go ahead, mac my day

a Macintosh girl in a Microsoft world

  • go ahead, mac my day

    Office:Mac 2011 preview on CNet


    The folks over at CNet have a video giving you a quick preview of Office:Mac 2011.  Check it out!

  • go ahead, mac my day

    Q&A: What do you think about Office:Mac 2011 being 32-bit?


    Via email, I was asked:

    What are your thoughts about Office 2011 being 32 bit instead of 64 bit?

    As we announced last week during WWDC, we're drinking the Cocoa and moving our world in that direction.  Moving to Cocoa is a huge undertaking.  Outlook:Mac is Cocoa, and new features in the rest of the applications are also being built in Cocoa.  Since we're not going to be all-Cocoa in Office:Mac 2011, that means that we're going to be in a 32-bit world. 

    From a user experience perspective, the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit isn't terribly meaningful.  I can't imagine what one could do to a Word document that would benefit from running in 64-bit mode instead of 32-bit mode.  That said, there are cases where 64-bit is meaningful.  For example, if you had an extremely large Excel spreadsheet with millions of cells and lots of complex calculations, there can be a benefit to 64-bit.  You could also get there with a massive PowerPoint presentation that mostly consists of high-resolution images, but it would have to be on the order of thousands of those images.  Moving to 64-bit is part of our future plans, and it's why we're beginning the long transition from Carbon to Cocoa.  We've got around 30 million lines of code across the suite, so that transition is anything but trivial.

    From a performance perspective, while there are performance improvements that come with 64-bit, there's still improvements to be wrung out of our 32-bit suite.  With each update to Office 2008, I've seen reports from users that it launches and runs faster.  In Office 2011, we've continued that performance work.  I can't talk a lot about it just yet, so for now I'll just say that there are some absolutely awesome improvements that we're putting in our users' hands for Office 2011.  

    In my opinion, and I say this as someone who has a technical background but hasn't gotten down into the deepest innards of our code, one of the main benefits of moving to 64-bit is about future-proofing. 32-bit is going the way of the dodo, the Newton, and Carbon itself.  The future is 64-bit.  Getting there is a big technical undertaking, and it's something that we've started working on already.  For most people, they'll never notice the difference between 64-bit and 32-bit.


  • go ahead, mac my day

    Outlook:Mac usability study in Mountain View, California


    Are you in the San Francisco Bay Area, available during the week of June 21, and want to help us determine the future of Outlook:Mac?  My team is conducting a usability study for Outlook:Mac.  I need people who meet the following criteria:

    1. You use a Mac at work, and your Mac is your primary work computer.
    2. You use Tiger (10.4.x) or later.
    3. At work, you connect to an Exchange Server with your Mac.
    4. You use mail and the calendar several times per week on Exchange.
    5. You are in the San Francisco Bay Area, and are willing to come to my lab in Mountain View.
    6. You are available for ~2 hours during the week of June 21.

    If you meet all of these criteria, please email uccoord@microsoft.com with "Mac Office" in the subject line.  

    In a usability study, you will come to my office in Mountain View, California.  My team will show you some ideas for what we might do in a future version of Outlook, and we'll ask you to do some specific tasks.  You don't need to bring your Mac; we'll provide everything you need for our study.  Just bring yourself, and be prepared to tell us what you think about what we're showing you.

    If you don't meet all of these criteria, then watch here for future announcements of usability studies.  

    If you want to see a cross-section of usability studies that are conducted by Microsoft, you can follow Microsoft User Research on Facebook.  They posted this study on Facebook earlier this week: Do you use a Mac at work? Help improve Office for Mac in a research study.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    Q&A: Should I get Office:Mac now or later?


    I noticed this question on the Office:Mac forum:

    My daughter is headed to college this fall. I just got her a Mac because the college she is going to is a Mac campus...that is all they use. I would like to get her the Office 2011 for the Mac. I understand that the release date might be in 12/10 but it also might be later. Are we at a place where MS is on schedule with that or is it later? I would hate to get Office 08 if in 6 months, Office 11 comes out. Is their an upgrade policy regarding that or am I just buying two versions? I am sure others has this question as I had read that on here but didn't see any specific responses from the Mac Microsoft team. Thanks for your time.

    We're still on track to release Office:Mac 2011 later this year.  I don't have a specific date to share yet, but I will the second I can.  We don't yet have an upgrade policy.  I'll share that when I can as well.  

    Before buying Office:Mac at a retail store like the Apple Store, Best Buy, or Amazon.com, any college student should check with their institution.  Many colleges and universities offer Microsoft products, including Office:Mac, at a deeply discounted price.  (Likewise, if you're an employee of a large company, check around: you might find that your company takes part in Microsoft's Home Use Program, which also gives you a deeply discounted price for Microsoft applications.)  The student bookstore should know, and a departmental secretary will know too.  (In fact, make good friends with your departmental secretary: they know everything.)  

    If your college doesn't offer such a deeply discounted rate, and if you don't have a need to buy Office at this split instant, you might want to wait to see if any good back-to-school deals come about.  I don't know what kinds of plans the various retail outlets have, but I've often seen good back-to-school deals in previous years.  Watch the ads in your Sunday newspaper.  I'm sure that good deals will also be noted by the various Mac news websites, too.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    Office:Mac updates today: Office 2008 12.2.5, Office 2004 11.5.9


    Update Tuesday is here!

    Office:Mac 2008 12.2.5 has some security updates, as well as an improvement to the custom dictionary.  Full details are in the 12.2.5 knowledge base article.  This is a roll-up update: if you're currently on 12.1.0 or later, you can just install this update and not go through all of the previous updates, if you haven't been keeping up with our updates.

    Office:Mac 2004 11.5.9 has security updates as well; more details are in the 11.5.9 knowledge base article.  Make sure that you've installed 11.5.8 before installing 11.5.9.

    While we were on an update frenzy, we also updated the standalone Open XML File Format Converter with the same security updates; details are in its knowledge base article.   

    To update our applications, you can simply go to Help -> Check for Updates from any of the Office applications.  You can also download directly from our downloads page if you prefer.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    looking for blog feedback


    Hmmm, the move to the new blog has thrown me off more than I thought. I'm working through issues with the new platform to make things here better.  As I'm working through things, what have you noticed about this new blog that you'd like me to fix? Top of my list is getting back to full posts on the main page instead of excerpts, and also getting a post's tags visible on the main page too. What else?

  • go ahead, mac my day

    Q&A: can I send a mail in Entourage that the recipient can't forward?


    I saw this post on the Entourage product forum that has a great question about Entourage:

    Several corporate e-mail clients have security features that prevent Reply To All and Forwarding of e-mails if the flags are set for that message.
    Does Entourage have any such capability?

    This feature, where you can say "I don't want this email to be forwarded" or "I don't want the recipients of this email to be able to reply-all" is called Information Rights Management (IRM). It's not something that you can do alone on your client. It's something that the server manages.

    To use IRM, you need both a client and a server that support it. Exchange does; neither POP nor IMAP does. Today, Entourage does not support IRM. Outlook:Mac does support IRM, and it's coming out later this year. If you're on Exchange 2010, you can also create and consume IRM messages via Outlook Web Access in either Safari or Firefox because Safari and Firefox are now fully-supported in Outlook Web Access 2010.

  • go ahead, mac my day

    PowerPoint is not the right tool for every job -- and that's perfectly okay


    When I wrote my PowerPoint is not the right tool for every job post last week for Mac Mojo, I knew that it was only a matter of time before someone would read it and crow about it. I just wasn't sure who would be the first. The Apple Core blog at ZDNet didn't disappoint. In their bizarrely-titled PowerPoint: The Devil's tool? Maybe, get a Mac, David Morgenstern takes delight because I have "admitted that there are good presentations and bad presentations", following it with an "ouch!".

    I find it especially amusing that Morgenstern would make the claim that "Mac users should take many of these rules with a large dash of salt — they are based on PowerPoint's toolset and a user base unaccustomed to manipulating high-res, quality images." As Morgenstern himself points out, many of the articles that I linked to provide "good ideas" for making a good presentation and avoiding making a bad presentation. And leaving aside that PowerPoint was originally a Mac-only app and thus has a userbase that is accoustomed to his asserted behaviour, which I would expect someone who claims to have 20 years of experience in covering the Mac industry to know, presentations are rarely about "manipulating high-res, quality images" -- and they shouldn't be, either.

    Manipulation of images, preferably in ways that aren't as depressing as the recent side-by-side comparisons of the published Britney Spears photos and the untouched ones, isn't necessary or even desirable for every presentation. They're fitting in some presentations, yes, but definitely not all of them. A high-res, quality image doesn't get around the problem that was discussed in the original NY Times article: presenters need to carefully consider and polish their message, and deliver it in a manner that gets the job done right. Spending a weekend pixel-pushing a high-res, quality image in your graphic editor of choice is no better than creating that rainbow spaghetti slide if the accompanying message isn't one that is complete, accurate, concise, and understandable.

    I honestly don't know what could be wrong in saying that PowerPoint is not the right tool for every job. When I share my research with my teams, I create both a PowerPoint deck for the high-level findings, and a Word document with deep details about every aspect of the study. I present the deck to the team, discuss what I learned in my research, and use the Word document to provide additional details as necessary and to allow the team to do a deep dive into something if appropriate. For one of my standard usability studies, the PowerPoint deck is usually on the order of 15 slides, and the Word document is around 30 pages. Those two outputs have different goals and different audiences. For each of them, I choose the right tool for the job. I don't try to make one tool do everything.

    So yes, this employee of Microsoft is saying that PowerPoint is not the right tool for every job. Want to buy a new car? A spreadsheet that makes use of goal seek is a good tool for that job. Want to learn music theory? Surprisingly, you could also discover the circle of fifths in Excel, too. Writing your annual holiday letter? That's probably a job for the publishing layout view in Word:Mac. I could head into the ridiculous and point out that if you need to connect to the Windows computer that lives headless under your desk in your office (as mine does), PowerPoint is very much not the right tool for that job, but Remote Desktop Connection is. As someone said to me via Twitter today, "Hammers ain't the best tool for sawing, either. Doesn't say anything bad about hammers."

  • go ahead, mac my day

    Q&A: what's the best way to get help with Entourage?


    In my post about how you can help improve Exchange, I got the following question:

    What's the best way to get specific help to issues regarding Entourage?

    There are plenty of options:

    • The Entourage online help. We've put plenty of time and effort into making the Entourage help as awesome as it can be. If you can't find what you're looking for, or if you think that our help could be better, more clear, or something else, then help us help you. At the bottom of every help file, there's a one-question survey: did this help you? Click the appropriate button. There's also a comment field if you want to give us more details. We analyse those comments every month. That analysis leads to changes to the help files, or new ones getting written, or changes to the content plans for the next release.
    • Call Microsoft tech support. You get two free calls to tech support with your purchase of Office 2008. We've got people dedicated to providing support for Entourage, and they're really good at it.
    • Try posting your question to the Entourage product forums. There are lots of Entourage experts who hang out there and answer questions.
    • There are other Entourage-specific forums like the entourage-talk mailing list. I'm subscribed to this mailing list, although I very rarely need to answer a question there because the other experts have beaten me to it.
    • The Entourage help page is maintained by our ever-awesome Entourage MVPs, and has lots of awesome information in it. They also have a blog, and they're on Twitter too.
    • There's this blog as well. Look through my posts that are tagged with Entourage, Exchange, or Outlook. You can leave comments, which I try to answer, although all of the above methods will get you a much faster response to your question.
  • go ahead, mac my day

    PowerPoint is not the right tool for every job


    I've got a post up over at Mac Mojo today: PowerPoint is not the right tool for every job.

    For my committed readers, I'll tell you that I had a hard time naming this post. Here are the rejected titles:

    • we have met the enemy, and he is bad PowerPoint
    • some problems in the world can't be expressed in PowerPoint
    • if you've only got a PowerPoint hammer, everything looks like a presentation nail
    • your spaghetti dinner got beaten up by a rainbow
    • use the right tool for every job, and you won't become one (this suggestion courtesy of Rick Schaut, who might even actually blog again before the end of eternity)
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