, and for that matter, any of their applications, especially if copying/pasting graphics is going on (even if that's in a different app!). The worst is the "file corruption detected" when trying to save Excel documents, resulting in almost complete loss of the document if you tell it to try to recover it -- better to not save, and reload your last saved version. Rebooting is necessary, as simply closing all applications and restarting just the one you're currently working with rarely works (at least in my current experience, using MS products while working as a contractor at MS).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I have seen something like this before - in 1996 @AC 18:56

        Corrupted EXCEL documents unrecoverable after trying to recover. Yep, been there and done that.

        There is so just much crapola in the EXCEL code, it beggars belief. I can crash it at will, corrupt files at will, send it into an apparently infinite loop and on and on and on. And I use almost NO advanced functionality, just load some data and make a few graphs with the odd function (sum etc). Really, I use it trivially. It is, at best, an incapable product.

        Bootenote: Forced to upgrade to 2010 and loathe the ribbon as well (personal pref YMMV). Now I can have a million rows (or some such number), but anything I might want to do with those rows results in Win7 asking if I want to terminate or wait. It doesn't usually matter what I choose, the resulting crash looks the same to me :(

        Try removing duplicate rows in a non-trivial sheet of data for fun.

  8. xperroni
    Paris Hilton

    Stuck back

    Indeed, while we were not victims of any alien anal probing, Mrs D explicitly expressed a wish that something vaguely similar but eye-wateringly more vigorous could be inflicted upon Microsoft.

    Because it wouldn't be an Alistair piece if it didn't refer to other people's buttocks.

    Kinda obsessed with the stuff aren't we?

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge
      Coat

      Re: Stuck back

      That's below the belt!

      Oh, wait..

      :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stuck back

      Of all the things it is possible to be obsessed with, a nice pair of buttocks (and what lurks between), should surely sit high on the list.

      Whether walking down the street, or by browsing NSFW sites; please, all those who read this comment, take a minute or two today to appreciate your favourite example of this wonderful part of the human experience.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Stuck back

        I do. It's only five offices alomg the corridor... She's not wearing jeans today, though...

  9. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Flame

    Toolbars, schmoolbars...

    It's only taken us five thousand years to move from little pictograms to real alphabetical writing. Who needs dozens of little pictures coming and going while they're trying to do something useful?

    What the hell is wrong with hierarchical text menus anyway?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Toolbars, schmoolbars...

      >What the hell is wrong with hierarchical text menus anyway?

      Not much. My only niggle with them is that if the name of the menu items are too long, navigating it with a mouse becomes a test of dexterity... fall off the path and and you have to start again.

      I've never known why pie menus aren't more common- since they happily co-exist with normal context menus, I don't see the downside.

    2. RW
      Big Brother

      Why pictograms instead of words in menus?

      Because pictograms don't require translation when building software versions for other languages.

      Sheer laziness, in other words.

      Or maybe consideration and foresight in anticipation that today's monolingual speaker of English will be using Haida or Georgian tomorrow.

  10. Fihart

    watch on ??

    ".......while the helpless user can do nothing but watch on in horror as their work gets dragged into the spectral shadows...."

    What Australasian soap have you been watching ? Or have we English spontaneously replaced "watch" or "look on" with the redundant "watch on" and "watched on"? They sound and look weird. Please stop.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: watch on ??

      I'm trying rework that Bacarach David classic "Walk on by" by your rule... Nah, it doesn't have the same ring to it.

      1. Fihart

        Re: watch on ??

        And when did the perfectly serviceable English phrase "fed up with" become the (presumably Australian) "fed up of".

        Again sounds weird, though it may not be wrong, technically.

      2. Fihart

        Re: watch on ??

        @Dave 126

        You are right.

        The On in Walk On By adds extra meaning to do with continuity of the action and, in the context, clearly implies emotional detachment.

        Look On is different from Look, to me it suggests looking from a physical distance or with an emotional distance.

        But Watch On seems to be a new introduction to British English language and sits uncomfortably with me because the On part adds no new meaning that existing phrases don't already cover.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: watch on ??

          The On in Walk On By adds extra meaning to do with continuity of the action and, in the context, clearly implies emotional detachment.

          That's because the idiom "walk on" expresses a different action than the verb "walk". The latter refers simply to locomotion; the former to declining to permit some event to alter one's course of action. Sometimes "walk on" is used literally (as it probably is in the song in question, though it's not explicit that the addressee is walking - only the speaker), in other cases metaphorically, but in any event the primary is declining to stop. It's not so much "add[ing] extra meaning" (since "walk on" can be used metaphorically in ways that "walk" by itself rarely or never is) as it is an idiomatic meaning that's significantly different.

          Look On is different from Look, to me it suggests looking from a physical distance or with an emotional distance.

          The phrase "look on" is not interchangeable with "look" in any case; it's not a verbal phrase, but a verb followed by a preposition. The "on" in "Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!" cannot be omitted without producing a nonstandard grammatical construction, because "look" is intransitive. It's not a parallel case, so there's no need to search for special connotation.

          Watch On seems to be a new introduction to British English language

          Google nGram Viewer shows "watch on" as more common than "look on", though less common than "walk on", consistently since 1800. Many of those will be false positives ("he had the watch on deck"), and others phrasing where the preposition is necessary ("kept a watch on our liberties"). But "watch on as", in the sense discussed here, does appear at least as recently as the late 19th century, though I have only found US examples with a quick search. The similar "watch on while" (in this sense) appears to be a more recent coinage - the earliest Google found it was in a 1968 source[1], and again primarily in the US, though interestingly it also shows up in the 1970s in Nigeria.

          the On part adds no new meaning that existing phrases don't already cover

          To the contrary, in most uses of "watch on" that I've identified with these Google Books searches, it clearly implies continuing to watch while taking no action (or being unable to take action). Thus it likely was coined by analogy to the existing idiomatic meaning of "walk on".

          [1] Lawry, The Shadow of Heaven, Matter, and Stance in Milton's Poetry, Cornell UP, 1968.

  11. Colin Millar
    Windows

    What would be nice

    Is a big - "I am not a moron" button which would prompt the software to dump all of its "helpful" features and allow people with some actual brain cells to choose their own config. I have to admit being an afficionado of software which sits in the corner quietly until I tell it to do something and then jumps to attention, does what it's told and STFU about it.

    We have Office 2010 being rolled out here soon and from the looks on the faces of other users who already have it it is going to take a particularly brutal bludgeoning to get it to behave anything like a computer program and not a random annoyance generator.

    I am particularly holding my breath for:

    - Waiting to see the new Munchian nightmare they will have made of styles

    - Wondering if they could afford a monkey with two brain cells to do outline numbering this time

    - Seeing if they are continuing the schrodinger experiment on tracked changes

    Of course it could be worse - we could be on LibreOffice

    1. RW
      FAIL

      The flaw in trying to do users favors

      Whenever software attempts to read users' minds, anticipate what they will do next, save them effort (sometimes), or divine the intentions behind user errors, it's all guesswork and it's often wrong.

      Give me good old Windows 3.1 software like Lotus 1-2-3 R5 that did what you told it to do, nothing else. If you made a mistake, it simply told you so and made no effort to diagnose the your intentions.

      1. Fihart

        Re: The flaw in trying to do users favors

        @RW

        Absofuckinlutely. I cannot stand the way Word starts trying to number and indent paragraphs without being asked.

        I can do that without help, when (and only when) I want to.

    2. Philip Lewis
      FAIL

      Re: What would be nice

      An I thought it was just me.

      If I could upvote this more than once I would.

      Really, I am certain that I am smarter than the morons who wrote WORD, and really, I don't need their help. Honestly guys, really!

      I am forever turning off features (which seem to magically reactivate) which I don't need. Features that until they intruded into my field of vision, I did not even know existed. What is it with the neo-Nazi Microsoft vision that they actually believe that they are capable of thinking on my behalf?

      "We are Microsoft, we know what is best for you" - righhhhht, not!

      I loathe word with a passion and have done so since it was foisted upon me in the 4.1 era, and WP 5.1 fell by the wayside.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Word is brilliant!

    I think you make a mole of an anthill, Word's been my editor of choice (and necessity) for 15 years now and i have NEVER experienced this vanishing toolbar problem, which proves to me, that it doesn't exist (Berkeley et al.) Granted, I have experienced some, ehm... quirks, and currently struggle with (my own, no doubt) failure to be able to insert footnotes into documents (when I was a master expert in footnote insertion in previous Word embodiments), and granted, when I open a document fields with garbage shows in documents when I would expect something designed for humans, and no amount of ticking and unticking Word guts, closing and opening, etc., would make it do what you expect it to do. Yes, it is a scientifically proven fact (...) that Word DOES wait for you to reach that point of exasperation, indicated by the number and increasing frequency of (pointless) mouse clicks, and then it decides to add the master stroke, by crashing - but dear sir, this is but a fact of life, like... snow in England in 3rd week of March. Put on them shorts and march on, regardless, do not curse. Change the settings to autosave to every 1 minute, from every 10 mins (I figured it out in Word 97 and it's been the first "tweak" with every new Word ever since) - job done! As to the rest... like I said, shorts on, and march on. And look, if it was to be made perfect from the start, what would be whole point?! The point of upgrading and forking out 250 quid every three years for all those indispensable, ground-breaking features. It's got to pay them engineers to make them features and tweaks, what else, should they re-locate to Burma?!

    Yes, have a nice weekend too!

    1. Alister Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Word is brilliant!

      I think you make a mole of an anthill

      Interesting project, and way to mix any number of metaphors...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I think you make a mole of an anthill

        u like it? Took me three days to breed-cross it, mind.

    2. Rukario
      Joke

      A mole of an anthill?

      So, is that an anthill that contains 6.02214×1023 ants?

      1. Alister Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: A mole of an anthill?

        It's a mole with a sticker on the side:

        "Anthill Inside"

      2. peter_dtm
        Pint

        Re: A mole of an anthill?

        best of the year so far

        have a pint

  13. Dave 126 Silver badge

    >Together we go hunting for the runaway toolbar. According to the View menu, it’s ticked and ought to be visible. So we do as you do in computing, untick it and retick it

    I often do that in Adobe packages... it's not so much that the toolbar has gone AWOL, its just that I can't spot the one I need amongst its peers, despite having used just a moment ago. Unticking and reticking highlights its position to me. I'm aware that Adobe have attempted to give me ways of organising these toolbars, such as tabbing them, but that just gives the buggers more places to hide.

    I don't think I've used Word - or Excel - since the "Where the flipping hell has [X] gone? Ferfuxake!" fun of the Ribbon Menu. Similar adventures in Windows Media Player have me using its simpler Classic cousin.

    I do love Solidworks' UI - it has menus, a command manager, customisable toolbars, context menus, context pie menus, keyboard shortcuts... hell, even a command line emulator for those who've spend time on 2D drafting.

  14. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Flame

    Toolbars disappearing?

    In Office's case on a 16:9 screen about half your document area is taken up by the damn ribbon, which is a toolbar with huge icons and tabs. Some icons are buttons, others make menus drop down, and some are wedged in somewhere because there's nowhere else to put them.

    The newest version of iPhoto is like a straightjacket compared to previous versions. The newest version builds upon the previous versions' imperfections and removes half the options.

    The Web-isation of UIs means fewer menus and more buttons and mouse-over windows. Programs are more selfish, they expect the whole screen to themselves so it can be webby and pretty. The UI is less standard, you're expected to spend an hour or two clicking or hovering the pointer over things to find out if it's a button or there's a context menu or more information.

    Bah, humbug.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Toolbars disappearing?

      You do realize you can hide the ribbon with a single click, and unhide it with the same?

      With the ribbon hidden it uses less vertical pixel space than Office 2003.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Toolbars disappearing?

        Two clicks I believe (click down arrow for quick toolbar personalisation then the menu option to hide the ribbon). Why do I have to go into the quick toolbar to change a ribbon option by the way? And isn't this quick toolbar how the Office 2003 toolbar worked, so what's the ribbon, the slow toolbar?

        If I hide any UI I'd hope it would use less vertical pixel space. But then you can't see it and you've got no menu to drive Office either, you've only got the ribbon tab. You've got to click on the ribbon tab first to bring the icons back and then click the icon. So you've hidden the ribbon to gain space but you're generating more clicks the moment you want to do anything compared to the Office 2003 toolbar. Not a very good trade off.

    2. Paul 135

      Re: Toolbars disappearing?

      I'd put more blame for that on laptop manufacturers for forcing 16:9 upon users rather than blaming Microsoft!

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Toolbars disappearing?

        So it was impossible for Microsoft to put the menu down the side, where a 16:9 monitor has tons of wasted space?

        They certainly made it impossible for a user to put their toolbars there.

        1. peter_dtm
          FAIL

          Richard 12

          I've been putting my OS & program toolbars 'elsewhere' since W95.

          In M$ land it just doesn't work - W7 knows NOTHING about a menu unless it's down the bottom.

          Put your windows menu (sensibly) on the side & most M$ programs will endeavour to ignore it - eithr going under the menu or over it.

          Add in multi screens & the whole thing becomes a random game of 'find the menu' - including disappearing completely.

          If we have to have W I D E monitors shouldn't the OS behave sensibly and have menus at the side ?

          I have one monitor rotated 90 degrees for easy reading of documents - they look a lot like a physical print out & are easier to read. Windows (& word) appear to HATE this layout with a passion

          Why on earth do you need a wide screen in an office ?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Richard 12

            Back in the days of yore, word processing machine monitors were in fact vertical for the very reason that documents are for the most part vertical. Were I able to rotate my 16:9 screen I would, but sadly I can't :(

  15. AndrueC Silver badge
    Flame

    Word (and it's evil brethren Excel) have a lot of idiocy and most seems to be the result of the application 'knowing best'. I've done what I can to tame mouse selection but it still selects things I don't want - like the start or end of the next paragraph. Delete one paragraph at the end of a section and the heading for the next section changes styles. Nice :(

    And on the subject of idiocy - could my fellow developers please consider adding 'Paste as Text' to their friggin products? I know it's kind of cool and sometimes useful to have formatting and colour in the clipboard but a lot of the time it's right pain in the arse. I tend to keep Notepad open these days as an intermediary to strip out the formatting.

    I've said many times that over the last decade computers seem to have started getting more and more irritating to use and a lot of it is coming from 'usability' studies or as the author says 'intelligent' software interfaces.

    1. John Deeb
      Boffin

      AndrueC: " or as the author says 'intelligent' software interfaces."

      They are intelligent but only to the most common denominator of average usage patterns.

      A few times I've managed to trace down unexpected or buggy behaviour from mainstream software like Word to a few changed (to me) unrelated settings or a certain sequence of actions that I found out most people were not using or doing. Of course I'd say I was trying to use the software "intelligently" but as I did discover, the more "stupid" and predictable I tried to use the software in the future, the way less trouble I found myself in.

      An simple example: I like to be very active with my mouse pointer for no reason. Just like to move it around while I'm reading or thinking what to write or click next. Many interfaces seem to expect me to not do that. Otherwise items keep appearing or popping up on pages (especially web pages). Sometimes even setting of some kind of action! Again: intelligent design for "active pages" assuming some "passive" usage pattern. This is exactly the problem with a lot of technology: they try to shape usage in preconceived patterns. It's why I can not operate a smartphone very well compared to kids but have no problem rooting or re-installing another OS on it.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Unhappy

        This is exactly the problem with a lot of technology: they try to shape usage in preconceived patterns.

        As you say - if you drive the software like a noddy you have fewer problems but as soon as you try to drive it like someone who knows what you're doing it starts to go pear-shaped. Perhaps we need a special 'geek' mode where the UI doesn't do anything more than is directly requested by the operator.

        And is this intelligent UI the reason why basic functionality seems flaky now? Going back to text selection - why is that in recent years it's been so easy to miss the first letter off what you want to select? It's like the OS hesitates before accepting what you're doing as a selection. Or how come sometimes the clipboard just doesn't accept new items? It's odd. Back in the 90s the Windows UI seemed fine but it seems to get less responsive and less reliable as time goes on now.

  16. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Death of the sensible UI

      I've just upvoted you. Hmmm, I feel kinda grubby.

      What I miss when using Libre over Word is Libre's implementation of a Document Map-type tool... but having menus makes up for it.

      >And give me a paste-special-unformatted-text button!

      Something like that used to be in Word - 'keep source formatting' or 'match destination formatting'.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. 1Rafayal
      FAIL

      Re: Death of the sensible UI

      And you can do the same in Word 2007 upwards.

      It is rather simple to achieve as well, with very few clicks...

    3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Death of the sensible UI

      I say go back to troff, tbl, eqn, pic and ms or mm macros, edited using emacs.

      No, seriously. I mean it. Take that straight-jacket off of me! I'm a retro-technologist, not mad!

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Death of the sensible UI

        I say go back to troff, tbl, eqn, pic and ms or mm macros, edited using emacs.

        Of course one of the real advantages of markup languages - whether they're from the RUNOFF family (including roff), or the GML family (including IBM Script, SGML, HTML, etc), or the TeX family, or what have you - is that they can be edited in whatever plain-text editor you prefer. Collaborators can use different editors with no mishaps. Authors and copy-editors can use different editing software. (It's also a damned site easier to generate and modify documents using plain-text-manipulating tools and scripting languages.)

        I often use LyX to write documents in LaTeX, but there are times when I just want to pop one into vim and make some quick changes, and it's damned handy to have the option. It's true that with OpenDoc I can unzip the document and edit many of its component parts, but it's an extra step, and the format isn't particularly friendly for direct editing. With OfficeXML, good luck even figuring out what's going on in that poorly-documented "standard" format.

        For HTML, man pages, etc I just edit directly in vim. Markup languages aren't hard to write in if you practice a bit of discipline and use a validator to check for mistakes.

    4. Steve the Cynic
      Joke

      Re: Death of the sensible UI

      "As for the ribbon, it maketh Eadon curse like an unpaid harlot."

      Anything that can do that has to be good.

      1. Mr Young
        Coffee/keyboard

        @Steve

        I'd never thought about the ribbon that way before?

    5. This post has been deleted by its author

    6. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Death of the sensible UI

      And give me a paste-special-unformatted-text button!

      I feel your pain on that but actually Word does have such an option. In 2k7 and later you can even make it the default through the options. It's other apps that don't have it. Microsoft Office Communicator is one such and the horrible HP Quality Control app we have to use used to have it but they took it away.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    7. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: Death of the sensible UI

      >And give me a paste-special-unformatted-text button!

      Give me one of those, too. Although you can set the default behaviour of a paste action:

      http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/32562/make-microsoft-word-always-use-plain-text-for-pasted-text/

      On the plus side, there are add-ons you can get that put the old menu system back as an extra UI. Granted they don't have complete functionality, but they cover 95%+ of what I need.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Death of the sensible UI

        For a one off, or to change how you wanted it pasting depending on what you see in Office 2010, hold down Ctrl as you right click to paste, and you'll see a row of buttons with different paste behavior, you want the 'keep text only' option.

        Alternatively, if you paste from the keyboard, you'll see the paste icon and (Ctrl) appear below the pasted selection, click it or hit Ctrl and you'll see the same icons.

        Very handy indeed.

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      2. TeeCee Gold badge
        Flame

        Re: Death of the sensible UI

        Not too bothered about a "paste special unformatted text" button in Word. Sorting it takes seconds.

        I'd kill for one in Outlook though.

        How can anything take so fucking long to perform a paste action, just 'cos the text you're pasting is formatted? I'm sure that people have died waiting for that to complete.

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    8. M Gale

      Re: Death of the sensible UI

      While Office has taken some pretty huge steps backward with the Ribbon, I would like LO and OO to please, pretty please, take some damned steps forward.

      Really, it's 2013. Do I still have to create a floating frame in order to make tables behave? And for fuxache, just because I type "1." and enter, it does not mean I want a numbered list. Stop it. Right now.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    9. This post has been deleted by its author

    10. Sil
      Pint

      Re: Death of the sensible UI

      You are free to prefer LibreOffice, Latex, Indesign or whatever but don't think for a moment most people agree with you.

      While I personally am not a big Ribbon fan, I have seen in the communication agency where I worked - and where people basically use Office and CS6 all day, that people, who absolutely don't like to change the way they work, after a being skeptical at first, just loved the new Office with the Ribbons. Ditto for the most people I am in contact with professionally. It’s not a big sample I admit but knowing the cost of retraining and the fact that corporations just don’t like to spend money on IT training, I would think they would not upgrade to ribbon-office if they didn’t see any opportunity there.

      Also it is possible to not see the ribbon for the most part and do many things with the contextual menus.

      Word is not perfect, the UI can be improved but it sure can do a lot, from a single page document to a book with thousands of pages.

      BTW There is a paste unformatted text button, it is one right click away. You can also define how you want your paste to work by default - such as unformatted - in many situations such as cut-paste in the document, paste from other source and so forth.

      It’s Friday and I’m off to a beer in a few hours, cheers ^^

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    11. Rol Silver badge

      Re: Death of the sensible UI

      Our office "upgraded" some months ago to this ribbon diseased spectacle and productivity has never recovered.

      I often email my work home, so I can rattle through it at a professional pace, leaving my time at work for more productive things like screaming obscenities at screens of random prettiness, of no use to man nor beast.

      Many years ago I considered computerization of mechanical devices a step forward as it allowed the user to define and redefine the working environment to suit their needs and hence improve output.

      Microsoft, it seems, has gone all retro, insisting on an unnecessarily cumbersome and immoveable environment.

      I want to define my own work space on the planet I have lived on for years, not be shuttled off to a Martian scape with the only choice of "put up and shut up"

      If only Microsoft would listen to the people who buy their products, instead of the people they pay to have an opinion.

  17. batfastad
    Stop

    Tinkering

    I hate all this endless UI tinkering, not just by M$ but everyone. I just find the ribbon so inconsistent, giving priority to functions I don't want to be a priority.

    I still use Office XP (2002) at home and it loads as fast as notepad. That alongside LibreOffice is a winning combination though I tend to find I'm using Libre more and more these days as a result of me finally switching to Linux on my laptop full-time.

  18. Silverburn
    Happy

    Half-life wife

    I might have to get back into Half-life - at least it retains the "wife" title arrangement.

    Switch to black ops, and "wife" becomes "soon-to-be-divorcee". The additional costs this title change entails is not mentioned in any of Activisions T&C's, and users should be made aware. Maybe if they introduced it as an ingame purchase...

  19. Brenda McViking
    Alien

    Conspiracy

    This EXACT thing happened to me yesterday, only in excel 2007. at work. Entire ribbon greyed out, no icons, no menus, nothing. Coincidence?

    *dons tin-foil hat*

    1. FlamingCanuck
      Pint

      Re: Conspiracy

      Maybe my sarcasm filter is off and needs a beer refresh, but surely you jest. Excel greys out options on the ribbon you can't use while you are editing data in a cell

  20. Richard Ball

    obfuscation is not encryption

    Hello, Mr. Dabbs?

    It's Johnny's teacher here... yes, Mrs. Cuck. Hi.

    I'm calling about the funts... yes.

    yes, the cucking funts...

  21. Charles Young

    Probably a memory issue

    The problems you describe are most likely to be related to memory issues, and are probably not anything to do with Word itself. Microsoft is constantly blamed for just about anything that goes wrong on a PC, whether or not the underlying cause is in their control or not. Try closing down other apps and see if the problem goes away.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Probably a memory issue

      I swear that it was Word that broke the handy coffee-cup holder on my desktop PC.

    2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Probably a memory issue

      With respect - in this day and age, is it not reasonable to expect that an application might fail *gracefully* should it run out of memory? (I won't point out the requirement for half a gig of ram to edit a 100k file...)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Probably a memory issue

      Ehhm, isn't blaming "memory issues" exactly the same as blaming "Microsoft"?

      IIRC, Microsoft wrote the MS Windows Operating System underlying the MS Word application (written by Microsoft).

      Here's what's missing (in pseudo code):

      Is there enough memory to do this?

      Yes - Do it.

      No - Work around the issue or present a clear message to the user on why you can't.

      Wasn't this covered in Computer Programming: Part 1?

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Probably a memory issue

        Is there enough memory to do this?

        To play devil's advocate that's probably not want you want to do. The reason being that out of memory is actually a rare condition these days. So constantly checking for it is something of a waste of CPU cycles. What you should do is:

        <try>

        <begin transaction guard>

        <do stuff>

        <end transaction guard>

        <catch>

        <message user about lack of resources>

        <end>

        In other words you react to a rare condition rather than constantly checking for it. Not only avoids wasting CPU cycles but with the transaction guarding (or at least well implemented fixup/tear down) you only have to catch the error in a few places. If you use RAII it mostly falls out of the design as the stack unwinds while the exception propagates back up the stack looking for a handler.

      2. TeeCee Gold badge
        Meh

        Re: Probably a memory issue

        The problem with that approach is that there probably always is enough memory to do it.

        The real issue is invariably that effing great chunks of it are paged on a heavily fragmented disk in a pagefile that's scattered over its surface like shotgun pellets in a burglar's arse.

        Windows rule #1. If it's swapping in regular use, add memory. (Actually this rule applies to any OS that offers disk paging of memory).

        Windows rule #2. If it dies like a piggin' dog while swapping, turn off paging altogether, defrag and turn paging back on when there's a contiguous space large enough to hold the pagefile. Which is where the OS will then duly and gleefully put it. (Power users may wish to just get their paws on a defrag utilty that actually bloody works to replace the abomination supplied as standard and run its offline defrag function to achieve the same effect).

        1. Rol Silver badge

          Re: Probably a memory issue

          The lovely people behind the FREE Linux distro's such as Ubuntu, recognised fragmentation issues while swapping out a creaking memory to HDD, by introducing a swap partition, which obviously has no fragmentation issues.

          Now, they are either really, really, really clever or MS is dumber than a gagged Paris.

          The third option involves MS being in cahoots with hardware churners, which surely can't be?

          1. Ken Hagan Gold badge
            Trollface

            Re: Swap partitions

            And yet ... Everywhere I look I find people saying that you will struggle to measure the performance difference between a swap partition and swap file, at least for any remotely recent kernel version. Perhaps MS were simply ahead of their time.

            1. Rol Silver badge

              Re: Swap partitions

              ..and a swap file in a heavily fragmented drive performs how well?

              I'll answer that for you, it performs horrendously, you might as well hand write your memory in hex and type it back in again when the resources are free.

              The separate partition method ring fences the space for swap files so as to prevent fragmentation and so performs the same on day 1524 as it did on day 1. Obviously a day 1 comparison will show little difference between the approaches and lead the easily lead to conclude MS knows what they're doing.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Swap partitions

                ..and a swap file in a heavily fragmented drive performs how well?

                That might be an issue for Linux, but the Windows paging file is created during OS installation and reserves a contiguous area of disk space with no need to create a separate partition.

        2. Sam Liddicott

          Re: Probably a memory issue

          You know that exceptions still implement a fixup/tear-down don't you?

          And that these have an overhead, sometimes not inconsiderable for a rarely failing event?

          1. AndrueC Silver badge

            Re: Probably a memory issue

            You know that exceptions still implement a fixup/tear-down don't you?

            Of course but you don't wrap every single allocation. You might perform 10,000 allocations but they will be grouped together so you just guard each group. You might even (esp using RAII) be able to get away with just one try..catch() around whatever passes for your main loop. Or your main event handling loop. Depends mainly on the granularity you want.

    4. hplasm Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Probably a memory issue

      So 640k is NOT enough for Word? Seems like an MS problem right enough...

  22. Suburban Inmate
    Black Helicopters

    Just a simple menu.

    Mozilla: NoScript is quick and nimble even on a mangy old dog of a computer.

    Chrome: NotScripts is a stodgy turd of a thing, with the same functionality save for the fact that it draws its own menu. After a little while paging goodness-knows-what. Testament to what a diseased shit-smearing chromosomal clusterfuck Java/Javascript is that that I sigh and put up with it.

    Or is all this stuff an excuse to get people to buy new computers?

  23. tempemeaty

    Features

    It's good to see I'm no alone on this. Buggy UI issues like that seem to come as a feature when running anything on a Windows PC these days. Makes it more of an adventure to get anything done when it really matters.

    For years of using Linux and being used to normal things just working I was in shocked at the poor level of functionality when I pulled a new Windows 7 PC out of it's box and started using it. Windows explorer hanging up and not responding at times, program not responding when renaming files, files dragged into a folder still showing on the desktop and not in the folder it was dragged to until you refreshed the screen. Stupid normal everyday stuff not working very well all the time. Indexing running in the background causing PC to slow until it was disabled. Having issues with thumbnail views of files in folders and having to reboot to clear it up, always having to reboot constantly as a matter of course. Sadly I've also had to assist other people struggling with similar buggy glitches at work on their Windows XP machines too. It seems these "features" are perpetual.

  24. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Happy

    So what else is new?

    Use WordPerfect or LibreOffice - otherwise you can restore the Word toolbars by sprinkling unicorn blood around the anykey.

    1. Dan Beshear
      Pint

      Re: So what else is new?

      Make sure it's unicorn blood and not HORSE blood.

  25. Alex Pepper

    CTRL + F1

  26. Steve May 1
    FAIL

    Change be bad

    IMNSHO, the form and function of any UI is largely irrelevant. The human mind can be made to accept almost any quirky interface. (see any UNIX editor or even the humble QWERTY keyboard.) The material world is full of non-optimal but perennial interfaces. They persist because of the huge associated cost of change. The basic controls for a motor car have been essentially unchanged for almost a century. The modern gas pedal may not be connected to a flap in the carburetter by a mechanical linkage, but all the clever electronics and fuel injection is invisible to the user. If a major car makr were to ONLY offer for sale a new "improved" model which was steered with the feet and accelerated/braked using the knees, to leave the hands free for tweeiing, they'd be laughed out of the market.

    The average user hates change above almost every else. MS Office ceased to be "improved" for most people some time ago. If only they'd kept the store front the same and incrementally improved the parts we can't see. But then they wouldn't be able to exercise their effective monopoly and keep gouging the users.

    1. Rukario
      Stop

      Re: Change be bad

      "a new "improved" model which was steered with the feet and accelerated/braked using the knees, to leave the hands free for tweeiing"

      As opposed to the reverse (accelerating/braking with the feet and steering with the knees) to leave the hands free for tweeting/texting, as we see now?

  27. fung0

    1 Rafayal: "And you can do the same in Word 2007 upwards."

    Do what - customise the toolbar? I hope you're not referring to that miserable handful of squinty little icons you can add, incongruously, to the title bar of the window...?

  28. SharkNose

    I particularly loved how easy Word made it to change a page in the middle of a document to landscape orientation when the rest of the document was in portrait...guaranteed to be 10 minutes of teeth gnashing leading to inevitable urges to throw laptop out of nearest window.

    That said...Pages and Libre/Open Office have nothing to be smug about, they are both equally as crap as Word in many other ways. Tried to change background colour of a page in Pages, but it seems you can't do that...whilst OpenOffice seems to have be written with a key design goal of ensuring the user has to spend a good 10 minutes hunting around menus and ultimately Google to find out how to do something that is immediately apparent in Word...

  29. Bottle_Cap
    Linux

    cucking funts.... PMSL! Word can be a pain in the arse yeah - personally hate the fecking ribbon cos I can never find stuff. Sadly it's still pretty much the best there is at the moment. Libre office is getting there though and does me for most stuff. :)

  30. Tomas K.

    The only people who don't...

    ...cuss out Bill Gates and Microsucks a half-dozen times per day are those who don't turn their PC on.

  31. Feldagast
    Thumb Down

    Now hide the ribbon

    Too bad you cant hide the ribbon as easily as a toolbar. I keep using office 2000 because they haven't made any improvements to the program that I want, they just made it prettier and asked for more money.

  32. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    I reckon problems are bound to crop up from time to time. Word still offers - to those who are willing to actually RTFM and learn how to use it properly - the most flexibility on layout within a document of any of the commercially available word processors.

    Try porting a columnar format from Word to Write and you'll rapidly find out who is the leader of the pack, and I say that as someone who uses OO as my personal office suite. Want two columns on one page and three everywhere else? Word will do that for you without breaking a sweat, but you are the one who'll be sweating before you get it done in OO.

    The CLI products people are pushing here are fine and dandy, but all have a considerable learning curve that people simply will not tolerate - with Microsoft products, which are expected to work perfectly and intuitively out of the box on any platform.

    I'm often cheered by the double standards of the MS bashers. My favourite for years was a colleague who felt Word was a dead loss because it piled acres of styles into any HTML-ified document.

    When I pointed out that there was an easily found switch, well documented, to turn off that behaviour he still ranted about the need. When I told him that the reason for the behaviour was the (to me entirely unreasonable) requirement that any document saved as HTML not only had to look exactly like the Word doc version, but had to be perfectly back-portable with no damage, he still felt it was unreasonable to make him look in the help where the first topic under "Saving as HTML" was "How to turn off the style nonsense" (paraphrased).

    This from a guy who spent months on various BBS learning he hard way how to configure Linux on his laptop.

    Of course the real question here is "Did Mrs D contact anyone at Microsoft to report her problem as a bug so someone could actually get a start on fixing it?"

    No, of course I'm not serious. Everyone knows MS are supposed to guess what your problem de jour is and fix it without the need for actual communication.

    Now if you are complaining about ribbons and daft desktops only suited to slabs being foisted on everyone you've got my vote. Pitchforks and Torches time.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Did Mrs D contact anyone at Microsoft

      Submitting bug reports costs money. MS charge if you want anyone with a clue to read the submission and you only get your money back if they agree with you. That's not a gamble that the average user is prepared to take.

    2. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Bah!

      >> "Did Mrs D contact anyone at Microsoft to report her problem as a bug so someone could actually get a start on fixing it?"

      You're joking, right? Every time a piece of software crashes, you get the option to report it. Has anyone anywhere at any time received an acknowledgement or update on these reports we diligently complete and submit? Of course not. They go straight in the "Whinging Customer" tray next to the shredder.

  33. JDX Gold badge

    Other problem with the browser

    Is it encourages people to make up any old interface rather than use the built-in components everyone understands. Buttons no longer have to press down, no consistent language of UX, etc.

    1. Gavin King

      Re: Other problem with the browser

      I wonder if this is also a result of touch-screens; with a keyboard you (almost always) have buttons to press. With a touch screen there are no actual buttons and so it is not expected that there will be actual motion.

      I speak a little in igonrance, not having much chance to play with touch screens recently, except on the photocopier at work which is not quite the same thing.

      But yes, it would be nice if people would stick to a consistent use of language for these things.

  34. Triggerfish
    Joke

    Usability engineers.

    It strike me that rather than a usability lab full of geeks, they'd be better of releasing it to the admin staff and making the devs sit next to them and explain themselves, every time some poor bugger stares at a doc they're working on and crys out "Whyyyy?".

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Feedback?

    The bodding sastards are not interested in what we think.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Feedback?

      That's right, they hire experts on this sort of thing. When you let a regular person - a manager running a startup project for instance - design the UI it ends up FAR worse. When you let programmers design the UI, you get 19 levels of menus, with options like "abstraction 4" and "go!!", or just a lot of key-codes you have to memorise.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        WTF?

        Re: Experts?

        Experts were responsible for Metro? For Unity?

  36. Tikimon Silver badge
    Pint

    Crap SW design keeps me employed!

    I'm an all-purpose IT geek for a 40-person non-profit. I always tell my users, "It's not your fault, you're NOT stupid. It's a confusing interface designed to make money, not to make your life better." Word 95 did everything 97% of the world needed. Bolting on unwanted features to justify an "upgrade" is a standard M$ business model. They really don't CARE if it's easy to use use or if anyone likes it.

    Therein lies the root of the problem. Nobody builds better mousetraps and waits for the stampede of sales to a good product. Instead they try to "position the company" for various marketing notions, and expect everyone to buy the resulting shite because... well, they need us to. It's a crap business plan that gave us Vista and Windows 8, among other abominations. M$ is hardly alone in this.

    My continued employment depends to a large degree on software and hardware designers failing to do a good job. My future employment seems pretty secure.

  37. Paul 135

    Don't understand the hate

    I am trying to transition away from Microsoft products these days towards Linux (after the fail that is Windows 8). However, I don't understand the hate here for Word. Word is one of their better products, and I have much more frustration trying to use LibreOffice than I do with Microsoft Office (e.g. in LibreOffice Writer I can't even crop an image visually, images pasted from the web are linked by default etc. Etc.).

    I do agree though with these excessively minimal UIs getting on your nerves, though I think for more minimal interfaces you need to have a bit more intelligence when designing the UI. E.g. I think Microsoft have done a bad job with IE9/10 -- it tries so hard to be minimal that it ends up cramped. (and has really illlogical menus now e.g. most items under tge "File" menu now have absolutely nothing to do with files or filing). Firefox does a better job, but they should really have kept the status bar by default with more info IMO.

    One truly excellent example of more minimal design, however, is KDE's Dolphin File Manager. It gets the balance just perfect IMO and really puts the cluttered mess of Windows 8's new ribbon based File Explorer to shame.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't understand the hate

      it's because Word is just dreadful. Word is Microsoft's ultimate do-it-our-way-or-not-at-all victory.

      I've ranted too often about word. The bad news is that Libre Office takes Word as its inspiration and creates something much worse.

      Perhaps Microsoft's victory was in destroying the whole concept of a powerful word processor that does what the user wants, exactly, and not what its authors think the user should want.

      Hmmm... it looks like I'm writing a rant, I wonder if I need help with this?

  38. Terry 6 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Evil Genius

    Design a user interface that gives the most important commands a default behaviour that is much more complicated than most users want, and make sure that these are easy to find. Then hide the method to change that behaviour on a totally different menu list, three levels down and greyed out unless you follow a strange sequence of selections first..

    Next, put all the possible commands onto a "ribbon" that can't be edited to get rid of stuff you will never use or move items if they are not where you expect them to be, but makes you create new sections that have to be built from the ground up to create the menu you are actually going to use, if only you could find the items you need.

    Sit back and watch productivity plummet.

    (Too much Phinius and Ferb?)

    1. JaimieV

      Re: Evil Genius

      I have known people for whom the ribbon actually works - I suspect it's that they're following one of the ~sixish workflows that the ribbon is designed to support.

      For eeryone else, it's a bag of arse. My own WP work always means chopping and changing between different ribbons, so it's a complete nonsense. So I gave up on Word, except for when adding review comments to someone else's doc (which I think is one of those workflows).

  39. Herby

    Microsoft's motto:

    Change for change sake. Or how we force people to upgrade by adding in non-compatible options.

    Why?? To make money.

    Look at it this way: Typewriters really haven't changed in over 100 years, and everyone knows how they work. You hit a key and it makes a mark on paper. The keyboard is pretty standard (yes, I know regional differences), but it works. The "additions" mostly have been in the amount of force needed to make the impression, and the various methods to change fonts (if you can at all). I'd be willing to bet that any user of a typewriter today (if you can find them) can probably use a typewriter of 100 years ago with little (most likely no) additional training. The reverse is true as well, but the examples are more difficult to achieve. Take a user of a typewriter 100 years ago, and plunk them down in front to a modern one (again if you can find one) and they will be good to go.

    I suspect there would be similar experiences for automobiles.

    Now take a word processor (please). Go back to a modern windowing environment, say Windows 95 (it is only 15+ years!). Try to be usable by such a person then and now without any training. Good luck.

  40. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    "This is blatantly not intended behaviour...The software runs on a staggering range of hardware, sometimes it's going to go wrong."

    It's up to the OS to abstract the differences away. And it sounds like it did, this really doesn't sound like it was some driver problem or something, but a bug in office itself.

    "No idea what machine the authors Mrs. is using, but sounds like a common thing that happens when your trying to use some poor, underpowered machine like a Netbook, not specific to Word necessarily."

    If software's behavior changes based on computer speed (other than running slower), that is straight up a bug -- probably a race condition. I have never seen any odd behavior, and I'm using a 1.33ghz Atom netbook. I am, however, running no Microsoft products -- Ubuntu runs a treat on it. That said, I do have a Win7 VM in VirtualBox with Office 2013 on it (for Access development... don't get me started) and I have not noticed this type of behavior. If that doesn't trigger it I don't think it's speed related 8-)

  41. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    "The separate partition method ring fences the space for swap files so as to prevent fragmentation and so performs the same on day 1524 as it did on day 1. Obviously a day 1 comparison will show little difference between the approaches and lead the easily lead to conclude MS knows what they're doing."

    Well, a swap file will perform the same on day 1524 as it did on day 1 too. If you make the swap file when the file system is pretty "fresh" it won't be fragmented. If you make one when the disk is virtually full and has been used a bit, it'll probably be pretty fragmented. I favor swap partitions too, but it really isn't bad if you make the swapfile before you fill your hard disk. In Microsoft's case, of course, they keep resizing the swap dynamically, so this seems like it'd be pretty bad for fragmentation.

    "However, I don't understand the hate here for Word. Word is one of their better products, and I have much more frustration trying to use LibreOffice than I do with Microsoft Office (e.g. in LibreOffice Writer I can't even crop an image visually, images pasted from the web are linked by default etc. Etc.)."

    For me one frustration is that there had been better word processors on the market -- Wordperfect and Amipro were both quite nice -- but Microsoft forced them out of business. (They had Office down to like $75 while they put their competitors out of business, then raised it back to like $400 or whatever.) Other word processors were faster, smaller, got right to the point, allowed more formatting control; Wordperfect's equation editor was pretty incredible. I haven't had problems with LibreOffice, but as a basically clone of Office I'm not particularly in love with it either. I really can't say anything good about the ribbon either. I know some people like it, but I think it's rubbish.

  42. StooMonster
    Go

    Best version of Word

    Word 5.1a on Mac FTW, been downhill with every subsequent version.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and where are my floating toolbars gone?

    It's unbelievable Microsoft killed floating toolbars. Powerpoint interrupts my flow every time I have to look for the "align ..." menu option buried in a third level menu. These days I get finger cramps because MS makes me click so much!

  44. jake Silver badge

    @Alistair

    It's a combination of the Windows Swapfile & the Registry living on the same partiton as the OS and the User directories on a heavily used system. Windows gets confused. I've been seeing this since Win3.1

    In IDE terms, the cure is : OS on controller1, spindle1, partition1 (with a backup on partition2) ... Registry on controller1, spindle2, partition1 (with a rolling backup on partition2) ... Swapfile on controller2, spindle1, partition1(can also be used as a Linux swapfile, but that's another story) ... and last but not least, user data on controller 2, spindle 2, partition1 (daily backups on partions 2-6, with external backups on odd days).

    The OS isn't slowed down by the second drive (spindle) being accessed for registry contents, and the swapfile and user data are rarely called for by the OS at the same time. It's ugly, but it works.

    1. JaimieV

      Re: @Alistair

      Or just bang the lot on an SSD (plus a spindle for the backups) and leave it be.

  45. TheOldFellow

    This is exactly why I use Linux, and recommend it to everyone. Not that it's any better, but there are far more ways for it to be entertaining. I am still looking for the 'random' plugin for Grub, so that I can't predict which of the several versions of Linux on my disks it will load - once I find it I will install it on all my client's machines. No one wants computers to become as predictable as journalists, after all.

  46. TimChuma
    Thumb Down

    Office 2000

    Why upgrade? No, I do not want "to use Office on the Cloud".

    DOCX format can go jump also.

    I still remember the trick to be able to use Access 97 and 2000 on the same computer, you had to rename a font to be able to install both.

    1. Fihart

      Re: Office 2000

      @ TimChuma

      I reply to emails containing DOCX attachments that I cannot read non-standard document formats and the sender should reopen their document in Word and save in .DOC format and resubmit their attachment to me in that form.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Office 2000

        Good luck with that approach in your next job application...

        1. Fihart

          Re: Office 2000

          As a senior ad copywriter once told me "I don't apply for jobs, they apply for me".

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Windows

    Me?

    I use notepad and wordpad......

  48. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Mushroom

    How the ribbon was chosen?

    I suspect the ribbon was chosen by some "Executive Assistant" that has a loud voice, poor choice in cologne, an IQ of 99, and no technical experience or common sense whatsoever, but has the ear of someone powerful due to either blackmail, a carnal weakness of the said exec, or the fact that the person she or he serves is even more bubble-headed.

    At least that's the way far reaching IT decisions seem to be made at the company I work for. The sad thing is that even when someday the incompetence and general worthlessness of this said assistant comes to light, and they have gone on to wreak havoc at another company, we will still be living with the repercussions of their reign of terror a decade later...

    1. JaimieV

      Re: How the ribbon was chosen?

      Steven Sinofsky, according to http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/01/30/office_2013_perspective/ - so yes, really.

  49. COMPUTERJOCK

    Office 13 - best yet

    In version 13 you can auto hide the ribbon, and Word looks like the Word of old. One click, and a rich set of commands appear. The only difference is that there are more options, and the menu choices are horizontal instead of vertical. Love it, best version yet.

    As for lists, they work fine if you know what you are doing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Office 13 - best yet

      "As for lists, they work fine if you know what you are doing."

      Only in some version I have never used.

  50. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. COMPUTERJOCK
      FAIL

      Re: Ribbon exists to create MS Office LOCK-IN

      You can auto-hide the Office 13 ribbon display, and if you do the menu bar at the top takes up no more screen space than Word 2000.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lame

    I read a bit and sorry bud but loser sprang to mind.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Lame

      >> I read a bit and sorry bud but loser sprang to mind.

      Strange, I don't feel the slightest bit insulted. I wonder why that could be.

  52. Barry Rueger

    Word? LibreOffice? LaTeX? Pfft

    WordPerfect 5.1 STILL rules them all.

    As long as you have your big fat copy of Acerson close at hand....

    1. Fihart

      Re: Word? LibreOffice? LaTeX? Pfft

      @ Barry Rueger

      Like Wordperfect ? You'll love Wordstar. It had whole grain DOS crunchiness !

      1. Alistair Dabbs

        Re: Word? LibreOffice? LaTeX? Pfft

        Ah, WordStar... all that fiddly blocking of text with Control-Ks...

    2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  53. Tim036

    Makes LibreOffice and the like a very creditable alternative !

    I hate context sensitive info. Its like hidding a steering wheel on a staight road ! Who would want car like that !

    A text editor called 'Kate' moved the 'Print' off the toolbar a year or so ago, another 'own goal' !

    Tim

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Makes LibreOffice and the like a very creditable alternative !

      >> I hate context sensitive info. Its like hidding a steering wheel on a staight road

      Well, I regard content sensitivity as showing you the steering wheel but hiding the spark plugs. Dontcha love analogies?

  54. qzdave
    Angel

    Libre Office

    Libre Office. Much, much quicker than MS on my Mac. I still have MS office for customer facing work when the formatting has to be exact. But the speed of Libre for quick and dirty work has helped enormously.

  55. YesBut

    I think it's funny

    I'm sending this article to my husband, who regularly has to deal with a wife who is utterly infuriated by the illogic of computer applications, and the sudden disappearance of something she was just working on, a minute ago. He thinks I'm a jinx, and it's related to the fact that watches never worked for me when I was a teen. I don't really care what causes it, I just want it to stop pissing around with my stuff.

    Complaints do not get heard unless somebody makes them public. This is a humourous way to describe the frustrations of dealing with stuff that somebody somewhere thought might be a good idea. And that somebody has never actually tried to use the software in a work situation, and probably hates women, too.

    Speaking of which, I see no female icon to post on this so it will go naked.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  56. druck Silver badge

    Feature of Bug

    At least the toolbars dispersing was a 'feature', using Libra Office Calc last night on a spreadsheet originally from Excel, the cell column labels kept being replaced by the first row and contents of some cells changed randomly between 3 numbers and 3 hashes. I suspect it is due a bug in Calc not handling the cell protection added in Excel, looks like I'm going to have to export just numbers and formulas to a new sheet to get rid of any latent problems.

  57. John 62

    Spoonerism or Bowdlerism

    I thought a Spoonerism was some sort of political philosophy thing.

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