For god’s sake Microsoft, support your own file formats

The other day, a nice man at Microsoft sent me an interesting document in Microsoft Word format. I couldn’t open it, because I’m using Microsoft Word on the Mac. He’s on Office 2007, I’m on Office 2004. Office 2004 no likey Office 2007 files.

Dear Mr Microsoft, I replied. Thanks for the file. Any chance I could have it in a format that works with, er, Microsoft Office?

Now, I’m no Microsoft hater, I actually like Office:Mac – I prefer working in Word:Mac to working in any other word processor – and I appreciate that the Mac BU has its work cut out finishing off Office 2008. But Office 2007 has been out since January, the Mac BU promised to ship Mac converters in March or April, and it’s now May. Where’s my sodding .docx converters? It can’t be that difficult, because there are plenty of online converters that will take a .docx and turn it into basic RTF. So where are the official ones?

The lack of converters is really annoying, because when it comes to operating systems I swing both ways, baby. PCs are running Vista and Office 2007, among other things. Macs are running Office 2004. I frequently work on one and then transfer to the other, and even more frequently I’ll be working in 2007 and forget to save the file in the old Office format.  And then I call Microsoft very nasty names.

There are two issues here. One, if you promise to ship something on X date and then don’t, it annoys the crap out of your customers – particularly if you don’t pop up and go “hey! Sorry! Here’s what’s happening!”. And two, if you introduce a new file format, it’s a good idea to make sure all your other software actually supports it.

10 thoughts on “For god’s sake Microsoft, support your own file formats

  1. Squander Two says:

    Another perk of my new job: Microsoft Office for 17 quid. Class. I love Word. Well, Word for Mac, anyway; Word for Windows is the work of an arse.

  2. mupwangle says:

    Have they brought out a universal office yet or is it still rosetta? All of the stuff I’ve had to run on rosetta seems to crash a lot. :-( I’ve got office for windows but it takes ages to boot parallels. It still runs faster than mac:office though.

    Apparently sun have employed a couple of folk to make a universal binary of openoffice instead of the X11 version.

  3. Gary says:

    Yeah, I’m not sure why they’re doing that when NeoOffice is doing exactly the same, and is pretty far on. It used to be X11 but now it’s Java-based. Haven’t tried it since a very early alpha, though, so don’t know what its performance is like now.

    Office 2008’s currently in beta and that’s universal. 2004 runs fine on my MacBook, although it takes a while to load. No crashes so far and I’ve been utterly hammering it.

  4. Ben says:

    I’ve been using OpenOffice for aaaages now and I wouldn’t go back – I found MS Office used to crash on me a lot, and I can count on one hand the number of times OO has crashed.

    ..and no sodding paperclip either! Woop!

  5. Alex says:

    I use OpenOffice as well, it’s great! I’m a firm supporter of Open Source stuff – I’ve replaced Photoshop with GIMPshop, Illustrator with Inkscape and a few other things with their free equivalent.

    One thing I can recommend though is CrossOver – it’s still in early development stages but it already allows me to run a few Windows apps on my MacBook without having to have Windows installed. Once they’ve nailed it it’s going to be one of the best apps out there IMO.

  6. Gary says:

    I’m a firm supporter of Open Source stuff

    You might be interested in Ubuntu Studio, then. It’s a linux distro packed with creativity programs, including music multitracking. Could be particularly interesting on older hardware – I’ll need to check to see whether it runs on my superannuated G4 Mac Mini.

  7. Gary says:

    Incidentally, I’m a bit out of date in PC music making. Anyone recommend a good free or open source music recording thing, ideally with support for drum loops and stuff?

  8. Squander Two says:

    Every single issue of (I think) Computer Music magazine comes with their own multi-track software. Looks a bit like Cubase. And Rebirth is free now: they made it free to celebrate their tenth anniversary or something — they now regard it as obsolete and they want you to buy their new improved products, but it’s still, by all accounts, a bloody good program.

    Whatever you get, download the freeware VST plugin that is the Northpole resonant filter. Fantastic.

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