back to article My Microsoft Office 365 woes: Constant crashes, malware macros – and settings from Hell

Microsoft Office remains one of the most important software products available, despite some rather nasty flaws. For me, Microsoft Office and video games anchor me to Windows. While video games seem set to remain largely Windows-only for the foreseeable future, Office is losing its grip. For a long time, I used Office because …

  1. patrickstar

    Uhm, last time I checked, or rather last time fetchmail ran on my Sun workstation (i.e. a couple of minutes ago), Office 365 had a perfectly good POP3/IMAP server...?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Last time I checked you only get mail off of POP3 or IMAP, and none of the calendaring, contacts and so forth that I actually need. Especially that I need to persist across multiple devices in real time.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        alternate mail/calendar client

        couldn't something like Thunderbird or Evolution do what you want? Thunderbird works very well for POP and IMAP, and I haven't seen anything in the calendar extension for Thunderbird that lacks usability. So maybe the thing you want is an even BIGGER/BETTER calendar extension for T-bird? There might be one available. It's worth checking into, I think.

        I've been using Open/Libre office on non-windows systems for a long time. It does what I need, and seems to have BETTER compatibility for "that type of document", i.e. NOT being forced to "UP"grade just to read a particular document format. I had that happen with Office '95, so I bought '97, and ended up with (@#$*(&^(*@#$) CLIPPY on my desktop, when '95 worked perfectly well. Eventually, '97 stopped working properly with XP machines that had 1Gb or more of RAM, so I simply started using Open/Libre Office on Windows machines as well. I *NEVER* went back.

        seems like "lack of a mail client" that you like is a nice OPPORTUNITY for the Mozilla project, or for T-bird addon makers. I'm sure that a 'pay for' add-on is WAY cheaper than your 365 subscription.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: alternate mail/calendar client

          'seems like "lack of a mail client" that you like is a nice OPPORTUNITY for the Mozilla project, or for T-bird addon makers.'

          Mozilla seems to be trying to get rid of T'Bird. There was discussion of LibreOffice picking it up.

        2. Orv Silver badge

          Re: alternate mail/calendar client

          The problem comes when you need to interoperate with Exchange users. They have their own, proprietary calendar protocol that nothing else speaks well. You *can* send invitations back and forth, and they'll sort of work, but you can't get free/busy information or any of the other things that corporate calendaring systems rely on.

          In general calendaring is still a set of walled gardens, with everyone having to be on the same vendor's system for things to work. Even stuff that should work together in theory, like iCal and Google Calendar, mostly only works one way. (You can sync from Google to iCal, but iCal can't sync changes back.)

          1. TraceyC

            Re: alternate mail/calendar client

            It's true that finding something that isn't Outlook which will play well with Exchange is difficult, but it's not impossible. At the office, I've used both Evolution and Thunderbird (with an addon called "Exchange EWS Provider") to interact with Exchange calendaring. I can see free/busy information and I can reply to calendar invites. Both clients also have full IMAP support. Ironically I have less problems with Exchange than my Mac using colleagues do with iCal.

            I'm hoping another outfit adopts Thunderbird and gives it the love it needs to improve. Like the author, I've done periodic research into different email clients and haven't found an alternative I like better that's cross-platform.

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: alternate mail/calendar client

              I've tried the Exchange EWS provider. It's picky. It's usable if you sacrifice enough virgins to it and don't look at it funny, but not what I'd call stable. I never understood this because Android can talk to Exchange without any problems whatsoever, so I never got why Thunderbird would only update the calendar when it felt like it.

              Also: trying to sync both exchange and gmail calendars on the same Thunderbird? This ends very badly. With Outlook I can use gsyncit. Not the greatest, but it mostly works. I have yet to convince Thunderbird to play ball. :(

  2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    "surely the whole world can't be wrong?"

    Is a comment I frequently encounter when I advocate the use of open source software to run a company's office/email needs. It reminds me of "nobody got fired for buying IBM kit".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "surely the whole world can't be wrong?"

      Simple: sticking your neck out. Obviously IBM kit is good because they look credible. Actually you can replace IBM kit for any other good looking commercial thingamagick.

      Open source is scary because you actually need to know what the heck you're talking about. And if the shit does hit the fan then it'll be on your plate. Because you took it "as is". Obvious result: "Its not my responsibility IBM kit no workie, we need to sue! (and not fire me for not doing my homework)".

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: "if the shit does hit the fan"

        The great thing about much open-source software is that there's no big deal about rescuing data if shit should meet fan. Data is usually in a form that can be recovered, and reinstalling an open-source application is generally a doddle.

        Compare this with Office 2016 where reinstallation following some hiccup takes hours, followed by the hoops required to convince MS that you are entitled to perform the reinstallation and activate the software. Oh, and has one ever had to use the Inbox Repair Tool?

        1. jason 7 Silver badge

          Re: "if the shit does hit the fan"

          "Office 2016 where reinstallation following some hiccup takes hours, followed by the hoops required to convince MS that you are entitled to perform the reinstallation and activate the software"

          Actually had to do that twice this week. Both times took around 10 minutes from start to finish. This was the complete reinstall/repair option. All sorted.

          Something might be wrong at your end.

          1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

            Re: "if the shit does hit the fan" Something might be wrong at your end.

            Ok, perhaps you were lucky. Let me elaborate, with two examples:-

            (1) My client bought a handful of pc's from a big, very reputable manufacturer. Office 2016 was bundled on them and the licence keys arrived separately in "sealed" cardboard envelopes. (The "seal" was the standard packaging tape you can buy from a typical stationers, once the cardboard packaging was opened the product keys were clearly visible through a sealed plastic envelope). Initial installation went seamlessly and I successfully activated MS Office. A week later my client was saying that the package would disable if not activated within x days.

            MS servers seemed to either have amnesia over the details I'd originally used to activate the software, or I was being told that this particular key had been used too many times. This choice of response was inconsistent depending on the steps by which I troubleshooted this issue and so I reinstalled MS Office after trying to get hold of a support representative. This caused similar messages.

            It turned out that there was an alleged possibility that the product keys had been eyeballed and used by third parties at some stage between manufacture and receipt by my client.

            The period between installation and final resolution of the problem was measured in DAYS, not minutes.

            (2) A client came in one morning to find their pc had been upgraded [sic] to Windows 10. "Ugh, what's this?" she asked. I put it back to Windows 7 again (no problem there), but Office 16 got the right hump and refused to work. Got it working again after some coaxing :-

            "If you are experiencing problems with your application, try uninstalling and reinstalling it."

            Uninstall Office16.

            Error: Office 16 is not installed.

            Install Office 16.

            Error: Office 16 cannot be installed as it is already installed.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "if the shit does hit the fan"

            Always blame the user, not the billion dollar outfit that created the damn thing...

          3. razorfishsl

            Re: "if the shit does hit the fan"

            Not if you are utilising all of m$ with several GB of email ...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "if the shit does hit the fan"

          Interestingly it seems nobody with pointy hair or a suit ever seems to want to commit to their data having value when a Microsoft product destroys it.

          If Firefox has as much as a hiccup and they throw a hissy fit, but losing their entire career's worth of everything because of a Microsoft product upgrade means nothing.

          Sometimes I can even detect some guilty sense of relief, that all the crap they ever produced is now gone without chance of recovery, so none of it can come to haunt them...

        3. CGarison

          Re: "if the shit does hit the fan"

          I had a 'licensing issue' arise on my PC Sunday night and ended up having to re-install the OS and everything from scratch including MS Office. On my MAC, my Office constantly fails if the computer is not connected to the internet to validate the licensing although I have not had to reinstall the software due to a license validation issue yet. But in the case of the PC, the installer software has been buggy in the past and common functionality (like clicking a file to open the corresponding Office application) has failed due to the Office 2016 to Office 2013 upgrade process not working in Windows 10. In order to sort out that mess, it took a clean install of the OS to get 2016 to install correctly. Not a great product if you ask me.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "surely the whole world can't be wrong?"

        "Its not my responsibility IBM kit no workie, we need to sue!"

        Ignoring the facts that their lawyers are bigger than yours and that no lawyer has yet been able to fix a tech problem.

      3. Hans 1 Silver badge

        Re: "surely the whole world can't be wrong?"

        > And if the shit does hit the fan then it'll be on your plate. Because you took it "as is".

        How is that different to MS telling me to piss off - I PAY (my client pays) FSCK'ing dosh to MS Support to get told to F off ???? HELLO???? Don't get me wrong, this was for a customer's file server that was paging like shit ... with 32Gb of RAM ... I repeat, Windows 2008 R2 file server, paging the shit while having 32Gb of RAM ... I replaced that box with Suse, 4Gb of RAM, CPU 5 years older ... customer happy. We put Suse on the former Windows file server with a bunch of containers ...

        yes, customer pays Shitloads for me to come over and fix shit, but I have always made sure I replace at least one MS server, so they recoup their expenses for me ... What I work, MS loses 10 fold in cash flow!

        PS: I hate Suse, with a passion, but customer wanted that ... I would have unleashed Jessie!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "surely the whole world can't be wrong?"

      Nobody got fired for buying IBM..

      I know plenty of people that got fired for buying IBM lotus notes and IBM CM Synergy...

      The point is, things change. 15 years ago, Microsoft and IBM were safe purchases, those days are long gone.

      Take a look how poor TFS is compared to Atlassian suite.

      Take a look at how poor internet explorer and edge are compared to google chrome

    3. ColonelDare

      Re: "surely the whole world can't be wrong?"

      > [Maybe] ...the whole world-28 can't be wrong?

      Judging by the 28 'up' votes when I last looked.

      [ exclusively an OO/LO user for the last 7 years and love it - even on my Chromebook + Crouton ]

  3. Dadmin
    Meh

    Tell me what you want to do...

    I'm not Clippy hiding behind a search box to make you think I'm a modern interface object... nope, that's some other well-hated e-helper from the 1990s trying to keep current. Not me. New PC?

  4. ma1010 Silver badge
    Happy

    Thunderbird with Lightening

    When I moved to Linux, I was suffering from Outlook withdrawal, too. I solved it by using Thunderbird with Lightening and (a bit of evil here) hooked the calendar to Google Calendar. This gave me email, calendar and tasks with the added advantage of having my phone calendar (I use "aCalendar" on Android, also hooked to Google) sync with computer one.

    I was even able to find a third-party tool to convert all my Outlook email into a file Thunderbird could read and was able to import everything in all my archives.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

      "I was...my Outlook email into a file Thunderbird could read"

      That is a damn sight better than Google managed with tools to import stuff to Gmail

      1. John 104

        Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

        Vsio

        When I installed O365 it wouldn't let me install my 2013 version of Visio. Said it wasn't compatible. After much tinkering and experimenting, I found that if I installed Visio and then installed 365 it would work. What a pain.

        TBH, the only reason I use windows on my personal machine is for VPN to the office and Visio. The rest I can do on mint.

        Email client? Meh. I use web mail and it isn't an issue.

        I'm not so sure that your assessment of games is entirely true. More and more games are being made available for linux platforms. As Windoze continues to get worse and worse, I see this trend continuing.

        Unfortunately, I am a windows sys admin and work in a windows shop. So its windoze all day during the work week.

        1. CanadianMacFan

          Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

          Have you thought about putting your Windows installation in a virtual machine on your personal machine and installing Mint on it? There's VirtualBox that you can use for free to do this. (I think it will run on there, I'm only running it on my Mac to run an older version of Mac OS so that I can run an old version of Quicken that won't run on new versions of Mac OS. The refuse to buy the newer versions of Quicken because they really cut back on the functionality.)

          I had a contract quite a while ago where I needed to use Windows to VPN into a telco and I ran the Windows instance on a virtual machine on my Linux laptop. The added bonus by doing it this way was that the VPN didn't take over my access to the Internet as I was communicating with a telephone switch via the VPN and didn't have Internet access through there. On the Linux side I still had Internet connectivity and in the Windows VM I could still do my tests on the switch.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

            What does putting my Windows installation in a VM do for me? How does this benefit me?

            Also: if I do that, I can't play games.

            1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

              Re: What does putting my Windows installation in a VM do for me?

              1) Allows multiple VMs to avoid the "this version of X won't coexist with that version of Y" sort of shit.

              2) You can have email / web on Linux with (for the foreseeable future) less total risk than on Windows especially if you use apparmor on the browser, etc.. Though of course having a Linux VM on Windows could also do that.

              3) Deters advanced malware from running if it detects your copy of Word, etc, is running in a VM that could be used for analysis.

              4) The VM can be moved across hardware platforms during upgrades without the shitty business of re-registering it with MS.

              5) In a decade's time the VM's internals (probably) look the same even though you are 3 generations of hardware down the line so you don't get a "sorry Dave, I can't let you run this OS on unknown hardware" sort of problem.

              But for games then dual-boot otherwise performance will suck big time for intensive graphics.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: What does putting my Windows installation in a VM do for me?

                You would need multiple license of Windows (and other software) to make it work, and I never found having to boot and maintain multiple VMs a good way to work but for secondary or specific tasks.

              2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                Re: What does putting my Windows installation in a VM do for me?

                1) That's what containers are for. I'm investigating those instead for this use.

                2a) We're back to "there isn't a Linux mail client that does what I want".

                2bi)Or I could just run browsers with defences. Which, you know, I'd need under Linux anyways.

                2bii)Or I could run LINUX in the VM for browsing, since it is lighter weight.

                2biii)Of course, if I have my browser in a different OS from my mail, etc, it makes it a pain in the ass to open links.

                3)If the malware has gotten far enough into my computer that it detects it is in a VM and decides not to run, I've already really fucked up somewhere. Rather keep the stuff a little farther out, thanks.

                4) This is indeed an advantage. Unfortunately, the reliance of modern MS client software on hardware acceleration has really put a damper on this.

                5) This is indeed an advantage. Unfortunately, Microsoft's constantly shifting formats mean I'll have to run the latest software, which may require the latest OS, which...

                ...goddamn it, I hate Microsoft.

                1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

                  Re: What does putting my Windows installation in a VM do for me?

                  1) Probably - not had to look at that so far. But VMs also cover OS version/patch-level screw-ups in dependency...

                  2biii) If you mean opening a web page, no that is fine as email & web on Linux (assuming you sort out a client, of course). If you mean opening a word doc directly from email, maybe that limitation is a blessing in disguise?

                  3) True, but accepting the generally crap state of AV tools so far, I would rather like the *smart* malware to fall at this final hurdle.

                  5) For keeping up with new, yes. But what of supporting clients that stick to Office 2003 (or 97)? In that case you may well keep going for new OS but still want to keep an old OS and software on hand.

                  1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                    Re: What does putting my Windows installation in a VM do for me?

                    1) So do backups. It's not like the bad patch thing is monthly. Especially not if you delay a week or two to let the uninformed through the minefield first.

                    2biii) that's all predicated on actually finding a Linux client. So far, no fun.'

                    3) Funny, I'd rather know that I'm infected. Smart malware, dumb malware...if there's a chink in my armour, I want air raid sirens and flashing lights and a world ending almighty push to find out how that SOB crawled in and then go build another wall.

                    5) If I could stick with Office 2003, I wouldn't have any of the problems from the article, now would I? I *love* Office 2003. It was the pinnacle of productivity software. That inability to read modern formats, however, means pretty much anyone who isn't a self-obsessed dickbag (I need to you put that in an older format) needs to use latest greatest. Securing old software is easy. Coping with the shitty bugs of new software is hard.

                2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

                  Re: What does putting my Windows installation in a VM do for me?

                  2bi) Yes, most browsers support some sort of sandbox protection mechanism. But I quite like apparmor as its a separate protection mechanism (so two steps to p0wning your PC), and it allows you to define *where* the process is allowed to read and/or to write.

                  That is a nice feature, so you can't have a compromised browser encrypting your files outside of, say, ~/Downloads, nor reading sensitive stuff (say ~/.ssh contents) and sending to some Bad Guy even though it has the same nominal privileges as your own account. Also it can't overwrite your .bashrc file or similar (in your name) and it has two levels to breach to overwrite system files in order to permanently p0wn the machine for a single account or for everyone.

                  Sure I know its not perfect, but defence is all about layers. Just like Ogres have...

              3. bombastic bob Silver badge

                Re: What does putting my Windows installation in a VM do for me?

                6) makes it much easier to do a "whole system" backup and restore of a VM by essentially cloning the virtual hard drive.

              4. Orv Silver badge

                Re: What does putting my Windows installation in a VM do for me?

                Either way (VM or dual boot) you're not stuck with maintaining two OS's instead of one. Not a win, IMHO. I've done it before and found it not worth the trouble.

                1. Jakester

                  Re: What does putting my Windows installation in a VM do for me?

                  I generally run Windows in a VM for most of my Windows tasks. My standard configuration is Ubuntu (currently version 16.04) desktop and Windows running in a Virtualbox VM. The big advantage is if you get hit by a virus or suspect of getting hit with a virus, all you have to do is restore the VM to a previous snapshot. I generally make a new shapshot every 3-12 weeks, keeping 2 or 3 of the most recent and a couple really old ones in case things have really gone south.

                  With such a VM, you can sandbox the VM from the internet, if desired, but still access networked or local files with shared folders.

                  Other reasons you may have to go back to a previous snapshot is a program installation or de-installation gone bad. Recovery takes seconds, not hours.

                  Maintenance of most Linux installations is usually very straight-forward and not time consuming. I have found that Windows 10, despite of its shortcomings, is also fairly easy to maintain, usually taking minutes instead of the hours (and sometimes days) Windows 7 would sometimes take to perform updates -- I once had Windows 7 take 2 days to finally discover that it had to download and install one update before it could find and install another 20 or so.

                  Bottom line -while some may not find maintaining 2 (or more) operating systems worth the trouble, I find it very comforting with the security of being able to restore to a previous state very rapidly. The Microsoft method of going back to a 'Restore Point' is iffy at the very best, often not able to get close to the configuration of what should be at the Restore Point. With a VM, even the nastiest of virus/malware infections can be permanently deleted by going back to a clean snapshot.

            2. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

              Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

              if I do that, I can't play games.

              Of course you can. Give Windows exclusive access to a GPU then all games will work, just like they do on bare metal. That's how I do it a home, look for "GPU passthrough". You will need modern Linux kernel and relatively recent version of qemu or Xen. Also not all GPUs work well and specifix CPU and motherboard features are required to support it (VT-d and IOMMU). Which is a bit of a bother, I agree.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

                Trying to make games run well into a VM is just looking for unnecessary troubles. You can probably make them work, but you will still have unnecessary levels of translation and transitions, when you just want them to run smoothly and fast. If all you need to run is Candy Crush maybe it's ok, for most demanding games is just a waste of time.

                1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                  Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

                  Yeah; twitch games in a VM make Trevor a sad panda.

                2. P. Lee Silver badge

                  Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

                  >Trying to make games run well into a VM is just looking for unnecessary troubles.

                  Most of the games I get run on Linux, but many systems come with some OEM version of windows or other. A windows partition is a small price to pay if that's important to you. Windows in a VM with exclusive access to the GPU is a great goal, but I don't think that ranks as an easy-enough solution for most people.

              2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

                Funny, I've experimented extensively with this and it doesn't work worth a damn.

                ...especially for Crossfire.

                1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

                  Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

                  @Trevor maybe it's time to experiment again. I can share my experience if you want.

                  1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                    Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

                    If you have the super secret magical combination of Thunderbird-based stuff that Actually Fucking Works with Exchange and is still actively maintained, I'd love to try it. I played this game a year ago and damned near through the notebook out the window, the whole experience was so frustrating.

            3. jason 7 Silver badge

              Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

              VMs are great but to be honest I can't help feeling those that think running a machine within a machine within a machine to do one task, when you could actually just swallow a little pride and just use bloody Windows in the first instance, are making a bit of a rod for their back.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

                "VMs are great but to be honest I can't help feeling those that think running a machine within a machine within a machine to do one task, when you could actually just swallow a little pride and just use bloody Windows in the first instance, are making a bit of a rod for their back."

                VMs are great but to be honest I can't help feeling those that think running a machine within a machine within a machine to do one task, when you could actually just swallow a little pride and just use anything but bloody Windows in the first instance, are making a bit of a rod for their back.

                I feel sure this is what you meant.

              2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

                "you could actually just swallow a little pride and just use bloody Windows in the first instance, are making a bit of a rod for their back."

                That way Microsoft make a rod for your back.

            4. Avatar of They
              Thumb Up

              Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

              Try VM player from VMware, their workstation thingy. I use Windows 7 on a VM, 8GB RAM VM player does 3d graphics with 1GB of that RAM.

              I use it on a Linux laptop with no actual GFX (Intel Iris on board) but it runs quite a few newish games.

              1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

                You must not do much inside a VM that's graphics intensive. Response times in all the available platforms are terrible, and nothing supports Crossfire. Good luck playing Battlefield 4, Company of Heroes or the latest Quake. Especially if you want to win...

                1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

                  Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

                  @Trevor I am able to play Witcher 3 at max settings and butterry smooth, no issues at all. Are you sure you tried proper GPU passthrough?

                  1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                    Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

                    Absolutely. On multiple products. It's also worth pointing out that what each or any of us considered "smooth" might be choppy or unusable to others. I, for example, find anything slower than 60fps unusable and I tend to be picky about my mice because some setups - certain wireless USB mice, for example - have noticeable (to me, at least) lag when compared to wired PS/2 mice.

                    Compared to Josh, however, I might as well be playing a slideshow. For him, anything under 120 FPS is unusable and he's picky about which PS/2 mice he uses because lag matters that much.

                    Maybe you found a magic combination of hardware and software that works great. If so, congrats! For me, I haven't had such luck so far. And I'm far too poor to rebuy all my gaming gear. To date, none of the software produces anything usable for me, and I cycle through and retry every 8 months or so.

                    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

                      Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

                      OK so I do have reasonably powerful hardware (what one would call "workstation range" rather than regular desktop PC, with two expensive Quadro GPUs and two Xeon CPUs) and it is running two "gaming class" Windows VMs at the same time, and a number of Linux VMs, and also relatively large ZFS filesystem for VMs to use (which is not relevant here). As for the software side, I am running libvirt 1.3.5 , qemu 2.6 , kernel 4.4.15 (vanilla flavour, i.e. no patches), all setup as instructed by Alex Williamson with OVMF. It is possible to use regular GeForce cards and some AMD models for GPU passthrough as well, however there are gotchas. I guess that might be stopping you, if you are unwilling to shell out for Quadro (or "hack" an old GeForce card) or find the right AMD model, most of them suffer from reset issues.

        2. Strahd Ivarius

          Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

          I have been working on O365 deployments for some time now, and it is difficult to understand MS strategy about Visio/Project.

          At first it was said that you couldn't install a standard version of Visio at the same time as the virtualized version (since O365 is only an App-V variant of Office).

          Then it was possible, but not supported, if you did the installation in a specific way.

          Last time I checked it was possible without tinkering but only if you had the 2013 version for Visio/Project and the 2016 version for O365.

          And if you look at the configuration files for deployment, MS keeps changing the parameters (even the names for the various branches) ensuring that from one month to the following you may have to review all your setups to ensure that they keep working as intended...

          Perhaps in one year or two O365 will be fit for business use?

        3. mlein

          Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

          Yea, this got me too... something about not being able to install a MAK version of visio along side click to run... I was not happy to say the least. Had to uninstall O365, install our MAK version of Office 2016 and then install the MAK version of Visio. Sigh

        4. kryptylomese

          Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

          @John 104 - I do not understand why anyone is down voting your post!

        5. Fatman Silver badge
          Linux

          Re: Windows admin, Windows shop

          <quote>Unfortunately, I am a windows sys admin and work in a windows shop. So its windoze all day during the work week.</quote>

          You have my deepest sympathies.

    2. gobaskof

      Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

      Thunderbird is great. But if you are forced to use Microsoft's awful exchange nonsense to connect to the email server, you need to install davmail to translate (unless you want to pay for the custom exchange addon someone made). I use thunderbird and davmail at work, it works, but it is definitely not a simple solution would recommend to someone who isn't tech saavy.

      This is why we have standard! It annoys me when a proprietary protocol becomes more common that a recognised standard. It is a step backwards and everyone else suffers.

      1. Psy-Q

        Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

        If you run DavMail in the shop and have a benevolent admin there, they can set up a multiuser DavMail, run it in server mode and make everyone in the company happy by translating the string-of-netherworldly-incantations MS protocols to some real standards. This isn't even a hack, the DavMail people have all the features in place for it and I can vow that it works at least up to Exchange 2007. Don't know how beefy the server needs to be for what size of company, though.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

      Was Thunderbird such a heavy trip to begin with?

      1. nil0

        Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

        Very, very frightening, me.

        (Galileo) Galileo.

        (Galileo) Galileo,

        Galileo Figaro

        Magnifico.

    4. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

      That's ok for your personal email (if you're OK to let Google know everything about you), but if the company you work for uses Exchange, and you're prohibited to forward anything to personal accounts for security and legal reasons, you have to use something which works with Exchange.

      But since mail clients get out of favour of most consumer users, there hasn't been much interest in developing an Outlook substitute. Now Mozilla is also getting rid of Thunderbird, and doesn.t bode well for it. In Linux, the state of mail clients is not better. Only smartphone apps went much further to ensure Exchange support.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

        "Now Mozilla is also getting rid of Thunderbird, and doesn.t bode well for it."

        If LibreOffice picks it up it bodes extremely well for it.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

          Are LibreOffice going to license the Exchange sync protocols? Being LibreOffice, IMHO they won't even under torture (when you mix software development with ideology and politics, users lose). Thereby I see very little hope for TB becoming a decent Outlook replacement.

        2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Thunderbird with Lightening

          Pfffffffft.

          Not gonna happen. Or if it does, they'll probably contort it into a Google-esque nightmare.

          Good things don't happen to normal people. Ever.

  5. Gray
    Childcatcher

    Enjoying the pain?

    Something about this entire article reads to me a bit like, "We've had this marvelous housekeeper for years and years, with only the occasional episode where she: 1) attacks a child; 2) sets fire to the house; 3) randomly smashes things; 4) leaves doors unlocked for her boyfriend, the burglar.

    Sounds increasingly like the 'masochist's lament,' dude!

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Enjoying the pain?

      Unfortunately, all the other housekeepers either shoot your pets or straight up light you, personally, on fire.

      Fuck of a choice.

  6. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

    In the para about MC Escher, I think "whole" should be "hole".

  7. Alistair Silver badge

    MSOS in kvm. Visio. O365 disaster contained.

    VPN? from linux - I've met 0 that I could not connect to with a bit of reading. It took some wonkies to get the SSL cert for a certain large previous employer to pass muster in linux, but once done the vpn worked better from linux than it did from winders

    1. Chemist

      "but once done the vpn worked better from linux than it did from winders"

      Ditto.

  8. Alan Sharkey

    Email alternative

    For an Outlook replacement, have a look at EM Client (www.emclient.com). It's what I recommend to my friends and yes, it works with O365

    Alan

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Email alternative

      Interesting. Does it do more than just mail when connected to an exchange server? I need that whole "calendaring and contacts to persist across devices" thing. And is it a locally installable client that caches all the data when the device is offline?

      1. jglathe

        Re: Email alternative

        At least they say they do: http://www.emclient.com/server?lang=en "eM Client can be set up with the Microsoft Exchange server to replace outlook, syncing your emails, contacts, calendars and tasks. This allows you to fully utilize all the functionalities that your current MS Exchange account has to offer while not being limited to using just Outlook. eM Client supports Microsoft Exchange 2007 and newer."

        Maybe worth a try.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Email alternative

          I'll give it a boo. As long as it has an offline mode, it's worth a jingle!

          1. Dave Lawton

            Re: Email alternative

            Might be worth looking at Claws Mail with the vCalendar plugin.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Email alternative

      Alan. Thanks. That looks very damn interesting. Excellent pricing (free for home use) and quite good looking interface.

      I think I'll give it a spin.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Email alternative

        WHOA!! It took me all of 15 minutes to download and set up. Email are still importing, but then it's importing several years of email from Gmail.

        Interface is quite like.. OH SHIT! For the first time in years my notification works! Just got a very nice soothing musical note and unobtrusive pop-up like Outlook of a calendar appointment!

        Anyway, the interface is a lot like Outlook. A lot. Everything is importing from Gmail very quickly. Full Calendar in minutes.

        This is AMAZING!

        1. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: Email alternative

          ...and done!

          1. ecofeco Silver badge

            Re: Email alternative

            Maybe I'm easily impressed, but it came with something that's been missing for years: built in holidays.

            A little thing, I know, but it's those kinds of things that make my life easier.

        2. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: Email alternative

          Thumbs down? Stop astroturfing us, MS.

          BTW, so far I'm loving eM Client. This is what Outlook SHOULD be.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Email alternative

            "This is what Outlook SHOULD be."

            Shush. You know the next two things that happen:

            1. They buy it.

            2. The break it.

  9. NiteDragon

    This entire article pretty much sums up my experience... Although, we also use the latest version of Visio (the one that makes entity relationship diagrams have so much white space only 4 or 5 tables fit on a page).

    It feels like the people redesigning these applications have no idea who the actual paying audience is.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      The 'whitespace' edict

      must have come down from on high because it is everywhere in MS products these days.

      I'd like to meet the people responsible for this. Then I'd [redacted] and [redacted] and finally put their heads on a [redacted].

      Actually, I'd make them spend a year working on a laptop that has only 1366x768 resolution. No mega attached screens.

      Then they might start to feel the pain that we suffer.

      Sadly, it is not only MS that seem infatuated with vertical whitespace. More and more web forms need lots and lots of scrolling to complete when older versions were far more real estate efficient.

      Nope, I'm back in the 'Nuke the lot of them and hand their heads on the railings outside Parliament' crowd.

  10. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Windows

    Maybe

    microsoft are mutating into the Sirus cybernetics corp

    Where you get so happy at overcoming the superficial design flaws that you dont notice the fundemental ones....

    DNA as always....

    1. Wensleydale Cheese

      Re: Maybe

      "microsoft are mutating into the Sirus cybernetics corp"

      I think I first realised that about 15 years ago.

    2. el_oscuro

      Re: Maybe

      I thought Microsoft bought out Sirius Cybernectics corporation about 20 years ago. I think their first release was https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Bob

  11. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

    default settings

    "I have no idea what Microsoft's target audience with their default settings is, but I don't think "people" is part of it."

    There is an old joke about that: to make MS product usable you should start by reversing all defaults you can find.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: default settings

      That's not a joke, that's the ugly truth.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: default settings

        It is indeed the ugly truth.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Windows

    thanks!

    "Perhaps someone sent me a file that wouldn't open in 2010. Perhaps it was yet another attempt to make Lync work. I will probably never remember. Regardless, the shift to Office 365's version of Office 2013 – and eventually 2016 – has been a descent into madness."

    Thanks for your comments.

    Still being a vivid Office 2010 user myself (IMO it also looks better) this gives me new motivation to never want to upgrade. Even though I honestly value MS Office a great deal. Once you dive into the VBA backend and discover the amount of stuff you can do... but yeah.

    I'd rather pay an xx amount of money once and be in full control over how long I want to use it instead of having to continuously pay for the latest and "greatest". Especially because I know the 'latest' from Microsoft is by far the 'greatest' these days. So no way I'm paying money to get treated like a beta tester, I actually got work to do!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Office likes to integrate with Window

    What is it you do when you're not constantly engaged in a tussle with Microsoft Office 365 over what to do with your computer?

    "LibreOffice isn't quite as fast as Word, but it's getting there. What is yet to be determined is not only whether or not I can .. have it preserve my settings through upgrades."

    Settings are stored in /home/user/.config/libreoffice and can be saved and restored on upgrade. That's assuming the upgrade removes your customizations, which is very unlikely.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Office likes to integrate with Window

      Seems to nuke my configs every second or third update on Windows 7...

  14. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    What's Wrong with Slurp?

    Slurp seems to have forgotten the reason people have computers to do something other than fighting with constantly changing GUIs, default settings, and document version incompatibilities.

    Also, I got the impression that Office 2010 (or possibly earlier) had all the features needed by Trevor. Office and many other applications are mature, feature rich already and it is highly unlikely that a new "must have" feature will be added. This the problem for Slurp and other software vendors is how to get your money into their pockets when you have no real need to move to the latest version.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: What's Wrong with Slurp?

      Office 2003 had everything I needed or wanted, except the ability to talk to the latest versions of the documents. 2010 had that fucking ribbon bar and ----++++CARRIER LOST

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: What's Wrong with Slurp?

        "Office 2003 had everything I needed or wanted, except the ability to talk to the latest versions of the documents."

        And then people keep saying LibreOffice can't open MS Office documents....

        1. keithpeter
          Windows

          Re: What's Wrong with Slurp?

          Excel sheet size: the 256 column /63K row limitation went away in Excel 2007 with the addition of a row insert bug in 2010.

          http://superuser.com/questions/366468/what-is-the-maximum-allowed-rows-in-a-microsoft-excel-xls-or-xlsx

          http://stackoverflow.com/questions/19544106/excel-2010-2013-insert-rows-is-very-slow

          Depends what you use Office for of course.

        2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

          @Doctor Syntax Re: What's Wrong with Slurp?

          And then people keep saying LibreOffice can't open MS Office documents....

          Oh LibreOffice can open MS Office documents.

          Whether it can keep the formatting is another matter.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: @Doctor Syntax What's Wrong with Slurp?

            In my experience MS Office can't open an Office document and keep the formatting.

            Sometimes it even fails to do so within the same version.

            At least LibreOffice still works when I have no Internet for a few days - as I currently suffer due to the incompetence of Virgin.

      2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Re: What's Wrong with Slurp?

        I think a stable suite with a feature set about Office 2003 or 2007 is what most people need. The only other issue is that should open a wide variety of file types. There are several suites that do this; both FOSS and commercial. The problem is software does not really wear out like car which is why software vendors are slobbering like a bunch of mangey mutts over cloudy subscriptions. However, subscriptions tend to be a pain for customer so many will deliberately limit the number of subscriptions to those they believe are critical and find another solution for the others.

      3. gerdesj Silver badge
        Linux

        Re: What's Wrong with Slurp?

        Trevor - I feel your pain and despite being a long term user of Linux (Gentoo for me, Arch for the missus, Ubuntu and Debian for work) its not been all plain sailing.

        That said: email + calendaring etc - Evolution it works rather well against our stalled corporate Exch 2010 to 2016 migration. My Evo client, due to using EWS instead of MAPI/OA and the other bollocks, along with Mac clients using EWS is rather happier on a mailbox move than Outlook. Visio is a bit of a bugger - Dia and Co don't cut it but Libre office does seem to import it somehow into a viewable form. Word to Writer and Excel to Calc are pretty good.

        I phoned a member of staff to do something for me 20 mins before I got to the office. When I arrived he was still waiting for his Win 10 thingie to do something unintelligible and unlikely. I walked up to my desk, logged in and cracked on.

        Did I mention that I don't bother hunting for drivers or third party updates? They are all built in and many of them support things that Windows gave up on years ago. It's not perfect but I generally find I do work, useful work better than I ever did with MS's offerings. It does not take me 30+ mins to log in. /etc/skel copies really quickly.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: What's Wrong with Slurp?

          I use Evolution on my Devuan box. It's okay for light use, but no replacement for Outlook. Outlook 2011 on Mac was pretty good, but I haven't had a usable Mac in a couple of years.

          Most of my boxes are still Windows 7. They're likely to be so long as I need things to do heavy lifting. Or until one of the open source clients gets stable enough, usable enough and without any obviously Suessian GUI elements enough to replace Outlook. Evolution is the closest in terms of UI, but as for the rest...

          ...well, let's just say I wish more resources were being put into it.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: What's Wrong with Slurp?

          "Visio is a bit of a bugger - Dia and Co don't cut it "

          Enterprise Architect ( http://www.sparxsystems.com ) isn't free in either sense but fairly reasonably priced IIRC and runs on Wine (don't we all?). It's a long time since I had an update (maintenance subscription but you can live without it, IME it's more for features than bug fixes) so they'll have poured even more into it by now.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What's Wrong with Slurp?

        Office 2007 started the whole ribbon abortion, which is why I keep the installation folder and keys for Office 2003 tucked all over the place. At least it was relatively easy to turn off all the feature hiding (personalization) features off. Outlook is also my ball and chain as well. Not for coordinating with others, rather that I know all about it and don't have to spend time on a new beast.

    2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: What's Wrong with Slurp?

      Much as I'm happy to criticise MS, I'm unfortunately finding that all the vendors - including my former favourite, Debian - are in that same race to the bottom.

      It used to be that each new edition of Ubuntu was smoother, more stable and had more useful features than the last. No longer. Each upgrade to Linux, MS, or some Google application involves annoying and apparently pointless changes, the loss of some formerly-useful feature, and additional 'helpfulness' in the form of just doing the wrong thing automagically. In the meantime, the new shiny this is all supposed to support doesn't work, or needs endless further installations to complete.

      Is there a way to get off the train ?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thanks

    confirms my decision to stick with Office 2010

  16. Sam Adams the Dog

    Interesting quote on Google's mail client

    "Google's mail client can only be described as the result of colliding MC Escher with Dr Seuss while simultaneously tearing a whole into multiple alternate space-times, allowing for an unpredictable and constantly shifting non-Euclidean design philosophy."

    I've been using Gmail since it first came out, and the company I worked for prior to retirement has been using Google Apps for at least the past 5 or so years. The calendaring interface is good. I've used Windows in the past including Outlook, but just as a client; my only real knowledge of the server is the complaints such as yours, which I've been hearing forever. It's been many years since I've even used the client. I also use Office on a Mac (and have used it on Windows).

    What don't you like about the Google mail client? I rather like it, and in the past I've used Thunderbird as well as Outlook, and of course in the very distant past (going back to 1983) whatever email client was available on the BSD Unixes of the day. (Who remembers zmail?) And of course, Apple's Mail on the Mac. And Pine for a while on Linux, before I switched to Thunderbird.

    Even those in my company who don't like the Google mail client have found it non-problematic to use the client of their choice to pull from the Google mail server using IMAP or POP3. What they didn't like was the threaded nature of the Gmail "conversations." They much preferred to keep related emails in manually managed named folders of their own and view them individually. (That's what I did prior to gmail, but I had a hard time recalling which of my folders I had kept for a particular purpose, when there were several equally logical choices.)

    I'd be curious to hear what you find so annoying about the Gmail client as to warrant your umm, vituperative, but inexplicit, outburst. Could you make it a bit more explicit? (The vituperative part is OK....)

    P.S. Separately, and FWIW, I use Office 2011 on a Mac, but have never tried O365. I find that Google Docs and Sheets more than satisfies my personal needs for docs and spreadsheets, but have always fount PowerPoint indispensable for presentations. Also, I've found Word indispensable for some forms of collaborative document revision, especially for Legal documents (where I think Word is just better than Docs) or with others tied to Word (where, for informal collaboration, Google Docs actually has a collaboration model that I prefer).

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Interesting quote on Google's mail client

      I wouldn't even know where to begin. Everything. I hate literally everything about it. That, and they keep changing the UI.

      If you want the cold, hard truth of the matter all the complaints will boil down to "it's not Outlook 2003". Because what I want is Outlook 2003. I don't want "smarts", or "evolution", or "differences". I want it to look and feel, and behave, and respond to my muscle memory exactly like Outlook 2003.

      And Gmail is about as far from Outlook 2003 as one can possibly get.

      1. Sam Adams the Dog

        Re: Interesting quote on Google's mail client

        Heh. A user of Office and Windows should be the last to complain that someone else "keeps changing the UI"....

        You've got to be ribbon me. ;-)

        But I agree that the old ways are best. Long live BSD mail (or rather, Mail).

        Cheers,

        -P.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Interesting quote on Google's mail client

          Or the loudest, because nobody will stop MS from **ing messing about with the interface.

  17. J. Cook Silver badge
    Mushroom

    If the brain trust here has any ideas for replacing Exchange, I'd be gaming for playing around with it. (and NOT lotus notes, it can go DIAF) I can't think of anything current that does what exchange does as well as it does, despite all the grinches and quirks and things that make your hair turn gray and want to take a fire axe to the idiot who thought that you'd *never* need to mail enable an AD group so we'll just leave that feature out of the web page for E2013 (along with the profanity-filled rant that boils down to 'WHY THE BUGGERING HELL DID YOU REMOVE THE MESSAGE TRACKING FEATURE YOU SODDING MORONS')...

    Excuse me, I need to wipe the foam off my mouth now.

    1. gerdesj Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      "If the brain trust here has any ideas for replacing Exchange"

      But it is awful, isn't it? Bits of it are scattered all over the FS, the config is scattered through bits of GUI and Powershell. Don't get me wrong it is quite capable and quite reliable after tweaking and does do what people want in the end.

      I'll still always put a box with Exim on the front though. The GUI is shit but getting better and the PS recipes are bollocks as well.

      The reason you stay with Exchange is Calendaring. That's all.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Wrong. I stay with Exchange because of:

        1) Calendaring

        2) Centralized contacts (individual AND group)

        3) Mail enabled public folders

        4) Distribution groups

        5) The physical layout of the UI (when using third party tools to get rid of the ribbon)

        Of these are required at a server and a client level for me to ditch Outlook + Exchange.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          It is almost as if we are about to say....

          Come back Notes, all is forgiven.

          Lookout/365 is a PITA. Every sodding update nukes my settings for how I want emails presented.

          I'm really glad that I'm retiring in a couple of months. Then I'll be free of MS for good.

          One thing I won't miss is the daily fight with MS. Why can't they just let us get on with you know, work and not fight the sodding interfaces and OS all the time.

          Nanny MS does not know best yet that seems to be their total moduc operandii these days.

          Roll on 30th Sept.

          Cue

          "I'm free" by The Who playing a volume Max++++

        2. LDS Silver badge

          Unluckily, in Exchange are not only the single features that matters, but the integration among them all (and you're directory system).

          Setting up a meeting or a conference call being able to look for a suitable time for everyone, having invites sent out automatically and the all the accept/decline workflow (plus related docs, etc.) handled, is a useful way of working. Also, working that way in a web interface is often clumsy, a native application wins hands down. It is true these are business needs and if you're only a mail provider you're not interested, but within businesses a simple mail server and client is often not enough.

        3. Topleft_the_Unfortunate

          Almost, but not quite, entirely unlike Outlook

          > Wrong. I stay with Exchange because of:

          These requirements can be reproduced effectively and in a scalable fashion with, on the server, , <MTA_OF_CHOICE>, Dovecot and Own/Nextcloud, and if for an enterprise <LDAP_OF_CHOICE>. On the client, Thunderbird with Lightning and the Sogo connector recreates that functionality against the aforementioned services. The calendaring and contact requirements are met with own/nextcloud native capability, exposed by Lightning for calendaring and Sogo connector for contact syncing. Dovecot can meet the public folders requirement, for example (duckduckgo result) https://docs.switzernet.com/3/public/131212-shared-imap-dovecot/index.pdf Distribution groups can be met in a number of ways, such as mailman, or my current easy favourite, which is not corporate-friendly, petitdomo.

          The trouble seems to be purely cultural; individuals may be wedded to a particular client, while organisations may be wedded to an invested position. So of Trevor's 5 points, the four technical issues can be solved really quite elegantly in a non-MS manner.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: Almost, but not quite, entirely unlike Outlook

            What in your proposed solution actually centralizes the calendaring? And does all of this work on iPhones? Android? Mac? Windows? How much setup does it require per user? How fragile is it, both from a client side and from a server side?

            This isn't just "a cultural issue". This is "a usability issue".

            The issue around this is that what people want is the ability to walk into a car dealership, sign some papers, then turn a key and drive away with a car. They don't want to go to a parts shop, a machine shop, a metal shop and then to a hackerspace to assemble it all and ultimately end up with a car that can only drive 4 out of 7 days a week and can't make left turns.

            What the open source crowd don't seem to understand is usability. With Outlook, my users can enter their e-mail address and password and that is all they need to enter. That's all that I, as an end user, need to enter. Everything else is handled through DNS and the client/server relationship.

            One username and password gets calendaring, mail, contacts, distribution lists, public folders and more. Do you understand this? One user name and password. One application. One thing to troubleshoot. One application to learn. One application to teach.

            No setting up multiple IMAP accounts. No downloading 5 different add-ons, only one of which is commercially supported, and two of which are no longer maintained at all.

            At least the LibreOffice people have grokked that bundling and usability are important. They have figured out that any collection of interconnecting applications that important has to be maintained as a unit, so that no one piece falling behind (or being abandoned) threatens the whole.

            But the mail nerds never get this. They seem perfectly happy with maintaining a spider's web or barely-compatible version-unbound components working in loose formation, and then going back every few years and reinventing the wheel.

            I don't know about you, but I'm tired of reinventing the wheel. I just want the goddamned thing to work. I want it to work today. I want it to work tomorrow. And I want it to work 10 years from now.

            E-mail is e-mail. Let's please just STOP FUCKING WITH IT. Let's stop having to reinvent, reconfigure, tweak, change, adapt, learn, relearn, teach, modify and change. Let's just get it right and then leave it the hell alone.

            Computers are here to make our lives easier. Not endlessly faff around with in some insane attempt to be "more efficient" through constant - but ultimately useless and unproductive - change.

            Show me an exact stack of applications - server and client - that replace Exchange and Outlook without having to retrain everyone, or redo every few years, or have a half dozen sign ins per user per device, and I'll be thrilled. I hate Microsoft in the gor'ram face. But a fist full of monkeys that all have to be carefully thrown in the right barrels is quite definitively also not the way.

    2. Fluffy Cactus

      Never used Exchange, but I think that angry venting is good for your soul.

  18. 404 Silver badge

    "Google's mail client can only be described as the result of colliding MC Escher with Dr Seuss while simultaneously tearing a whole into multiple alternate space-times, allowing for an unpredictable and constantly shifting non-Euclidean design philosophy."

    I think the word you're looking for is 'beta'...

    Has Google ever finished anything?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Google Enterprise offering is very good, and the cloud aspect of all your documents (when used with 2FA) gives your business a very credible security advantage over local office installs and clueless users emailing uncontrolled documents around the place and externally to mistyped recipients.

      Read and digest before writing this off. It has a very good argument for why cloud docs are more secure.

      http://philstephens.com.au/security-for-google-drive-businesses/

      I had living proof of how people can get things wrong. I got emailed by mistake a certain dragons den "star" divorce settlement details documents (40 pages worth) as word doc attachments. Now had that been in the cloud, the sender could have just revoked my access on discovery of his typo....

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Thank you google robot. Go back to R'lyeh and leave me in peace. Mortal minds were not meant to witness Google "design".

  19. ilmari

    Speed

    The speed, or rather lack of speed with Office 2016 is what made me upgrade my office computer from a C2D to Skylake. I know the C2D is old by now, but seriously, you'd think any 2.83GHz superscalar CPU would be able to run a word processor without it lagging several keys behind your typing.. Libreoffice atleast kept up with typing speed, but compatibility was an issue...

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Speed

      "Libreoffice atleast kept up with typing speed, but compatibility was an issue"

      According to TFA MS Office is also a compatibility issue with itself. So what's the difference? If you're about to say "macros" then according to TFA they're also an issue - a security issue this time.

    2. CGarison

      Re: Speed

      This issue began in Office 2013 and has become progressively worse in Office 2016. I am running an Intel 4790K with 32GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD and office is constantly lagging and never has the ability to use the full resources of the PC. RAM usage (regardless of size of document/spreadsheet) always maxes out at 2GB and use of multiple threads on my PC never grabs more than 25% of the available power. Even changing the windows settings does not substantially increase the performance of the application until you give 100% of the resources to Word, Excel, or Access and then you give up control pf all of the other functions of the PC. Microsoft has laid another big turd with Office 2016 and they have never talked to power users to make Office great again. Instead, power users are getting gimped versions of the program that are more suited to run on new, low powered tablet hardware and not the big huge PCs that we have to perform a tremendous amount of work. It is for this reason that I am looking at dropping Microsoft as my primary OS and move to Linux and Mac to run MS Office in a VM due to the fact that throwing more CPU and RAM at MS Office has done noting to improve the performance of the application.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Speed

        Are you sure that's Office, and not "svchost"? It sounds a lot like the whole "windows Update will now eat one core of your CPU until the goddamned end times" problem.

  20. MatsSvensson

    Ribbon = automatic fail.

    ADD-kids shouldn't design UIs

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      You said it all. MS interface design is some kind of Kafka nightmare.

    2. nil0

      After holding out for as long as I possibly could, I've just been updated from Office 2003 to 365. I've lived a ribbon-free life up until now.

      My reaction upon opening Office 365 was, my god, who's sneezed icons all over the top of my screen?

      Shortcut habits are also hard to change - nice to see that 365 still acts on the old shortcuts, but the message "Office access key: Alt, T, Continue typing the menu key sequence from an earlier version of Office..." seems to laugh at me - "I know what the old menu sequences are, but I'm not going to give you any clues"

  21. Wensleydale Cheese
    Thumb Up

    all those dumb "smart quotes."

    Trevor wrote:

    I was perfectly happy using Office 2010 that had been beaten about the ears enough to look and feel identical to Office 2003. It was quick, the context menus gave me access to all the commands I wanted, and I managed to get rid of both the spacing after the paragraphs and all those dumb "smart quotes."

    It's not just the "smart quotes" but the ellipses, em-dashes et al.

    I'm not a frigging novelist, I write code.

    I really really really don't want that smart quote nonsense creeping into code snippets when I'm writing a technical document.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: all those dumb "smart quotes."

      "I'm not a frigging novelist, I write code."

      Use an editor then, not a WP?

      1. Wensleydale Cheese

        Re: all those dumb "smart quotes."

        "Use an editor then, not a WP?"

        Ahem. I mentioned code snippets in technical documents.

        Yes, copy and paste will work, but I've just upgraded LibreOffice to V5 and it seems to have lost the auto-correct settings I had in V4. I'm probably hitting the same problem that Trevor mentioned.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Re: all those dumb "smart quotes."

          And you aren't using a proper template with the proper styles set?

          Anyway, there are better choices than Word for technical documentation, but they can be quite expensive.

          Anyway sometimes I'm surprise how decades of limited word processor capabilities led to regarding proper typography as a 'mistake', oh well, I had a colleague who insisted to avoid the use of accented characters and the like, he believed using just ASCII7 characters made him a true hardcore hackers, when it just made him looking a clueless user creating unreadable outdated documents.

          1. Wensleydale Cheese
            Happy

            Re: all those dumb "smart quotes."

            "Anyway sometimes I'm surprise how decades of limited word processor capabilities led to regarding proper typography as a 'mistake', "

            One could blame the typewriter for giving us a century or so of restricted capability before that.

            Separate characters for opening and closing quotes might have percolated through to computers - "Hello World" could have been “Hello World” all along :-)

            1. LDS Silver badge

              Re: all those dumb "smart quotes."

              True, but "Com­put­ers have none of the me­chan­i­cal lim­i­ta­tions of type­writ­ers. So the ty­po­graphic short­cuts that were a nec­es­sary evil with type­writ­ers are like­wise ob­so­lete. Why per­pet­u­ate them?" (from http://practicaltypography.com).

              Moreover many typewritten documents were printed only after having being properly typeset. Today the risk is they get to the final reader as they were created by someone with little knowledge about typography. And even in the days of handwritten and typewritten documents, there were people trained to obtain the most from their tools to create truly good looking documents.

              Maybe word processors should better ask if you wish to employ all the typographical tricks, or you want just a simpler document. But I would not remove them even from a tool like Word (which was never designed as a simple typewriter replacement), there are true readability reason to properly show a complex, long document.

        2. Peter in Seattle

          Re: all those dumb "smart quotes."

          That seems a little odd. I seem to recall that by default, LibreOffice 5 uses LibreOffice 4's pre-existing user profile (and thus, all of its settings). If you did a "parallel" (~portable) install of LibreOffice 5, and you wanted 5 to use your 4 profile, you'd have to edit 5's bootstrap.ini file with this as the last line in the [BOOTSTRAP] section:

          UserInstallation=$SYSUSERCONFIG/LibreOffice/4

          I have the latest stable version of LibreOffice 4 as my installed version (because of its compatibility with the AltSearch extension); the last stable version of 3 as a parallel install (because of its compatibility with a couple of extensions I need less often); and several stable versions of 5 as parallel installs (for 64-bit, for the latest bells and whistles, and for regression testing). LibreOffice 3 has its own user profile, but as I mentioned, 4 and 5 share the same user profile, and I haven't noticed that any of my settings have ever been lost switching back and forth between 4 and 5. (It's just that some extensions don't work in 5, and that I have to re-consent to one extension's license every time I go back to 4.) But I usually work with smart quotes turned on, so your complaint could just be a bug I didn't get an opportunity to notice.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: all those dumb "smart quotes."

            I install with Ninite. I update with Ninite. I have done this for ages. No parallel or portable installs. So far as I know Ninite just runs a regular (albeit silent) install each time. I don't use extensions. Or much of anything. I just try to defang LibreOffice so that all the formatting stupidity is removed and it provides me essentially "Notepad with spell and grammar check". That's it. That's all the customization I do/request/require from my word processors.

            I write in HTML. Really, all I want is Notepad with spell check. Why, oh why, can't we just have that?

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: all those dumb "smart quotes."

      "I really really really don't want that smart quote nonsense creeping into code snippets when I'm writing a technical document."

      Styles > Preformatted text

    3. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: all those dumb "smart quotes."

      I write my novels in code. HTML makes for goodly ways to mark up content.

      ...almost like it was designed for it.

      1. Orv Silver badge

        Re: all those dumb "smart quotes."

        "I write my novels in code. HTML makes for goodly ways to mark up content."

        Huh. That's a funny way to spell "LaTeX."

        1. The Blacksmith
          Happy

          Re: all those dumb "smart quotes."

          I think you mean troff, although I sometimes prefer postscript for that high precision formatting.

        2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: LaTeX

          Sorry, I don't keep my pee in jars. I also get out every now and again, and periodically touch the breasts of an actual living female. LaTeX. Sheesh. That's so far down the rabbit hole Dwarf Fortress players avoid it. *shudder*

    4. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

      Re: all those dumb "smart quotes."

      @W Cheez

      You can avoid the smart quotes by drafting the document in One Note, and then exporting to Word.

      But then you hit another problem: headers are implemented as low level font and size settings as opposed to themes and styles.

  22. jmc787

    I offer a meagre crumb of hope into this ocean of despair - a free upgrade of your Visio 2013 to 2016 is available https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Special-offer-for-customers-with-Office-2016-and-Office-2013-standalone-applications-c32e3cad-e935-4163-a44f-50d896e10bbc

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooOOOOoooooooooo...

      1. Fluffy Cactus

        Not sure what you did there.

  23. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Happy

    "Microsoft Office 356 Business"

    I see what you did there.

  24. SineWave242

    Thank you so much for this article! It's very funny! Microsoft is still doing great, that's nice to hear. Cheers! - Linux user.

  25. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Childcatcher

    Enlightening

    You'd have to go back the 50s and read actual accounts of life under Communist rule to get an idea how far the reality was from the propaganda.

  26. ecofeco Silver badge

    Yo we heard you like broken!

    We heard you like broken so we put some more broken things on your broken thing! 'Cause we LOVE to pimp your ride!

    - love, Microsoft

    (some good suggestions by other commentards here. Many I've not heard of and will give a look. Thanks to you all)

    365 is one giant step backwards. I never thought I'd live to see the day. Shit for an interface, deleted features, can mostly only be used on-line. WTFF Microsoft?

    To be fair, as another poster said, I am also seeing a lot of software move backwards. What the hell is going on?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Yo we heard you like broken!

      "To be fair, as another poster said, I am also seeing a lot of software move backwards. What the hell is going on?"

      Having got something more or less right doesn't stop the itch to tweak it.

    2. Bruce Ordway

      Re: Yo we heard you like broken!

      >>What the hell is going on?

      I like to blame smartphones and fashion.

      Seems like a lot of the software I use for business has regressed since mobile took over.

    3. Fluffy Cactus

      Re: Yo we heard you like broken!

      I think what's going on is that "Carefully trying to find out what the customer, or "the various target markets", would like has gone "completely out the window".

      Good, smart, careful, ingenious people are fired, and ignorant, careless, carefree pretenders and buffoons that are good with "the lingo", "the latest smartipants talk" are being hired.

      Think about it: Is or was your boss a complete idiot who fired you because you disagreed, or were joking,

      or were sarcastic? Well, if yes, then guess what kind of person that boss will hire to replace you, assuming you will be replaced at all?

      That should explain a lot of what the heck is going on.

  27. EveryTime Silver badge

    "Obvious in retrospect"

    Yes, that error that cause the crash was completely obvious in retrospect. I should have known to step to the right, jump to the left, press ctl-alt-F20, and cut the green wire.. only after cutting the blue wire.

  28. J J Carter Silver badge
    Linux

    Enjoy today's 2-minute hate on MSFT

    Looking forward to quality ranting on Windows 10 Anniversary Edition!

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Enjoy today's 2-minute hate on MSFT

      You'll be looking elsewhere. I'd rather be peeled than use that bucket of Bantha poodoo, and I think the others around here actually like Windows 10. They certainly don't seem to understand why I don't want Cortana, telemetry, all my searches being sent to Bing, etc...

      That's a great big bucket of nope there, Rubber Ducky...

  29. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    "Lots of people want network diagrams..."

    True statement, but incomplete without a denigrating adjective to prefix the 'people'.

    "Lots of STUPID people want network diagrams..."

    Anything that fits into a presentable Visio diagram is trivial, and anyone that requires such a diagram to comprehend such trivial systems are morons and should be tossed off the project.

    By the time systems are sufficiently complicated that a Visio diagram could theoretically add value, the vast spatial dimensions of the format make it useless. A diagram the size of Wales is useless.

    Visio, by the inherent sprawling nature of its format, is a tool useful for presenting the trivial to the thick.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "Lots of people want network diagrams..."

      "A diagram the size of Wales is useless."

      Quick, add Wales as the unit of diagram size to elReg's standards.

    2. el_oscuro

      Re: "Lots of people want network diagrams..."

      I used to use Visio for designing kitchen cabinets and floor plans, something it was extremely useful for. Then it was bought out by Microsoft and everything has went down hill since.

  30. N2 Silver badge

    If

    This abonimation bore the name of anyone else but Microsoft, we'd dump it with out a thought.

    You can't expect everything to be fixed in the next release, because it never will.

  31. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Meh

    Solidarity

    Not between Office releases, though that would be nice, but for your article and to all of us that have to support this mess. I think the only reason that Douglas Adams stated that "Belgium" is the most offensive word in the universe is because "SharePoint" hadn't been invented yet.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    2003 still rules! (for some)

    Trev, we are still out here, the People Who Live On Office 2003 - we may not have every teamwork/Outlook solution that you require, but we do have the add-on "XLSX" readers/writers for (most) more modern Excel/Word/PowerPoint files (and LibreOffice in emergency).

    Not a ribbon in sight! And we joke that Microsoft just get worse with every passing year, all the while fearing that we must surely be missing something important, and then, well, Office 365...

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: 2003 still rules! (for some)

      You do know the add-on doesn't properly read or write the stuff that 2016 outputs, eh? A lot (a lot!) of errors. Especially with Powerpoint.

  33. NanoMeter

    I remember Lotus 1-2-3 and Word Perfect in the DOS days

    Those were the days!

    1. Fluffy Cactus

      Re: I remember Lotus 1-2-3 and Word Perfect in the DOS days

      Yeah, really, the DOS days. In Lotus 123, and Wordperfect you could figure out how the macros worked,

      simply by trial and error. Because their macro languages were devised with the customer in mind. When you told the cursor to go from here to there, it would do it.

      Then came Word and Excel, and those days were over. The cursor cursed you, because neither relative or absolute addresses made any difference. No amount of trial and error could overcome the macro languages in Word and Excel, as there was neither reason, logic or instructions. As much as possible it was devised so un-intuitive to make it impossible to work with. Those are my true memories, and they are true because they are based on feelings, and you can't argue with feelings.

      Just imagine, in DOS 3 or 4 or 5 or 6.22 one could install or upgrade an operating system without having

      to re-install every other application. You could install any application, and the idea that Microsoft needed

      to know what that application was, and why, and wherefore thou werest running it, was completely unthinkable. Then came Windows 1, then 2 then 3.1 and tadaa, the windows registry made sure that

      there were so many more ways for any program to malfunction. What was before a library of different and separate software applications, became now a Rube Goldberg machine of interdependent yet inscrutable logic. Before, if a program malfunctioned, you could re-install and be done in 20 minutes. THEN, if the windows registry became corrupted, everything had to be redone, from scratch. What great progress! It meant fully employment for even the least informed computer person, but absurdly horrendous expenses for businesses large and small. Yes, back then, if you merely had the patience of waiting for a computer to go thru install after install, that was enough to be considered one of the few, the proud, the very patient IT people. 1+1 = 10 was magic.

      Sorry, I get carried away with nostalgia. It's easy to see why some people think that the past was better

      than it was. Because it's already gone, and there is no chance it'll come back again, at least not on this

      planet, not this galaxy.

  34. Sirius Lee

    Stop whining...

    ...about doing your day job. Give it a rest - or go use a Linux client and see how your users get along with that.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Stop whining...

      Whining is my day job. Better question: why are you being an insufferable cocktoboggan? Don't you have something productive to do?

  35. CGarison

    Visio and Project are the only thing keeping me tied to Windows

    Microsoft Office has been on a steady decline since it peaked with the 2003 version released 16 years ago. MS came close with office 2010, but key functions in that product (like spreadsheet sort functions) had issues and did more to damage my documents and data instead of producing spectacular results. The big decline in MS Office quality came with the 2013 release and then the 2016 release put a nail in this products coffin. Setting that don't stay, and obsolete mail client that does not have a unified inbox and functionality that changes from platform to platform are all reasons why I question my investment in this application as my licensing expense for our data analysis based research small business is far exceeding the applications usefulness to handle many documents or spreadsheets at once or handle extremely large sets of data. Yes, OneDrive is nice in that it lets me open documents on my Mac, PC, Android, and iOS devices, but the process of getting documents stored to the cloud is tedious and the versioning on the software has occasionally run into bugs since the 2016 software release. Personally, I feel like the quality of Office 2016 is about on par with the initial release of Windows 10 Insider Preview in September 2014 and the worst part is that Microsoft has done nothing to fix the issues with this product over the last year since it's full product release. Combine that with issues where I have had to reinstall my OS due to licensing cock-ups on Microsoft's end and I have grown tired of dealing with these products for simply Visio and Project. Something has to be better for people who need to do lots of work. And the troubles of the teams that I support that develop plug-ins for MS-Office, HA! It has been a year and we have barely cracked the changes to get the applications plugins to work with office versions newer than Office 2013. I am not sure what they are smoking in Redmond these days, but Microsofts products have done nothing but go off a cliff into near un-usability since Satya Nadella took the reins of this company.

    1. Fluffy Cactus

      Re: Visio and Project are the only thing keeping me tied to Windows

      My guess is that MS management is trerribly impatient, and employees there get unexpectedly yanked from one project to work on another, and the next person does not know, and has no way of knowing

      what the prior person intended to accomplish, and as a result everything becomes haphazard, half-finished, untested, half-assed job. I keep on guessing that there is no clear chain of command, as whole departments are eliminated or repurposed, there are changing alliances, the new supervisors don't know what the old supervisors did, and on and on. Business plans change daily, what ya didn't know?

      I think they laid off more than 10,000 employees in the last two years, or a bit over 10% of their work force. That is tough. I've been a couple times working in companies that purge employees, it's terrible for everyone in the company, everything is in flux, here today, gone tomorrow, who's in charge now?

      Creative distruction? I need no part of it. Inhumane smallminded stupidity? I can do without it.

  36. Artaxerxes

    Blue Sky Thinking

    But its in The Cloud and The Cloud is good.

    So my manager and CIO keep telling me.

  37. MacroRodent Silver badge

    Stupid quotes

    "LibreOffice isn't quite as fast as Word, but it's getting there. What is yet to be determined is not only whether or not I can defang all the "smart quote"-like stupidity and either have it preserve my settings through upgrades or make the settings changes something easy that can be injected at boot."

    Yes, unfortunately LibreOffice also comes with these "I know better than you do how you want to write" settings enabled by default, but they can be turned off ("Tools->Autocorrect Options" and "Tools->Spelling and Grammar...->Options..."), and so far it has been very good at retaining these settings over upgrades (however, have not yet tried the latest version).

  38. TechJohn

    Low Hanging Fruit - Visio

    Since you seem to be set on using outlook offline client, instead of online client or modify your workflow for gmail, I'll go for the low hanging fruit of Vision.

    I replaced Visio madness with LibreOffice Draw plus VRT Network Addon. Only niggle I found was that the diagram elements are under "shapes" and not the other diagram elements like you would expect.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Low Hanging Fruit - Visio

      "or modify your workflow for gmail"

      Seriously? Is this what we, as an industry, have become? There are those among us that pull this shit not in meetings where determining top-down policy to foist upon the milled masses, but in casual conversation with peers?

      This is walking up to someone and syaing "you're not trying hard enough to do it my way and that is why you fail" instead of starting with something important like, oh I don't know, why they should try at all!

      Computers are are a tool to make my life easier. I am not here to adapt to the computer.

      Also: compared to Visio, Draw is pretty butts. It's getting there, but it's still got rather a long way to go. Especially in having those diagrams read by Visio and vice the versa. It's usable and all, but only if you don't have to actually, you know, work with other people at any point.

  39. Wils

    Microsoft software has always been the worst for incompatibilities with the Windows O/S. Updates can take for ever, fail, even fail permanently requiring a complete clean O/S install.

    It seems nearly all Microsoft's products have gone to shit, requiring almost constant updates. Azure seems to be work-in-progress the user interface having a split personality (Dashboard v Portal). Lync / Skype mismatches / incompatibility with all the bullshit IM. Soon (no doubt) Linked-in will be slurped of data requiring a Mobile Phone number / authentication along with Credit Card and Office 365 / One-Note / One-Drive / Xbox / Universal App Store on and on.

    What a gloriously dystopian slurpfest people are letting themselves into. And that's before the real bad malware strikes the rotten spaghetti code.

    Slurp have lost the plot.

  40. RB_

    The pain of it all

    It's an interesting article, as over the years M$ have taken a lot of stick but they have always changed and evolved.. perhaps not at a rate we like to see or a competence we enjoy but nevertheless, change. For example, with the fullness of time and hindsight can anyone seriously dispute that something like Windows '95 took desktop computing (and indeed professional software development) to a different place? All I'm saying is be fair. However this modern stuff is nonsense.. can't even refresh a web browser properly without a ctrl-enter, what happened to F3 for next in a search menu context? GUI interaction has gone backwards, fine you want to change things, would it kill you to retain sh!t like F3 though ? REALLY! ? Even my vanilla-as-you-like hand-rolled budget spreadsheet runs like a dog and I all I have is a pivot table on another sheet.. pretty poor really. What annoys me the most though as a software professional you just know that it only takes a little bit more care, a small amount of care, and you've got a killer on your hands. I'm just more disappointed than surprised, half-a-dozen top rated devs and testers could knock it out of the park, it's just over resourced managed-by-morons shite that hits our desktops now.

    Argh!

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: The pain of it all

      Windows 95 was 21 years ago.

      Windows 2000 was 16 years ago.

      Windows XP SP2 was 12 years ago.

      Office 97 was 19 years ago.

      Office 2003 was 13 years ago.

      Windows 95 to windows 2000 was 5 years. The wait was worth it.

      2000 to XP SP2 was 4 years. The wait was worth it.

      Office 97 to 2003 was 6 years. The wait was worth it.

      Microsoft hasn't produced end user productivity tools or an operating system since which count as definitive improvements over Windows XP SP2 (12 years ago) and Office 2003 (13 years ago).

      I think I've been more than fair in giving them time.

      Look: newer versions of software have new security features. ASLR and so forth. That's expected. That's part of the evolution of software over more than two decades. Other things (such as hyper-v) that were rightly their own product got rolled in. Fine. That's a business decision.

      But what does Windows 10 offer me that actually makes my life better over Windows XP? And no, putting a gun to my head and saying "upgrade or the viruses will get you" isn't making my life better. What in Office 2016 makes my life any better, faster, easier or more productive than Office 2003?

      No, Microsoft have created applications and an operating system that makes their life better, makes it easier for them to profit, and offer us nothing except fear and coercion to keep us on the treadmill. They're the Donal Trump of software developers and I, for one, am rather sick of their shit.

      I just want the lights kept on so I can go about my day. I don't want to be confused, chastised or scared shitless all the time when I could be usefully contributing to society. Why - oh why - is that so very much to ask?

  41. Tony S

    " Under no circumstances should anything be accessing the internet these days without a list of defenses as long as my leg."

    Yes; for sure. But the trouble is, that's not what happens. Everyone is obsessed with capturing metadata that can be analysed and then (most importantly) used to make MONEY. Even some FOSS / OSS has been modified (in some cases without people knowing) specifically to make it easier to capture / monitor data.

    The worst are the apps that continue to run in the background after being closed, and capture data from other apps or web browsing. Normally, the developer company are adamant that "they" would never abuse what they find, but are the first ones to get upset if someone else does the same thing, and messes up what their lovely app does.

  42. Tikimon Silver badge
    FAIL

    Most good products being ruined by the need for something new to sell

    Business models increasingly seem to be built on re-selling to the same customer again and again. Selling a good product that will last for years has gone out the window. Think what you will of that, but it inevitably ruins the product. Because after experimentation and refining, any product will (or should) reach a point where it does the job just fine. However, the old adage of "If it ain't broke, don't 'fix' it" has been forgotten.

    Now perfectly good things (menus) are thrown out and replaced with other things less suited to the task (unlabeled icons), solely to create something "new" to sell. Business models are destroying the fruits of years of design and testing.

    If anyone has a Colony Ship B handy, I can nominate plenty of management and marketing people to fill its passenger list.

  43. Palpy

    Just a personal tale of woe --

    -- after my employer went to O-365.

    I try to open any Excel or Word file on a network drive: and BLAM. The Windows box locks tighter than a diesel Volkswagen trying to run on corn syrup. As Bob Dylan sang, "It's a hard reboot gonna fall." One workaround is to open the file using Libre.

    (Parenthetically: No, I don't think Libre is better than Office It stumbles on a few things which Office does competently. But I like its menu bar better than the ever-changing Ribbon.)

  44. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Childcatcher

    Oh Dear?

    In the scheme of things I question the stability of any product who's creator or manufacturer is located on a very geologically unstable location. I mean, well it speaks volumes about the level of 'planning' that goes into their future.

  45. Jan Hargreaves

    Optional

    Was using Libreoffice for the past 3 years, but something annoyed me so much with it that I went and signed up for Office 365. I was creating a document for a client containing screenshots, and whatever I did, Libreoffice pixelated them so badly that they were mostly unreadable. It was so frustrating that I went back to the dark side. Also, that by default the file format was .odt - clients who have older versions of Word can't open them. So then you, or your colleague has to resave it, or you have to change the default format - it's just annoying.

    Now I have the latest apps and some new ones like Sway that could help me make good looking reports and presentations. Excel is so, so much easier to use than Libreoffice's alternative - even simple things like dragging columns and sorting data. I don't use Outlook - have been on Thunderbird since 2005. Thankfully I've never had to go near Exchange in my life.

    Yes, I'm paying £6 month for the privilege but seems a no brainer of a cost for my business - will save me time and increase productivity. Microsoft do a lot of things that I don't like (my next pc will not be windows), but Office by and large they do very well.

  46. nilfs2
    Windows

    Outlook is shit

    No matter how many updates and versions it goes through, it still crashes and bugs users all the time

  47. rohnski

    There is a fix for visio problem

    I haven't read all of the comments, so I don't know if anyone else has posted this.

    MS has a "free upgrade" offer for users of Visio and Project 2013. It originally ended in June, but has been extended to the end of Sept.

    Special offer for customers with Office 2016 and Office 2013 standalone applications - Free Upgrade - Visio / Project – to Sept 30 2016

    https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Special-offer-for-customers-with-Office-2016-and-Office-2013-standalone-applications-c32e3cad-e935-4163-a44f-50d896e10bbc

    https://support.office.com/en-us/article/-We-need-to-remove-some-older-apps-error-a225347f-e102-4ea6-9796-5d1ac5220c3b

    It is unfortunate that MS has been so user hostile in the release of 2016. There is no technological reason why 2016 cannot run alongside earlier versions. Actually, the "click to run" (or not run) virtual computer environment is designed to isolate the installation from other programs on the computer. Office 2013 even advertised users could test 2013 OUTLOOK alongside earlier versions! The either or choice in the 2016 installer is just that, code in the installer, added in a ham handed attempt to "encourage" people to switch to 2016.

  48. WibbleMe

    Why not simply use Google Docs for work that won't cost a penny

  49. Fluffy Cactus

    Just being reminded of the "spacing after the paragraphs" MS Word weirdness makes me still want to catapult several banana cream pies via the prevailing jetstreams in the general direction of Seattle. If that is taken as a veiled death threat, I will say in my defense that there are no known deaths ever caused by

    banana cream pies thrown in anyone's face, and that my "only theoretically contemplated action" is to be

    understood as a mild criticism from a suffering MS customer.

    Or the thing with "the line that suddenly appeared in Word" and there was no way to get rid of it, because its magical appearance was not logged in the 100 levels of undo. And the MS Office Help system would have no clue about how to deal with this. No idea about the simple logic of: If you got an on switch, then there also must be an off switch.

    Why can't I let go off an old grudge? Because with MS there are so many things that were not working

    as promised, no fixed as promised, fixed but the fix ruined several other things, plus then there were those things that worked, but were taken away for no other reason than that, seemingly, only 8% of MS users used them, and so MS logically assumed that out of its 1 billion customers, offending only 80 million customers would be pretty much ok. And they repeated this thought process with so many other

    features, that over the years, they must have offended about 96.97% of their customers, which was statistically ok in their minds, but not if you were the customer.

    You can tell that I am not an IT person, but I appreciate the sarcasm and humor on this website.

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