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Office 2000 is good to go (learningbyshipping.com)
120 points by tosh 18 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 154 comments

Oh for the simplicity and consistency of Office 2000. I now live in the hell that is Office+SharePoint+Teams, where features churn at random intervals and nobody knows where anything is really stored.

This is a real thing that happens to me regularly:

Someone sends me an email with a spreadsheet attached. Except it’s not an attachment, even though it looks like one. Needless to say I can’t access it until I’m online. I get online and find that the attachment is actually some kind of link. I click it and it opens a web browser. Inside the browser is Teams. Then actual Teams opens, and inside Teams is a half-assed version of Excel. I can do some casual browsing around the spreadsheet, but I need real Excel to use it properly. There is a button to open the spreadsheet in Sharepoint, but I avoid that because I know it’s a trap (Sharepoint is where the three-quarter-assed version of Excel lives). The button I need is “Open in Desktop App”. And I finally get to use the spreadsheet. But apparently it is stored on Sharepoint? Or is it OneDrive? And Teams is actually Sharepoint behind the scenes anyway? Autosave will be turned either on or off, randomly, so maybe my edits are being auto-shared with other users? I guess I can get back to an old version because Sharepoint versioning is turned on. Or maybe it isn’t? I can share the spreadsheet with a colleague, but I can choose to make it read-only - so how does that work? Have I now got two copies of it, a read-only one and a writeable one? Is it really my file anyway, since I got the link to it from someone else originally?

(I do actually know the answers to some of the above questions, but what an utter farce it has become).

> But apparently it is stored on Sharepoint? Or is it OneDrive? And Teams is actually Sharepoint behind the scenes anyway?

Yep it is and in fact so is OneDrive itself. So in the end everything is stored in SharePoint. Somewhere. Somehow. SharePoint isn't exactly good at finding stuff however so it's all there somewhere but doubt you'll ever find it back in SharePoint proper.

Totally agree with your post by the way. Office 2000 was also really fast (even on my Pentium 1 laptop!), offered all the features I need even today and didn't constantly update itself changing stuff around or breaking things.

But selling one copy in 21 years is not a good business model and software as a service is what Bill was crazy about even then. So O365 was inevitable.

I think SharePoint is by far the weakest part of the offering though. Even without it being used as a backend for the other services it inevitably ends up a trash bin of old stuff that nobody knows how to find or update. I've even seen the most rigidly managed projects fail miserably.

Sharepoint is misery.

I've given up on reporting it so here you get another for free: if you use the information protection feature in SharePoint, be sure to test it extremely carefully.

We evaluated it for a project two years ago and what we luckily realized before putting it into production was that there was a simple and straightforward way for an end user to download unencrypted versions of all the files they had access to, and no way to prevent it that we or the local Microsoft team could find.

(This was before the pandemic and might have been fixed now but it was so bad I figured it is worth mentioning. It was trivially easy once you know about it, something about how you logged in, but there was nothing to warn admins about it.)

If I understand your scenario, it is pretty silly anyways and probably meant as a checkbox to tick for procurement to agree to purchase Office 365.

It does not make sense to me to say I can view a document but not download it. If I can view a document, I can do screen capture. I think this used to be called the analog hole or something.

No, that's not what I'm talking about. To try to secure against the analog hole you have to increase background checks, only open documents in secure areas etc.

What I'm talking about is a light way to secure documents that are sent with trustworthy technicians out in the field, to prevent against consequences from honest mistakes, not intentional spying.

This worked pretty well in first tests and for the clients demands (but every company should make sure to verify it for their own requirements).

What Microsoft tried to sell us on was that SharePoint should be able apply this lightweight protection automatically to these files.

> What I'm talking about is a light way to secure documents that are sent with trustworthy technicians out in the field, to prevent against consequences from honest mistakes, not intentional spying.

Isn't this what Azure Information Protection is supposed to be?

Yep. And somehow SharePoint was supposed to apply either AIP or something similar automatically.

On the other hand, when Office 2000 was popular, the popular alternative was quarterly_sales_figures_final_v2_2002_Q2_3_final_v3.xls

> quarterly_sales_figures_final_v2_2002_Q2_3_final_v3.xls

People still do that even with Teams and SharePoint.

Works for me.

Yeah at least you could still find that back. And if you misplaced it, it was your own fault and not just lost in some dark corner of the cloud.

until its amended then becomes new_quarterly_sales_figures_final_v2_2002_Q2_3_final_v3.xls

You make me happy that my company is too skint to buy all those solutions: we're still sharing Office 2016 actual files by email (some poor souls are still on Office 2010).

I uninstalled Teams from my PC (it was crashing) and only use it in Edge for the few confs I must participate in.

Now if I could throw away my (yup still corded) phone and stop my colleagues from coming to my desk to interrupt me, I would be happy ;)

We got rid of our business desktop corded phone recently.

Now we have a USB headset and voice calls over the IM software instead!

But I have three completely separately networked environments with three machines on my desk. I may be working on one with the other two locked.

If I am lucky enough to notice I am being called, I have to switch my headset over to that machine.

This now means a phone call requires instant messaging first to make sure the hardware is in place.

And don't even get started on the accessibility advocates take.

Well my desk phone is the old office thing I miss the least. And I was actually an accredited Avaya administrator.

But I moved to mobile management as I saw the storm coming. I really don't see the need anymore for intra-office communication and the IM tool is way nicer than the Avaya softphones ever were. Funnily enough their first one was pretty lightweight and great and then they kept rebranding it and making it this bloaty, slow and ugly "One-X" thing.

Also I LOVE the trend of people asking first if I'm available for a call. That's an amazing trend.

I also work on multiple machines too but I'm always signed in on my phone too so if someone rings me on Teams I'll hear my mobile going off.

this is only the tip of the iceberg of Teams hell. Another thing that really happens: 1. you share a $file with $person1 over chat. 2. you share that same $file with $person2 over chat. $person2 cannot read it. they do not have permission to access the file that is stored in the team with $person1. Over a certain file size, teams defaults to hosting _some_ files out of your one drive, but can't figure out the permissions.

Or: 1. you start chatting in a meeting. The chat persists. The meeting is cancelled. Now the chat is called $meeting_name (cancelled). All the files and chat are attached to that.

or: 1. you have a chat with $person1 and $person2 2. you are also on a team with $person1 and $person2 3. you are on a calendar invite with $person1 and $person2. ALL of those have their own file storage directories, chats, and PERSISTENCE. But, they are not linked, and everything in them is permanent, but cannot be searched (effectively)

The fact that teams meetings have persistent file share and chat is actually mind bending. Because that feature is not just "meet with a team".

final one: 1. you can be on team with 5 people. 2. you can create infinite channels in that team, not everyone in the team is necessarily on every channel. The file structure of the channel is _not_ hierarchical from the team. sorta.

I honestly don't know what they are thinking. Instead of version control, save as, and renaming, we instead have an abysmal proliferation of shares which are at any given time being cleaned up, archived, or purged for non-use by an IT department who is doing their best. But, as users, I can spawn a new discrete file share environment for every single chat I have. Don't even contemplate what happens when you have 4 people in a chat, share a file and add a 5th person.

all the possible inversions are terrible.

Also: none of the stuff in the teams, files, folders, calendar chats, channels, or one-to-one chats end up in my Onedrive. None of this stuff can be turned off by group policy, either.

If anyone at microsoft reads this: Please, allow group policy to disable file STORAGE in arbitrary chats. share is fine, but I don't want to send a file to someone and have that stored version become the authoritative version. I want to send them a file. If i wanted a cloud version, I could put it in a team or in one drive.

Everything I do is saved on sharepoint and onedrive. I don't know what the hell sharepoint is or how to access it or if it is even different than onedrive. but its happening at my institution so, hey.

I always attach real docs to my emails though never the editable linky things, and I periodically rename my doc under different file names to preserve older versions, even though I've heard it keeps autosaved versions somewhere inside the document. I guess I just like the "physicality" of separate document files for security.

All these things said, I actually like one-drive quite a bit. It allows me to easily switch between computers etc.

OneDrive is pretty good but it's very picky about filenames. This is because of its SharePoint backend.

I found a workaround though: using an encryption tool like Cryptomator the filenames are also encrypted and any funky characters end up in nice acceptable-everywhere base64. Additionally Microsoft doesn't get to look over my shoulder. Win-win (I'm on Mac tough otherwise it would be Win-win-win :-) )


I can confirm above is entirely real and extremely painful. I too experience this daily.

At least you got emailed the file. I frequently had it start with someone telling me "that's in the (XYZ) doc". And now I don't even have a starting point (even XYZ is an organizational descriptor, and in no way part of the title or contents of the doc).

Emacs is more user friendly than Office.

I believe some around 2000 Office and Windows reached their peaks of usability. They seemed to designed to get stuff done.

Since then it seems they crammed more and more "intelligent" functions into the software that made them less predictable. I still don't know under what circumstances Windows Search finds things sometimes and sometimes it doesn't. Lately Outlook search feels random. Teams search is a complete mess. When I write stuff in Word, Word seems very opinionated and messes up formatting all the time. Saving things to our disk is also an ordeal because they are pushing OneDrive.

> When I write stuff in Word, Word seems very opinionated and messes up formatting all the time

This has been an issue with Word from its inception. This is because Word is broken at its core. The formatting is neither style based nor paragraph based. It's a weird mix. You can apply a style and then override it ad hoc creating a mess of a structure under the covers no doubt. I also heard horror stories about the native Word file format (at least in the days of Word6/Word97).

The Office won out purely on the sheer marketing muscle of Microsoft and their ceaseless effort to make competing software feel inferior on their operating systems. Without that I doubt they'd be where they are now in terms of market penetration.

I was explaining to one of my coworkers how back in the day with WordPerfect you could click "Show Codes" (or whatever the menu option was called) and view all the embedded formatting tags as text rather than WYSIWYG. This made it incredibly easy to fix formatting issues and see what was wrong with an unintended interaction of styles. As people who had only ever used (read: fought with) Microsoft Word, they were mind-blown that such a thing once existed.

We maintain technical documentation and have to manually track page changes, which ultimately results in physical pages being printed and replaced in physical binders in many facilities. Use of Microsoft Word for this purpose is sketchy as f--- because when Word decides to "go nuts" and slightly reformat the next 100 pages (or worse, even previous pages) because of a minor edit, it turns a single page change into a hundreds-of-pages change apocalypse.

Of course we don't really let that outcome stand; what actually happens is an engineer (with occasional consultation of a documentation specialist) spends half a day tentatively prodding and undoing changes in an increasingly broken document trying to find a way through the maze that doesn't trigger either a formatting booby trap or Word's over-helpful malevolent AI.

The key point here is without the ability to "show codes" and edit the real underlying structure of the document not the WYSIWYG view, the entropy just increases over time.

We all agree that Word is not the appropriate software for what we're doing. Unfortunately the people with the power to fix this situation are the furthest removed from understanding our pain, and we have decades' worth of Word docs. And since Microsoft Office is the default, even when Word breaks compatibility we don't take advantage of that opportunity to move to a real document management system, they just keep buying the next version of Office.

You can show codes in Word. They've just buried it about 12 layers deep.

Really? Where?

In my version (2010) it's File -> Options -> Display -> Show all formatting marks, and/or File -> Options -> Advanced -> Show field codes instead of their values. I've heard it's even harder to find in newer versions.

Thanks! At work we're on 365 sadly but now that I know what the options are called I'll Google them!

I agree with you, playing devil's advocate though I would argue that Office largely won because it targeted casual usages even if it meant hurting professional ones. Then give it away to schools for $0 (in the 1990s) so they'd get a mass of beginner/casual users that brought it with them into professional settings.

Word is awful at professional typesetting, but it is really easy to use casually for making resumes/letters/etc. Excel is excellent for making lists of things and basic accounting/graphing.

Aside; the original Microsoft Office formats (e.g. doc) were formulated in C header files (i.e. a serialized array of C data types). They were garbage. Current Microsoft Office formats (ending in "x" e.g. docx) are night-and-day better (they're standard zip files with boring XML files within). People should go unzip a docx file and check it out, very not-intiminating.

Sorry, I have to give bonus points for, "their ceaseless effort to make competing software feel inferior on their operating systems."

The point where Microsoft Word overtook WordPerfect was when Microsoft released Windows 95, which somehow broke WordPerfect, and refused to give Corel any access to it in advance of the release. By the time Corel had figured out how to make WordPerfect run 6 months later, it was too late, Microsoft Word was more widely used.

Incidentally the original formats were literally a dump of in memory data structures. Which means that compatibility became a huge headache every time Microsoft tried to change its internal data structures. That's WHY they migrated to the docx format.

"(they're standard zip files with boring XML files within)"

that's the container format. But the actual document data is still a big mess. Although that's probably unavoidable if you keep a file format for a long time. PDF and Photoshop files are also a mess.

Targeting casual use was the key. Even in the "professional" world almost nobody uses the Office applications to their full extent. The people who can are using more appropriate software. Accountants have Intuit and Peachtree, Anyone working in graphics, design or typesetting will use the appropriate Adobe app or competitor. Power Point is probably the only member of the suite that doesn't have a more "professional" equivalent. But there are definitely people who are more adept with it in the business world.

Office was probably feature complete in its second or third iteration. The only substantive changes 99% of users notice are in interface overhauls.

> Targeting casual use was the key.

I feel like that's what Google does with chromebooks and their editor suite

Have you ever read the documentation for that XML? It’s basically written in Zodiac cypher.

The native Word file format is so complicated because it was basically a filesystem in a file, designed for extensibility scenarios such as embedding documents into other documents via OLE:


The structured storage part isn’t the problem, because Word doesn’t actually use it much except when you use OLE (the seemingly builtin things that use OLE are images, the abominable Equation, and maybe WordArt). IIRC the Word 97 format is essentially the previous Word format (whatever it was called) changed to use UCS-2 throughout, packed into a single stream in OLE storage, plus a bit of frills such as \005SummaryInformation.

(This is to be compared with e.g. OOXML spreadsheets, which go as far as to store the sheets of cells and the strings inside those cells in two completely different entries of the ZIP container.)

Everything that a Word document is maps 1:1 to a relatively straightforward string-of-bytes RTF. (With, again, the exception of OLE, which is why WordPad can write stuff that it assigns a .DOC suffix but is in fact an RTF stuffed into structured storage.) In fact, there was a piece of Microsoft software called the WinWord Converter SDK (Q111716) that used RTF as an intermediate format and had a bunch of DLLs that could read and write other formats; a compatible set of DLLs shipped with Windows and supported WordPad, and a larger one shipped with Word proper and contained all of its foreign format support.

However, if you look at that perfectly innocent, easily parseable RTF, you’ll find that it is still a nightmare. Not only because Word generated horrible unoptimized RTFs and only used Unicode text if it couldn’t avoid it, but also exactly because it can represent everything that a Word document is, and that is an unfathomable amount of stuff to be able to represent, even for Word 97. (None of which the alleged RTF spec tells you how to render or lay out.)

My personal answer to the question “why can’t one replace Word?”, or rather “why are all replacements for Word either failures or not particularly better?” is that Word can do (and thus supporting its format requires you to implement) so much that being compatible with Word is effectively equivalent to just being Word. To be fair, OpenOffice Writer is a pretty decent Word and I do use it when I need one, but it’s very uninteresting as a contribution to the field of handling formatted text on computers.

OpenOffice Writer and LibreOffice Writer have their proper bugs of their own, to the point that it's very frustrating to work with a non-trivial document. Many of these include some aspects of formatting not being saved to file and not restored when re-loading the file. And this is saving to .odt and not .doc or .docx. The Calcs have many bugs too. I have reported some but have since given up. For serious work I return to Word.

The other alternatives are not better. A couple of weeks ago I needed to create a catalog of products that is just a few pages long. Calligra couldn't even show the image I added; there was bounding box which could be moved around but no images were shown. Abiword got glacially slow when adding a ~4MB image.

Once upon a time I worked for a company that did document viewer software (in the year and a half I was there it went through three names none of which I can remember). One of my first tasks was—no, seriously—debugging an issue where an animated gif in an Excel spreadsheet embedded in a Word document wasn't being animated.

> You can apply a style and then override it ad hoc creating a mess of a structure under the covers no doubt. I also heard horror stories about the native Word file format (at least in the days of Word6/Word97).

Yeah I really miss the source screen of WordPerfect. That was an amazing feature and if they added that to Word it would actually be worth it to upgrade for once.

WordPerfect (12 or 14 I believe) still runs on Windows 10. May have to run in compatibility mode. We have an employee that uses it today because of Show Codes.

People don’t know how or why to use styles. I actually read the entire word manual that came with version 5 for the Mac. Best thing I ever did in grad school

Saving things to our disk is also an ordeal because they are pushing OneDrive.

Christ don't remind me. The galaxy-brains at my work decided every file on every PC needs to go into OneDrive on a constant-update basis. Between the fact we're still stuck using HDDs instead of SSDs and our network hitting 16 megabits per second on a good day, most people have managed to get an impressive amount of reading done while waiting for their PCs to do anything at all.

We were recently notified that external USB storage will soon be banned, and to use OneDrive to transfer files.

My question to IT of "Hey we have clients that explicitly only allow the use of their own (incredibly terrible) file transfer platform, and block OneDrive. We've been burning stuff to CD with a usb drive and hand delivering it, if you ban those wat do?"

Got the form "this is how you use OneDrive" response back. Love it.

Sounds like an organizational issue in your work place. Usually these are the best dealt by changing the employer. They rarely get fixed from within the organization itself.

Making it impossible to work with clients also tends to lead to the loss of those clients and as a result changing one's employer due to the employer no longer existing :)

This includes the VPs in question so usually these things get fixed before it gets that far though. But not before everyone else in the org has had a chance to practice their facepalm skills though.

In other words I feel your pain :)

Throwing a fit while the VP is around often helps :). It always amazes me how quickly things get done when the guy who controls the budget wants something.

> We were recently notified that external USB storage will soon be banned

With how often USB drives with PII get lost, this is probably a good idea. I'd prefer Dropbox over OneDrive, though.

Completely agree. Office 2000 and Windows 2000 are probably my favorite Microsoft software of all time. They performed well on mid-range hardware (I ran them on Pentium II and III), were the best they’ve looked (imho), and let you get things done. For a long time I installed Windows 2000 in VMs for running older games and software, even into the Vista days.

I would accept arguments that Office peaked between Word 6 and ‘98, but everything after Windows and Office 2000 were worse. XP’s Luna was an ugly reaction to OS X’s Aqua. Things kept getting slower and larger for no obvious addition of functionality.

I’ve long since left Windows behind, but still have found memories of Microsoft circa 2000.

XP's luna didn't run very deep though. XP was very similar in appearance to 2000 with a couple of minor settings tweaks

Classic mode was easy to turn on.

Win95 had very strict and consistent UI style. Office2k and Win2k were peak of this consistency. After that came WinXP and mismatch of inconsistent UI styles.

I've had to teach people to use PCs many times, it used to be so much easier for this reason. You'd teach someone that "this icon mean THIS" and that would be that, but today that is impossible because there are five different graphics/ideas for each thing (plus of course iconography used to use analogies from real-life, like a pen for Word, bin for throwing stuff away, folders, etc).

Windows 10 never really reached self-consistency in six years, and it seems like Microsoft just doesn't care at this point with Windows 11 now just layering more contradictory concepts on the unfinished Windows 10 ones.

Its to the point where I'd rather have text than icons in the various menus.

Look at old pictures of (say) Netscape Navigator. Despite having far fewer pixels we somehow had enough to label our icons. What went wrong?

Globalization happened

English "250 views" = 8 chars wide German "250 mal angesehen" = 17 chars wide

English "FAQ" = 3 chars wide Portuguese "Perguntas freqüentes" = 20 characters wide

It isn't uncommon for english words to expand 200-300% when translated to other languages.

I'd love to see a german, italian, or portuguese version of netscape to see how they fit those labels

> I'd love to see a german, italian, or portuguese version of netscape to see how they fit those labels


Doesn't look like a showstopper, at least for the specific toolbar icons that Netscape had.

"Verwandte Objek" seems cut off, it should be "Objekte" but other than that it aligns pretty well.

Ps my German is basic so perhaps I'm wrong

nice find! There are a few English bits on there: guide, stop, shop. Wonder why

"Guide" and "stop" are not only English words, but present in lots of European languages. "Shop" is a common loanword from English in lots of these European languages.

I imagine that abbreviations are common in these languages?

It really depends on the phrase. FAQ was just used as an extreme example.

The French made up a translation to fit the acronym.

FAQ = “Foire aux questions”, where “foire” is the French word for a fair, a place where you go to see many things (in this case, questions).

I think when I was in 4th grade, using Netscape, I spoke english but didn't know what FAQ meant. I think I probably searched it on Altavista.

Yeah what doesn't help is that dialog windows from that era are still in Windows 11 today... Especially around the settings.

A big part of this is mentioned in the article:

> The biggest competition for Office 2000 was . . . Office 97.

> We were so heads down finishing Office 2000 that we didn’t realize how well received, and how good, Office 97 was.

They had to keep introducing new shit to get people to upgrade. If your feature was the hot new feature, you got promoted. So everyone wanted to get their pet feature in, and the users lost.

I'd say 2003 is the last best version. It's the last version without ribbon and it is able to support OOXML with an addon. The UI experiments like partially hidden menus are all disableable if you don't want them.

I concur except conveniently the Office 2007 compatibility pack is fully compatible with Office 2000. Microsoft took their page down but here is a mirror at download.com [1] and from this Stack Exchangw thread [2]

[1] https://download.cnet.com/Microsoft-Office-Compatibility-Pac...

[2] https://superuser.com/questions/404902/microsoft-office-comp...

Yeah, Office 2003 is the sweet spot. It's also the last version that installs entirely offline, without any attempts to sign in or phone home for verification.

Office 2003 has usage telemetry, and was apparently quite useful when they were making Office 2007, because they knew what people actually used and how often.

I used a portable version of Word 2003 for many many years. It would run off an old 128MB flash drive.

The extra clicks every time you try to save anything in newer versions of Office before you can get to a file picker dialog is truly maddening.

F12 is your friend here. (It brings up the old file save as menu in most office software, wish it was more standard, actually)

What I find the worst about Teams' search is how it can find individual messages, but not the context surrounding them! So you can find the question you asked 6 months ago, but not the answers! And no way to go back to a precise date in the past (or I haven't found it) and scrolling too quickly is buggy.

Between my two work computers, I have different versions of outlook and between the two, Microsoft seriously screwed up the search.

Though I don't have issues with the windows search, maybe because I don't search inside the files (I don't use windows search to do that)?

and scrolling too quickly is buggy.

Blame the "designers" who thought infinite scrolling was a good idea. Combine that with a disappearing scrollbar and it's a usability nightmare.

I wish so bad I could just dump teams chats to a .txt file. I must have 100s of pages of chat with some people. And, the people I chat the most with are the chats I need to search the most, and it also the place where search works the worst!

This... It is so annoying. Especially as we use teams for longer now and looking back manually is really unfeasible now.

Yeah the teams search drives me crazy, I can find the comment I'm looking for, but it's impossible to find the thread with all of the important context if it's too old

reminds me of this:


Only denvercoder9 is myself!

This. I can't believe this garbage is considered to serious option.

Yeah, and I’m terrified by the “new” UI Outlook keeps prompting me to “try”, knowing that one day the old one will probably just go away.

The new UI takes up way more space and completely messes up my preferred split-screen approach (e.g. instead of working in a 50/50 layout, the new UI basically forces the split to be more like 70/30 with less useful stuff on screen).

I just can’t work out how to turn off “focused” inbox. I want me mail, and all of it!

It's there fortunately. I also turn off threaded and focused modes because they make it too likely I miss something.

I am a Windows user since 3.11 (so 25+ years).

I am yet to see a single instance when a troubleshooting wizard was not a complete waste of time.

No kidding... So true.

Sinofsky was pretty grounded in the early days but I've heard during the Windows 8 development he was burying his head in the sand, surrounding himself with yes-men and pretending like all (internal) feedback about the idiotic design was coming from people "afraid of change" (yes, literally replied that to someone that sent him honest feedback about the product).

The folks that came up with the "remove the start button" design in Windows 8 where the same PMs & designers that came up with the Ribbon in Office; and he knew early feedback about the Ribbon was mostly negative and yet in a short time it became very popular; so he must've thought the same thing was happening with the start menu (but as we know now, it wasn't, it was just very bad design - not "ahead of its time", just broken and idiotic).

Reading between the lines of enumerous blog posts, I think him and his yes man were also responsible for torpedoing Longhorn and replacing all .NET ideas with COM.

So now we have to "enjoy" that since then all new APIs are COM based.

It is going to take decades to undo this, if until then we don't move all into "Azure OS" and it stops being relevant.

My biggest beef with Sinofsky is that he was apparently the one heavily pushing for JavaScript as a high-level ".NET replacement" for end-user apps running on top of all that COM API in Win8. So much effort spent on dev tooling around that, when it could have been spent on improving .NET instead.

Yes, Longhorn failed not due to technical issues, although yes there were quite a few of them.

It failed because teams worked against each other making sure it wouldn't happen, instead of sorting out the issues in a collaborative manner.

Joe Duffy mentions on his Rustconf keynote that even with Midori running in front of Windows team, they were asserting it wasn't possible to have such an OS.

To be fair, that’s precisely what Electron is, and Microsoft now uses it heavily.

Mind you, they’re using Electron because they couldn’t make a .NET GUI framework live for more than two years.

MAUI is due to die around 2025, mark my words.

It is quite telling of the ongoing mess when Blazor steals the show, they keep talking about React Native for WinUI, and a third party (Uno) was able to deliver when Microsoft own teams can't.

Also why on earth did they decided to go with Catalist for macOS, when everyone knows it is only good for porting iOS apps?

I agree with the death expectation for MAUI.

Also I think WinFS would really have been a great idea. I'm sad it was cancelled.

Breaking everything now to maybe win in the future is not Microsoft's way.

Their way is: Make a new thing, use the old thing to push the new thing.

It wasn't their way, nowadays ask anyone burned with XNA, Managed DirectX, Silverlight, C++/CX, WinRT 8, UAP 8.1, UWP, WCF,.... how they feel about Microsoft support.

Make a new thing, use the old thing to push the new thing.

New thing fails, make a new new thing.

So Managed DirectX was replaced with XNA.

Silverlight was just MSFlash, although it used XAML which is still used today I assume.

C++/CX was replaced with C++/WinRT

WinRT the runtime started the sandboxing and ARM support path.

What's UAP?

UWP is still around, but again, no one cared because HTML5.

And at least WCF is open source, although does anyone use it?

At some point MS realised Windows wasn't important and moved to Azure.

Managed Direct X was replaced by an incompatible XNA, which was dropped on the floor, with the advice to learn C++ and move into DirectXTK.

Silverlight was the app framework for Windows Phone 7 as well, dropped on the floor for Windows Phone 8.

C++/CX was replaced by a junk framework that is basically ATL with a new name, with the same tooling as Visual C++ 6.0 with ATL.

UAP was the percusor for UWP.

The "compatibility story" goes like this. Windows 8 drops all compatibility with former Windows, but WinRT requires rewriting the application three times, for phone, tablet and desktop, due to the API space.

Windows 8.1 improves the situation by introducing UAP, where the views still have to be written three times, but the API space for business logic can be shared. Requires a rewrite from previous WinRT.

Windows 10 introduces UWP, as consolidation of three platforms, requires a rewrite from previous WinRT.

XAML islands get introduced as bridge between Win32 and UWP, a year later plan gets dropped and WinUI 3.0 gets introduced, and Project Reunion.

Yet another year ensues, WinUi is now merged with Project Reunion as the Windows App SDK.

Requires yet another rewrite.

In the middle of this, .NET Native gets dropped, and .NET 6 still doesn't provide the same AOT capabilities.

On the C++ side, a group of devs manages to kill C++/CX without any equivalent tooling, telling everyone complaining that customers should suck it up and wait for the day ISO C++ supports Herb Sutter's metaclasses ideas, so that they don't do any C++ extensions like C++/CX or god forbid Qt and C++ Builder.

Lots of enterprises stuck with .NET Framework use WCF.

As for Azure OS, lets see what the future holds, it isn't the only cloud OS in town.

This is what frustrates me about Microsoft sometimes. They try to stick to backwards compatibility as much as possible, then once in a while they decide to change something, usually do it not great (Windows 8), then they have to have a goodwill recovery period where they can’t break anything anymore. I think the backlash to 11’s changes means we’re probably stuck with the Windows 95 printer pane for another ten years.

With the advent of high speed virtualization, it’s okay to break stuff (shoot, they tried it with XP Mode in 7, don’t know why they haven’t tried it again). I don’t know if we still need 20 years of compatibility.

Oh yeah Win8 was such a big misstep. I really hated it and the server version which I still deal with sometimes today.

I think Win11 is pretty good except for the fact that there's way too many old style settings dialogs left over, just like Win10. If it was actually consistent I'd love its design.

I miss buying office once and not having to tie it to a microsoft account, live in constant fear of it unregistering on an application server, resetting an office 365 user's password because it randomly stopped working. Office 2000 was so good I miss those times. It launched stupid fast, worked well, and I can't think of any bugs I ran into.

I still use Office 2000. On modern hardware, it opens faster than my mouse button finished coming up from the click on the icon. In an extremely un-microsoft-like move, a while ago microsoft released an add-on package for it called "office 2007 format converters" that makes it capable of opening and saving new xml+zip based formats.

I recommend this setup to everyone. Fast, smooth, no ads, and works well.

Yeah, the speed of the older stuff was amazing - EVEN on older machines.

Office 365 with the plugins now required at work / one drive etc - slow.

There’s no excuse for a word processor to be anything but. :(

> The biggest competition for Office 2000 was . . . Office 97.

And this is why Microsoft and Adobe are both pushing their products entirely over to subscriptions which stop working if you stop paying: They really don't do anything from version to version that justifies the cost or effort in upgrading.

Subscription pricing for desktop software is an incredible way to tell your customers you have a lot of employees to feed that don't really do much to deliver new value to the customer.

I guess that's tongue in check. If that were the case shareholders would push for a reduction in the workforce.

I find modern Office impossible to be productive with. Editing charts in Excel is a particular frustration having to dig into a few submenus to do something basic like change the style of a marker. Manipulating data ranges is nowhere as intuitive as it was in Office 2000.

I don’t do any real work with Office anymore. If I need a Doc file I’ll export from Pages, even Numbers is generally better than excel for simple tasks and Keynote is much better than PowerPoint.

These data it’s much faster to fire up Matlab or Python can get actual work done.

I’ve found Numbers to be basically unusable on iPad. May be because some stuff works differently as compared to excel but its features are literally buried inside icon based interface which is a huge bummer. Should give it a go on Mac, may be it’s better there.

It's not really any better -- while I haven't dug in too deeply, the current macOS versions are basically the iPad versions running in a window with a mouse pointer.

Don’t get me wrong, Numbers isn’t great. It just better than Excel for the simple stuff I would want to do in a spreadsheet.

I use google docs and although it’s free it’s actually much quicker to use than modern office (for me at least - maybe because the interface is more similar to 90s office!)

As someone who spends most of his time in a text editor and only needs to use word processing/spreadsheets very occasionally, Office is absolutely torturous. Everything that's not achievable with a single click feels like it requires navigation through at least three modal sub-windows.

It probably doesn't help that I'm mostly Mac-based, considering Microsoft have decided that things like selecting text and drag and drop should work differently to literally every other piece of software I use.

I still prefer 97, runs great in a VM, faster than LibreOffice, save the text with copy and paste into my blog with IE6. I can almost smell the shiny Plymouth Horizon on the parking lot.

The invoice I bill with is from an Office 97 template. Thursday will be it's 25th birthday.

Office 97 was their high point and I really didn’t see the value proposition trying others which seemed like attempts to refactor the GUI every few years. That and no product activation. From a time when owning software meant owning it.

And it looked so clean! https://i.imgur.com/u9U8VLm.png

Totally agree except the MDI (Multiple Document Interface) was a really dumb idea. Having windows inside of windows. Now that I see the double window controls I remember how bad and confusing that was. And so much work moving all these scroll bars trying to reach other scroll bars inside them. Yuck.

Besides for MDI which a lot of MS apps suffered from, it was great.

> the MDI (Multiple Document Interface) was a really dumb idea. Having windows inside of windows.

Funny, to me tabbed browsing has always seemed like a reinvention of the same concept.

Tabbed browsing just has full-window tabs though. Was the ability to resize, move, and stack these windows within windows ever wanted by any significant amount of people, or is tabbed browsing just a better implementation of the same concept (multiple "documents" open within one window)?

except without the "tile" or "cascade" or just drag and drop rearrangement of them

I loved MDI, and was actually frustrated with the somewhat watered down Office 97 version of it.

It's like tabs, but you can also put dialogs side by side.

Well it did have its benefits yes. However it was a total PITA if you wanted to work in 2 documents on 2 different screens. You had to stretch the window across both screens and then position the sub-windows manually. You couldn't just plonk each on a display and maximise.

And scrolling regions within scrolling regions really are awful IMO.

Well, you've got a point about multi-display. Once that came around, it lost its appeal.

Still using office 2000. its simple and fast, never liked the later bells and whistles like the "ribbon". Sadly, windows 10 doesn't get along with it perfectly well.

So many people here saying they miss Office 2000 when it runs perfectly fine on Windows 10.

I can't think of anything in my office usage that wasn't available in 2000. Admittedly I've not used Outlook for a fair few years.

I still pay £30 or so a year for the annual licence when it comes on sale just to be able to open docs natively though!

Real time co-authoring with the cloud save locations is a killer for me as it got rid of a bunch of "<x> final copy (3) FINAL - Jim's edits" crap. I think that was 2016 initially I think but it's gotten improvements since. But for single user "I want to edit a document" there isn't much to add since 2000.

True, that and the "Who has the shift schedule excel open on the server???? Close it please, urgent!!" emails all day :)

* Drawing canvases

* The new fonts (Calibri etc.)

* Proper biliography support (not as good as BibTeX etc. but good enough for many reports)

* Proper math support (not as good as LaTeX but better than the old equation editor and good enough for many reports)

Certainly the pace of change is radically slower than in the old days (like Word 6.0 and Word 95) but enough that it's usually nicer to use recent versions rather than older ones.

Office will use whatever fonts you have installed. Calibri is already dated, it hasn’t aged too well.

When people talk about fonts being "dated", they just mean "overused". Virtually every mainstream font out there is a riff on some design that's been around for a century or more.

Calibri replaced Times New Roman as Word's default font, because TNR had become ubiquitous (and because docs were starting to be read on-screen more than in-print, so switching to a sans-serif default made sense). But TNR is an absolutely brilliant font for its intended use case (i.e. dense body text). Most of the commonly recommended alternatives (e.g. Baskerville and Garamond) pre-date it by decades or centuries, so it's hardly an "age" thing. It's just that readers don't see them as frequently as they do TNR.

Even Calibri came along simply because Helvetica/Arial were "old". But Apple (well-respected for typography) still use Helvetica as the body text default in their office apps. And only the most pretentious of font snobs, who have carefully studied the capital "R" and "G", could tell the difference between a Helvetica and an Arial specimen. I still think that Arial is a much nicer font than Calibri for body text. It just feels "old" because people have seen it on Wikipedia pages a million times.

> And only the most pretentious of font snobs (…) could tell the difference between a Helvetica and an Arial specimen.

Everybody with a passing interest in typefaces can tell Helvetica and Arial apart—that’s hardly a hallmark of pretentiousness. Judging Arial as a Helvetica clone might be pretentious, especially given how Helvetica is itself a clone (of Akzidenzk Grotesk).

> TNR is an absolutely brilliant font for its intended use case (i.e. dense body text).

Being optimised for denseness makes it a bad default choice for Word though… Especially for the page wide one column layouts that 99% of Word documents are. I think it works much better in the narrow newspaper columns for which it was designed, and where space is at a premium.

Times and Times New Roman get used often in scientific publishing, I imagine because the fonts default-looking-ness makes things look undesigned and unfrivolous. Also here it looks off in the single column designs most books use. I have a hard copy of SICP, which is typeset in LaTeX, and it really bums me that it’s set in Times. Especially since LaTeX’s default font Computer Modern works better for readability IMHO.

> Virtually every mainstream font out there is a riff on some design that's been around for a century or more.

For sure! https://i.liketightpants.net/and/no-one-starts-from-scratch-...

No, I meant dated as in “the novelty of it wore off and without that it doesn’t stand on its own two feet.” (If you read my other replies, you'll find that we are probably in complete agreement.)

I probably qualify as a font snob (although hopefully not a pretentious one). Either/both of Arial or Helvetica are better designed than Calibri. Arial is available with some “fixes” as Arial Nova for free on the MS Store. Georgia, used everywhere as it is/was, will never be old or dated in my lifetime (but there’s a Georgia Pro with more weights and some changes to hinting available for free on the MS Store). Tahoma/Verdana [1] has aged beautifully and remains excellent for the web (as evidenced by its use on HN) - it's also permanently associated in my mind with being the MS Encarta body font long before Wikipedia was a thing.

All but Arial were designed by the one and only Matthew Carter.

(Times New Roman was certainly overused and elicits some unpleasant gut reactions thanks to its guilt by association with poorly formatted and improperly typeset Word documents but is nevertheless still a classic - and of course its core origins long predate the web.)

[1]: https://neosmart.net/blog/2017/tahoma-vs-verdana/

> Calibri is already dated, it hasn’t aged too well.

I think it looks great. Maybe I'm dated! It's certainly a lot better than Arial, which proceeded it, and I don't commonly come across something that's so much better that I wished I wasn't using Calibri. Did you have something specific in mind?

The primary serif font, Cambria, is fine but I much prefer Palatino (which was originally released more than 70 years ago so if you feel that fonts "age" then you certainly won't like that one!)

I love Palatino, Garamond, and other timeless fonts. I just don’t think Calibri is timeless at all.

Calibri actually wasn’t preceded by Arial; it was a replacement for Times New Roman, which was the previous default font in Microsoft Word. (They made the switch from Serif to Sans Serif.) Arial - apart from being the default font in Notepad and WordPad - was never really part of the Windows aesthetic. The new Windows font is Segoe UI (which I think has only improved with age) replaced MS Sans Serif, which was an altered version of Tahoma (introduced with Windows 95).

If you use HN on Windows and are into fonts, I did a write up on two iconic fonts that are actually just one: https://neosmart.net/blog/2017/tahoma-vs-verdana/

For my personal ”brand”, I was using Publico Text for a very long time, but now it seems to be everywhere so that’s a bit of a bummer :)

I suppose it depends on how you look at it. It used to be that the two main fonts were Arial and Times New Roman (and Courier New), then they switched to Calibri and Cambria (and Consolas). At the same time, as you say, they switched Word's default from serif to sans serif (because sans serif are better for on-screen reading, and the assumption about how documents would be read had changed). I'm sure we can agree on all those facts. Whether Calibri is a replacement for Arial or Times New Roman is just a matter of what we each mean by the word "replacment" and is not interesting.

I think Calibri looks extremely readable on screen (at least on Windows with ClearType, which is what it was designed for). At the end of the day it's a matter of opinion.

Your article on Tahoma and Verdana was very interesting! To veer a little further off topic: I was under the impression that those fonts, or at least Verdana, was primary designed for great readibility for very short text labels in dialogue boxes, so it does make me wince when I see them used for long documents, especially printed ones.

Thanks, and yes, we’re in agreement. Have a look at Sitka [1], it’s flown completely under the radar. It’s specifically designed for on-screen readability and especially in longer texts with some studies done to boost comprehension (some tiny amount, I’m sure) as compared to Calibri and others. We’re using that for our school’s memos and letters to students and parents. I personally find it a nicer in-box alternative to Calibri, which just looks off to me.

[1]: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/typography/font-list/sitka

I still like Calibri too. :)

Overall: saving history, collaboration editing, ribbon (I like it), HiDPI support, better shape handling

Excel: multiple conditional formatting, over 65536x256, sparksline, new functions like COUNTIFS,ENCODEURL

some cute things have been added

- pre emptive auto fill based on context

- sparklines (tiny graph in a cell)

- cute conditional formatting UI

- some web data fetching can be of use if your sheet is dealing with external / world data

PowerPoint's automatic subtitles is the only new thing that actually really impressed me.

Every comment here is about peculiarities of Office versions, but the article gave me false nostalgia for working at a place like Microsoft in the late 90s / early 00s. Evil Empire-ness (are_we_the_baddies.gif) aside, I mean.

For basic document editing is as good now as ever. And it eats way less resources than the more modern conterparts.

I fondly remember Office 2000 as the last version that didn't require product activation.

I’d be quite content to work with 2000 or 97 indefinitely.

I'm actually still using office 2000 at work. All my documents and sheets are generated with it (and I use it a lot to generate various bureocratic stuff).

My only problem is the fact that it has difficulties opening docx and xlsx and it can't save them at all, so sometimes I may have problems exchanging docs with colleagues. But that's a small price to pay for its stability, speed and how much light weight it is! Also, it has no real copy protection! If you've got a serial you can install it to all your machines!

Its wonderful to be able to double click on a document and have it essentially instantly open

The standard Explorer is already nothing to write home about. But Teams and SharePoint and OneDrive and a dumbed down online version of the Office Suit really kick my ass every day. Worst possible experience. Slow, cumbersome, they fuck around with my files, stripped of features but still bloated. As if they didn't even try to offer something good. It is a lost opportunity. They totally lost their way. Part of my job now is to avoid that misery as much as possible.

I still miss the "Binder" application in Office 2000...

Word 97 was the last Microsoft product I purchased.

Use, support, and contribute to LibreOffice. It might not be fast as Office 2000, but surely still includes its soul.

I am glad the author's habit of weirdly abbreviating the names of people in the text, regardless of whether the reader is likely to know them, is not widespread. BradCh, MikeMap, ScottRa, etc.

At least Dave Cutler gets to have a real name in this story.

The reason for the weird abbreviations is that these are internal email/Exchange aliases. You quickly get into the habit of using those when you have to deal with email threads or meetings in which there are, say, three Brads - if not using aliases, if the conversation later has to be followed up on, it can be tricky to figure out who you're supposed to contact based on names alone.

That's microsoft's 90 meme. People used to mention each other by their email addresses, so bill gates was mentioned as billG. Typical billG general weirdness.

I'm half way through the article and I have no idea what the guy is even talking about. Why did he write that? It's just rambling on and on, without any focus.

Office 2000 was much better software than anything that came afterward. Even Works '98 was far superior.

Frankly though, allowing office workers to putter around with fonts, spacing, and the like is a waste of their time. Plain text should be enforced in inter-office communications and anything which needs to be sent out should also be composed as plain text and formatted with TeX into a unified corporate style.

In official Microsoft Teams training, you will learn how to include funny gifs in your messages and change background colors to make messages ‘stand out’. Apparently we are teenagers talking with our bffs and not a business.

Anyone remember the Access 2003 conversion toolkit? The conversion from Access 97 to Access 2000 was originally designed for developers, not conversions of large number of databases by end users.

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