Office 2011: Microsoft learning the worst practices of Adobe?

November 11, 2010  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

I’ve been using Microsoft Office 2011 since it came out, and boy is it different.  Up until now we had been primarily using Office 2004 (skipping Office 2008 because there was no compelling reason to upgrade).  We’ve had Microsoft Office 2010 for Windows for some time now, so the ribbon concept isn’t a new one.

But before I get into that, I wanted to comment on the major security update released this week for Microsoft Office 2011.  Why on earth did Microsoft decide to copy the most annoying installation feature from Adobe (which, surprisingly, Adobe seems to have rectified recently)?  Installing Microsoft Office 2011 and the update required me to shut down Safari.  I am sure there are some plugins being installed.  But couldn’t the installer ask me if even I want them?  Or just install them and let me reboot Safari later.  It’s been well-documented on this site that I use Safari as an important part of my workspace.  Forcing a Safari reboot is a major interruption to my workflow.

Apart from the update process, I have been quite pleased with the changes in Office 2011 (and more specifically, Word 2011).  For details of the changes, check out a few reviews by other sites.

When I first heard about the ribbon, I thought it would be a disaster.  But in practice, I have found it to be quite useful.  On a large display with many windows, going to the ribbon is much more convenient than finding the palette window.  I have actually wished a few times that iWork Pages would have something similar (the Pages palette always seems to get lost!).

There have been a few issues, though:

  • When updating, Word conveniently forgets to remember that I defaulted to DOC files in Office 2008 (reverting instead of DOCX files).  This seems unlikely to have been accidental.
  • Word stepped into the 21st century and added a Paste and Match Style feature (accessible with the keyboard).  There was much rejoicing in the Kabbe household…until I started using it.  The “Match Style” part of the operation does seem to match some of the font styling, but it’s far different from Paste Special — Unformatted Text.  Paragraph styles (including margins) are often kept with Paste and Match Style, rendering it fairly useless.  Why couldn’t Microsoft have just given us a keyboard shortcut to Paste Unformatted Text?

I don’t think the improvements in Word 2011 have made me want to switch and use Word as our primary word processor.  The layout is nicer, but the experience hasn’t changed too much.




  1. Have you tried word processing with Pages? I’ve been using Daylight/Pages merge and I’m happy with it for correspondence. For legal docs, Pages/Numbers merge is good.

  2. We do use Pages for quite a few things. And we’re currently setting up some of our tasks (certain kinds of letters and legal documents) for mail merge with Pages / Numbers. But there are certain things that we simply have to use Word for (WealthDocX from Wealth Counsel and any of our legal documents which might be sent outside the firm in draft form. I have to say, though: Word 2011 is a big step up from Word 2004, which is what we had been using. The only drawback is Word’s continuing stupidity when it comes to creating styled multi-level lists. That’s still something I struggle with because Word keeps trying to be “smart” and guess what I want to do, rather than just doing explicitly what I ask.

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