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).
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.
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.)
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.
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.
Isn't this what Azure Information Protection is supposed to be?
People still do that even with Teams and SharePoint.
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 ;)
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Office was probably feature complete in its second or third iteration. The only substantive changes 99% of users notice are in interface overhauls.
I feel like that's what Google does with chromebooks and their editor suite
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :)
With how often USB drives with PII get lost, this is probably a good idea. I'd prefer Dropbox over OneDrive, though.
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.
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.
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
Doesn't look like a showstopper, at least for the specific toolbar icons that Netscape had.
Ps my German is basic so perhaps I'm wrong
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).
> 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.
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.
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)?
Blame the "designers" who thought infinite scrolling was a good idea. Combine that with a disappearing scrollbar and it's a usability nightmare.
reminds me of this:
Only denvercoder9 is myself!
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 am yet to see a single instance when a troubleshooting wizard was not a complete waste of time.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Their way is: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 recommend this setup to everyone. Fast, smooth, no ads, and works well.
Office 365 with the plugins now required at work / one drive etc - slow.
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 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.
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.
Besides for MDI which a lot of MS apps suffered from, it was great.
Funny, to me tabbed browsing has always seemed like a reinvention of the same concept.
It's like tabs, but you can also put dialogs side by side.
And scrolling regions within scrolling regions really are awful IMO.
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!
* 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.
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.
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-...
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  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.)
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!)
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 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.
Excel: multiple conditional formatting, over 65536x256, sparksline, new functions like COUNTIFS,ENCODEURL
- 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
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!
At least Dave Cutler gets to have a real name in this story.
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.