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Things I like and things I don't

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Well I upgraded my Main Development Box to Office 2007 when Microsoft sent me the update. And I've been happy with it. That's to say that I have no complaints about it. It's backward compatible. It'll even write out PDF files directly (which isn't much of an issue as I have Acrobat, but hey). All in all, it's a pretty capable update. And I do rather like the new ribbon-toolbar-thingy. They managed to package up all the old functionality in an easier-to-navigate package.

But it is SLOW!

Actually it's just slow to load. Once it's loaded, it performs just fine. When I needed some office tools on my laptop, I considered Office for a bit, but then I decided to try OpenOffice again just for snorts and giggles because I shuddered to think how Office 2007 would perform on my cheapo laptop. I'd installed OpenOffice a few years ago to see if it'd be good for the company, and it really wasn't ready for prime-time. It had loads of ragged edges and it had its own weird desktop metaphor that was confusing. And it didn't have an analogue for Outlook. Quite simply, it wasn't as good.

Fast-forward to 2008, and I no longer need an analogue for Outlook, as I use Google Calendar for all my schedules and Yahoo Deluxe Mailer ($20 a year and well worth it) for all my email. So I tried OpenOffice again. And it's gotten quite a bit better. It was actually about as capable as Office and no longer had the ragged edges and it loaded up quite quickly even on my $350 Wal-Mart brand laptop.

Okay, there was one really ragged edge. Upon running it last week, it popped up a box that said "There's a new version out now. You want I should upgrade?". I pressed "yes" expecting a quick seamless Office-esque (or Firefox-esque for you who don't use Office) upgrade process. It then downloaded the complete installer for the new version, uninstalled the previous version, then re-installed the new version (after I re-told it what options I wanted) until it got up to about 80% complete at which point it said that something wasn't right and it was gonna uninstall itself and that I should probably try to run it again.

So its "upgrade" basically consisted of removing itself entirely from my machine. Thankfully I re-ran the installer as administrator and it worked the second time. Still, that's an ugly upgrade process they have there.

So OpenOffice is finally nice. Sorry if I'm late to that party.



Oh, and two pieces of anti-Kudos for Adobe. First is for their silly attempt to prevent Office 2007 from writing PDF files directly. If you remember a year or so ago, they were threatening to sue sue sue Microsoft for putting a "save as PDF" function into Office. Mind you, several other products already had this functionality at the time (including OpenOffice). They just didn't want Office to have it. They claimed it was because Microsoft would destroy their open standard, notwithstanding that PDF is an open standard over which MS has no control.

What was obvious and what Adobe wasn't saying was that Adobe had a nice cash-cow selling Acrobat Deluxe to Office users, and if Office 2007 could save to PDF, that market would dry up.

And Adobe succeeded. Okay, actually they didn't. They were successful in preventing MS from installing PDF support from the install CD. That means that if you install Office, you still have a "PDF" option in the save-as menu, and when you choose this for the first time, Office says "Oh, that didn't install by default. You mind if I run out to the website and grab the PDF-saver-thingy?" and then it pops up a loading box, downloads whatever PDF DLL it needs, and from then on you can save PDF files just fine.

So, in short, Adobe succeeded in preventing Office 2007 users from saving files as PDF for about the first two minutes of their first attempt to use it. Quite a victory there.


The second anti-Kudos for Adobe is that Fireworks CS3 is now the only piece of software on my machine that is STILL incompatible with Vista Aero. Mind you, they've only known about this problem since Vista was in early beta, and Fireworks CS3 has only been on the market for almost a year now, so it's understandable that they couldn't fix the problem yet.

Not. I'm now using Paint Shop Pro 5 for most of my image editing. It loads quickly and works with Aero. Amazing, eh?
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Did you file a bug report about the update issue? It's possible they, like every other moron on the face of the planet, forgot to secure admin permissions before making system changes.

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That's what I don't like about office 2007 also; the product's UI is nice but it's resource heavy. Even with it loaded it can be very slow.

For example, right now I'm doing a build using VS 2005. I alt-tabbed to Outlook 2007 and timed how long it took until I could interact with the UI: 27 seconds. I used to use Thunderbird and the same operation took only a few seconds. It's not like the machine is a slouch: it's a 2.4GHz Core Duo 2 with 2Gig of 800MHz memory. The odd thing is that the machine is not memory starved; the process meter is currently showing ~700M free.

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I was just thinking I needed a calendar app the other day - cheers for the Google Calendar heads up - didn't know it even existed :)

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