Common misconceptions from a former misconceiver

My name is Joe LeBlanc, I work on the Excel test team in Redmond. I've previously worked for both Apple and RealNetworks. Glad to be able to blog and see so many Mac users reading about what we're doing! I started at Microsoft in January of this year. Like most people reading this blog, I was an outsider before then. I had my own ideas about how things must happen around the MacBU, what kind of people worked there, their plans, etc. Many of my misconceptions were torn down within the first few weeks.

The MacBU is just one product cycle away from being disbanded, laid off, or re-purposed.You guys must be nervous about your jobs, huh?

This is a reasonable question. I asked the same thing during my interviews. How sure was everyone about their job security? Did you worry every time a product shipped that it would be the last time you sat in front of a Mac? Everyone I’ve talked to, including some people that have been with Microsoft for over 15 years and working in the MacBU since its inception had absolutely no fear of their job going away.

The MacBU is just Microsoft’s way of avoiding some kind of legal problems or appeasing Apple.
I’d heard this explanation before from plenty of Mac users. I thought that maybe the folks working on Mac Office were just some kind of sacrificial lamb offered up by management to appease the Legal Gods. The reality is that the MacBU a very successful part of Microsoft when taken on our own. I don’t know all of the intricacies of the Microsoft/Apple relationship, but I get no feeling from my day-to-day work that they are dictating our direction with our products or vice-versa.

The MacBU just ports WinOffice code all day, they don’t actually do anything original themselves.

I was also guilty of this thinking before I started. After being here for a short time it’s become obvious to me that this couldn’t be further from the truth. In my mind, the MacBU exists specifically to avoid the problems that having a PC-focused development group write Mac software causes. We have a great group of program managers who come up with new features specifically for the Mac product. While a lot of our time is spent working with the WinOffice group in order to maintain cross-platform compatibility, we don’t just wait for them to spec something and then implement It ourselves. If anything, the presence of WinOffice forces us to think of new and interesting features to set ourselves apart. We can’t rest on our laurels and expect people to buy our product when they have increasingly practical ways of using WinOffice on their Apple hardware through dual-booting, emulation/virtualization, etc.

By dropping VPC, IE and WMP, it’s obvious the MacBU is shrinking. Further proof that they’re going away!

Any decisions regarding IE pre-date me by a few years, so I can’t really talk authoritatively about that. Windows Media Player was developed outside of our team, and any changes in that product don’t really reflect our growth. We are growing (There are ten job openings on right now). Anyone who was working on VPC is still working in the MacBU on other projects (trust me, we’re busy!) I would personally love to see us branch out to other products, whether it be existing solutions (we all hear the usual suspects: Visio, Access, etc.) or something completely new.  I think we have one of the strongest, most efficient development organizations in the company, I have no doubt that we have the expertise to take on a new challenge if/when the product planning folks decide to.

I might sound like a broken record here, but the MacBU really honestly is a group of dedicated, brilliant Mac users who are focused on making quality software for the platform. If you had talked to me 9 months ago before I started, I would have been as skeptical as many of you probably are. Hopefully hearing it from someone who was on the outside recently will give that message a little more weight.

Comments (35)

  1. likesMSmacoffice says:

    Great post. I’ve always thought that the Mac version of Office was far better than the Win version. There are so many subtle touches that set it apart…better transistions in PowerPoint, easier searching and filtering of messages in Entourage, and of course, the tool palettes. It definitely gets better with each iteration and I simply can’t wait for the Universal version. Hopefully, some of the aforementioned features you came up with at MacBU will eventually make it into the Win version.

  2. Stefan Constantinescu says:

    I find it funny that when I was growing up Mac’s used to be THE platform for education. Yet right now if I were to take you to my 400 seat organic chemistry lecture hall, we all have a Windows XP laptop running One Note.

    Want to bring something over to the Mac OS? One freaking Note!

    Sadly that still won’t convince me to get a Mac since I’m going to need a tablet PC very very soon. It’s annoying having to carry around drawing paper and a laptop. As a senior getting my BS in Biology I’m drawing a hell of a lot of diagrams.

    Anyway I don’t want to turn this into a rant. Just try and get OneNote out for the Mac!

  3. Gary Carter says:

    VISIO!  Please!  I installed a copy of Windows on my MacBook, taking up precious hard disk space, just to put a copy of Visio on it.  I love my Mac.  But I have to have Visio in my line of work.  Cross functional diagrams for Sarbanes-Oxley and internal audit process flows just can’t be easily duplicated (or shared) with the flowchart programs available on the Mac.  Office is far superior on the Mac.  I bet Visio can be, too!

  4. Scott Rose says:

    If this is really the case, then why haven’t you guys fixed any of the 50 bugs we have reported in both Entourage and Microsoft Word over the last 3 years?  These bugs still persist, and we have reported them multiple times!

    If this is really the case, then why does the Entourage STILL not communicate with tasks and to-do items on an Exchange Server?

    If this is really the case, why does Microsoft not make ANY program for the Mac except for Microsoft Office?

    I bet that when this 5 year agreement is over, we will see the end of MacBU.

    In the meantime, how about fixing bugs before adding new features?

  5. Jim Landers says:

    Time will tell, Joe, whether an Intel version of Office for Mac makes you a "vital organization" or just an an enclave in a Windows world formed to sell Office.  There is no successor to I.E. 5.0, no Microsoft software other than Office I can use on a Mac. I’d be interested in Trips and Streets; and I.E. compatible browser for I.E. sites, etc.  So…?  Help me out here, Joe.

  6. stefanschobes says:

    Hi folks

    I really like this blog, it’s a very good idea, I guess.

    Perhaps you are right, perhaps all of this thaughts about the MacBU are false, are misconceptions.

    But you know where they come from: Office started (well, at least a bit) on the Mac, nowadays the PC version is so far ahead:

    On the mac, we got four apps (Entourage, Excel, PowerPoint and Word, of course), it used to be more (VPC, Frontpage,…)

    On PC there are TWELVE Apps:

    Access, Excel, FrontPage, InfoPath, Live Meeting, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Project, Publisher, Visio, Word (according to, add VPC for PC, which is free, additionally)

    Few think, that Microsoft is going to abandon the MacBU, but a lot of Mac Users have the feeling, that Microsoft has abandoned the Mac Platform itself already, while maintaining a small .

    I hope, I’m wrong, but it still hurts a bit….and it must hurt you.

  7. Perry Clease says:

    To Joe leblanc. Seeing as you are on the Excel team.

    On the next version of Excel can you give us a way to EASILY enter an email address or URL and NOT make it a link. Sometimes we just want to enter text into a cell and not skip off to web site when we try to edit it. Maybe having entering email or URLs be preference that could be changed from link to not a link. This little quirk is very frustrating.

    One more thing. Click on a cell or range of cells, and lock/protect them with a single menu item.

    Have a great day

  8. b schmidt says:

    re: Posters requiring Visio right now, you owe it to yourself to check out OmniGraffle Pro — It reads and writes .vdx (Visio XML) files. Compatibility is excellent — I’ve had MS Visio users, upon receiving a .vdx file from me, congratulate me on my Visio skills, unaware that they’ve just opened an OmniGraffle file. Only downside is you still need a PC/Visio to re-save .vsd files, as .vdx files, unless  you can convince your PC/Visio colleagues to save as .vdx format from within Visio.

  9. Alex H says:

    This is a nice post but…

    It gives me no hope on Messenger:Mac. I mean words cannot describe how far this app is behind. It needs bringing upto speed, where is webcam suppport, winks, nudges, backgrounds?

    As an MSN client, to be honest, its a joke, and its disgusting that unofficial solutions put it to shame.

    But I do heart the rest (well remaining) of the MacBU products.

  10. Scott – The previous formal commitment that we had with Apple expired in 2002.  After that commitment expired, we released Office:Mac 2004, several updates to that, a couple of versions of Messenger:Mac, and Remote Desktop Connection, and all of those were done without the umbrella of a formal commitment.  From my perspective, the formal commitment is only there to help alleviate our user’s concerns about our future.  We’re still delivering our software, with or without a formal commitment.

  11. foobarbaz says:

    @Perry Clease:

    * After entering URL or email hit undo one time, or

    * Prepend URL or email with a single quote, or

    * Disable "replace internet and network paths with hyperlinks" in autocorrect options

    In Windows Excel all three options work, dunno about Mac version

  12. Scott Rose says:

    I couldn’t agree more with the person above about the state of affairs of MSN Messenger on the Mac.  This program is a disaster on the Mac; it is lightyears behind its PC counterpart.  

    If the MacBU is really the world’s 2nd largest Mac developer, how come we’re truly not seeing anything positive coming out of the MacBU?

    I don’t know one person who uses the new Project Center in Entourage 2004, and that’s the ONLY new feature that we’ve seen in that product in many years.

  13. John K says:

    I think Office is great, and so are you guys by association. But there is one thing that is just inexplicably bad….MSN MESSENGER (err, Microsoft Messenger…err, Windows Live Messenger?)

    I mean I imagine this has to be something you use all day to communicate with the rest of your colleagues at Microsoft. It’s not that it’s buggy or anything…it’s just that if the feature set were any more primitive it would be Grecco-Roman Messenger.

    I realize that there is next to zero incentive to develop a program that is given away for free, and to supplement a competitor’s OS no less…but you know, I’d pay money for a Microsoft messenger that was on par with its free Win32 counterpart.

  14. Narcogen says:


    Project Center is a useful productivity tool. I use it every day.

    MSN Messenger is a chat program. The Mac already has far superior alternatives for nearly everything it does, and I don’t even have it installed on my machine.

    Seems to me the MacBU has its priorities aligned properly– at least from the perspective of some users.

  15. Shahram says:

    Quote: <i>I don’t know one person who uses the new Project Center in Entourage 2004, and that’s the ONLY new feature that we’ve seen in that product in many years.</i>

    I’m a student and I use the Project Centre quite frequently. It’s a pretty amazing tool to help with centralizing all project related files. Just because you don’t know anyone who uses it, doesn’t mean its worthless!

    You should read Eric Schweib’s post on the Mac MSN problem. He does have some good points, I can’t wait for audio/video on the mac with winks/nudges/personal messages either but i’m trying to be patient :), hopefully the new MSN 6 will have something to talk about.

    I hope you guys can increase the support for MS technologies with your products. Flip4mac is decent but it still doesn’t cut it. My university uses Windows media for their webcasts and flip4mac still can’t properly play the .asx file. Being locked out of Windows Media DRM is not a good thing either.



  16. Perry Clease says:

    "@Perry Clease:

    * After entering URL or email hit undo one time, or

    * Prepend URL or email with a single quote, or

    * Disable "replace internet and network paths with hyperlinks" in autocorrect options

    In Windows Excel all three options work, dunno about Mac version"

    Thanks. I still would like to see preference toggle for it. Kind of moot, because I have switched over to FileMaker for any kind of data base that I previously did in Excel. If I want to email or visit a URL I can always copy and paste it into an address field of Mail or Safari

  17. opensourcefan says:

    Hey good luck with this blog.

    IMHO, the MacBU people are the only Microsoft employees I can respect. You’re the ones who intrepidly go into the lion’s den for the good of the community. For the most part it’s better to be using Office on a Mac then office on a PC (and not just because of the hardware) because MacBU people understand what good software is about and do what you can despite your evil masters.

    Mac IE was worlds ahead of its pathetic PC cousin because MacBU developers actually built it to the W3C standards instead of putting out junkware with consequences (quirksmode) that still aflicts the internet all these years later.

    Maybe you will get customer feedback from this blog that will help you keep fighting the good fight.

    Here’s some.

    Office is OK, but if OpenOffice had a full featured alternative to Excel I’d delete Office in a nano-second. Why? Office is way overpriced!!! Word is buggy. PowerPoint is buggy. I’d never use Entourage if you paid me. Excel is good – but I second that request to turn off the darn hyperlinks!

    Microsoft’s disdain for Mac users by discontinuing Windows Media Player (not that I’d put it on my Mac), failure to keep Messenger up to date (I use Adium or Fire for IM’ing), and the derth of downloads for Office for Mac (unless you want to waste time manually converting the peecee versions) can’t surpass my disdain for Microsoft’s way of doing business. Hint: greedy monopolies are not good.

    Visio is easily replaced by OmniGraphle and the people there give outstanding customer service. Messenger? Yuck! Project? nightmare program! Mac IE was good in its day, but Safari, Firefox, and Opera are far superior and much more secure.

    Unless it’s something I need to share with peecee users, there’s not much I can’t get from freeware or vendors who care about Mac users and charge reasonable prices.

  18. Dr.T says:

    "(…) the MacBU really honestly is a group of dedicated, brilliant Mac users who are focused on making quality software for the platform." Quality software for the platform? I saw a lot of pictures of your environment, and i alsways ask myself, how do they test their software. In single user mode, it works just like the suite for Windows. It crashes sometimes, bothering me with other litte bugs (like beeing forced tu used the syllable division from version 10.0.0 and stuff). But using Office on an network environment (using OD with home directories on a server) is something i’m sure about you did not test ever. If you would have tested it, you would have seen, thats a daily pain in the a** working with it. Did you know, that while opening a Word-Document the Word Application ask the Server for several of hundreds of times for the file attributes? Gues what this does within an network environment, or a sharepoint that’s connetced throug a dail in connection…

  19. JulesLt says:

    I know this is commenting on comments but does anyone perhaps think that the reason MS discountinued WMP for Mac is because Mac users generally weren’t putting it on their Macs and actually just wanted the ability to play WMA/WMV files from within Quicktime based apps?? i.e. Flip4Mac. Now Flip4Mac could be improved in terms of codec support.

    IE – ditto. Mac users bitched about it, then complained when it was canned.

    Note the common thread : Unlike Office, these are FREE apps that existed to encourage companies to use MS standards on the grounds that MS supported cross-platform solutions. Does anyone really expect MS to maintain a line of free software than no one wants to install, and replaces with a free alternative at the first chance?

    Office, on the other hand, has customers, many of whom are actually happy with the software.  

    OneNote : This would be a difficult one. As part of MS Office it would be nice to have, and of course Mac Word offers the Notepad mode already, but there are a HUGE number of similar apps to OneNote on the Mac – some of which have their origins on the Next system. Personally I would prefer an open/compatible file format from the OneNote team, and be able to use one of my existing Note taking apps, than being locked into a ‘use the tool to use the file format’ thing.

    PS : I would second all the recommendations for OmniGraffle. I have both MS Office and the Omni Productivity bundle installed on my Mac.

  20. Anonymous IT head says:

    "Everyone I’ve talked to, including some people that have been with Microsoft for over 15 years and working in the MacBU since its inception had absolutely no fear of their job going away."

    The key word is over 15 years.  Those folks who started long ago can speak confidently because they have years under their belt and may think that this long history can last another 15 years.  In that time though, project after project has been wittled away to the point where the sole existence of the group relies on a single revenue generating product.  I can also bet that much of the decision making to actually kill off the product was left in the hands of some pin headed product marketing manager who was convinced that the time and resources needed to pursue the project wasn’t worth it.  Take for example the waffling on the Intel version of Virtual PC.  I’ve no doubt there wasn’t great support at higher levels because of corporate politics but at the same time, the overall decision seemed to be left to the Mac BU to decide.  If a small company like Parallels can re-engineer their existing Linux VMM code to run under Mac OS X along with writing a Mac GUI, Microsoft will all of its resources and the fact that you folks also had existing VMM code running with Virtual PC 2004 (for Windows) could have also been ported to the Mac.  Yes, it would have been an undertaking but its not like you folks had to port the dynamic recompiling PPC to X86 ISA code from the PPC version and the current VPC Mac UI could have been reused for the frontend stuff.  Remember, this was at a time when there was nothing viable for the Intel Mac’s and Microsoft could have owned the Mac virtualization market from the start.  If that doesn’t have "pin headed marketing managers" written all over it, I don’t know what does.

    And who would even be naive enough to say anything otherwise that the Mac BU is a great and stable place to work at?  I don’t doubt that those working are indeed dedicated Mac users because that just makes sense (why would someone who hates the Mac end up working on Mac software?).  It would also be naive to think Microsoft would make it a miserable place to work either considering it is a drop in the bucket for them to keep as much of their employees happy.  Remember, as far as Microsoft is concerned, better to keep them smart folks employed at Microsoft than have them work for the competition.  Contrast this to the near draconian environment that many Apple employees have to put up with (read this former 20 year employees’ blog to gain an insight of the kind of pinhead organization that persists at Apple -> and you’ll understand why Microsoft is probably leaps order better (as good as it can get in a corporation its size) when it comes to HR.  I don’t doubt there are internal politics at Microsoft but it probably doesn’t come anywhere close to the stupidity that exists internally within Apple even today.

    Now I don’t believe that Microsoft is allowing the Mac BU and Mac Office to exist as a way to show proof they aren’t using their position as a monopoly to deny a critical business application such as Office for the Mac especially when you consider how far back Word and Excel were available on the Mac.  To kill it at a higher level would definitely look too suspect.  Thus the way I see it is that it is a legacy baggage item which so long as the unit is able to sustain itself, will be allowed to live.  By the same token though, roadblocks to compatibility can be thrown up along the way which will further depreciate the compatibility feature set between the Windows and Mac versions.  Key decisions on whether or not to throw precious limited resources (by Mac BU standards) will likely be left up to Mac BU managers to decide on such that your unit is fully accountable for those decisions (both good and bad; yet still a great way to not have the finger pointed at some VP/exec).  My personal opinion is that not throwing resources at VBScripting for the next version of Mac Office was a pretty bad decision which will come back to bite the Mac BU in the rear in the future especially if it means excluding the Mac version from various corporate, government, and education environments due to compatiblity issues.  That would represent a significant blow to lucrative volume licensing contracts.

    The objective as is true of any revenue generating unit within an organization is to meet the companies overall sales numbers.  Since the Mac BU’s only sole revenue generating product is Mac Office, it has to be a compelling product that meets the needs of many customers.  The next version will no doubt sell because the Intel native part will be the key seller.  The deal breaker for some though is going to be the loss of any form of scripting compatibility and I beleive that this issue is going to be more important for corporate, government, and educational licensees than the average home user.  Some shops have worked around the Mac’s already crippled version by dumbing down their scripting on the Windows side but when you look at it from the customers perspective, there is no reason they should be doing this.  If Microsoft was serious about this, they would take a broader look at it by including both Windows and Mac teams to figure out a way to create software modules for critical areas that require compatibility that is much more agnostic at lower levels.  The reality though is Microsoft doesn’t really care about feature parity for important Windows ones on the Mac and the Mac BU has virtually no power to do anything about it.

    As a business customer, continually having to deal with the growing feature gaps between the Windows and Mac versions is going to eventually cause those of us responsible for making licensing and purchasing recommendations to decide if it is worth the headaches.  At this juncture, we’re one shop who is preliminarily looking to phase out Mac Office support (due to loss of VBScripting) and pushing those staff who do have Mac’s (PPC and Intel) to continue using Office 2004.  Intel based Mac users will have the option to run Office for Windows via virtualization (Parallels or VMWare) or via Codeweavers CrossOver Mac if it evaluates well and meets certain criteria.  True, none of this is like having a native Mac version (yes, I know this is one of the main reasons why the Mac BU was born since MS learned a hard lesson back with Office 4.2 and Word 6 that Mac users want apps that work like a Mac app).  The thing that makes this a little different is people are knowingly using the Windows version and not some made over Mac port and the reason some shops are going to end up taking this route is that the balance of pushing resources to include more Mac features (that honest few may use or find important) are being given higher preference in keeping with the initial mission of the Mac BU as opposed to considering the long term effectives of compatibility reduction when compared with what the Windows version offers.  If your product no longer meets our requirements, we certainly aren’t going to buy it.  In that respect, I’m one of those who don’t see much longetivity in the Mac BU once the next version of Mac Office is released.

  21. Ross says:

    I’d love to see a more feature-complete version of Microsoft Live Messenger on the mac, with iSight support and all the other cool features that Windows users have (Yahoo integration)

    Who in the MacBU is responsible for making the decision to catch up? Do they have a blog? Is there something we can do as end-users to let him/her know that we want this?

    There are alternatives, but I dislike having to switch tools to do video, back again to jut IM, switch to another to do voice ..

  22. John Lockwood says:

    Messenger (for Mac) is a sad pathetic joke of a program. While version 6 has now been announced, Microsoft have NOT mentioned it will add Video and Voice capabilities. Since such features are THE NUMBER ONE request by tens of thousands of users you would think Microsoft would be shouting from the roof tops if it was going to include it, therefore it will not [please prove me wrong].

    Such wilful ignoring of vast numbers of users merely shows Microsoft in an ever worse light, and at best utterly incompetent. Currently Microsoft appear to be devoting more effort to inventing yet more new names for their Messenger application than actually updating it – MSN Messenger / Microsoft Messenger / Windows Messenger / Windows Live Messenger / [Insert this weeks new name here].

    WMP for Mac before it was killed off did have some [miniscule] support for Windows DRM on the Mac, Flip4Mac has none and they are putting the blame on Microsoft (see ). If Microsoft do not provide a way to let Mac users access Windows DRM, then their chances of Zune being a success are severely reduced.

    The only entirely new Mac software product from Microsoft in practically living memory is the Microsoft RDC client for Mac, everything else has either been merely upgrades or been discontinued.

    Even Microsoft’s upgrades have been poor value. As discussed above Messenger is still a text only antique, and Office for Mac still does not support right to left languages (e.g. Arabic and Hebrew), this is despite the fact that Mac OS X itself does and has for years and years.

    Considering Microsoft STILL continues to boast that they are the biggest Mac development team outside Apple itself, this pathetically small output from the Mac BU is staggering.

    I am hoping that Microsoft being forced to significantly rewrite Office in order to move it to XCode will achieve a) at long last the removal of some truly ancient bugs, b) dramatically improved stability when dealing with complex Word files originated on a PC, c) dramatically improved stability when handling imported graphics in PowerPoint, d) support [at last] for right to left languages, e) dramatically improved performance (there have been times in the past that PowerPC Macs have been MUCH faster than the PCs of the day, and yet Excel still performed like a dog on the Mac, conspiracy theorists even said at the time that Microsoft was deliberately inserting delay loops in to the code as it was so bad, I am slightly more charitable and merely believe the quality of the code was and is awful beyond belief). These hoped for improvements (hey someone has to be an optimist) might then be enough to compensate for the loss of VBA support, otherwise not only will NeoOffice 2.0 soon be released but there will also be an official native OpenOffice soon (not requiring X-Windows). Both of these will be FREE, its time for Microsoft to put up or shut up.

  23. Joe says:

    How about Access? That’s the one thing that’s keepin us from wider adoption of Macs.

  24. 95% Mac 5% Win says:

    Things sure have changed since the dark days of Office v4.21 and the last 2 versions of Office Mac have been outstanding. With regard to WMP, I respect MS’s decision to leave the solution to those who have a better handle on it (Flip4Mac), so seeing some of these products fall by the wayside isn’t all doom and gloom.

  25. Zach says:

    Dear Joe LeBlanc, Mac OS X needs a serious alternative to Quicken. Quicken for Mac is Terrible. Is there any chance you guys will be able to write Microsoft Money for OS X? I would love to see that happen! I’d be your first customer! Please do whatever you can to make this happen! Thanks, Zach

  26. I agree that the Messenger:Mac program is better than it was before, but still is light years behind the Windows version of Live Messenger.  Mac users *do* want and deserve the same features – webcam support, audio chat, etc. etc. (all the major features of the Windows client).  Yahoo at least now has good webcam support for Macs but Microsoft once again is behind the pack in this area.  Catch up or be replaced. 🙂  You guys also need to start releasing universal binaries of your apps for Mac OS X.

  27. Zach says:

    So many Mac apps are lightyears behind their Windows counterparts. It’s really starting to bug me. Take Quicken for example. One again we see that the Windows version is lightyears ahead of the Mac version. I’m gonna get a new Intel Mac just so I can run Windows for all these things. I can’t handle it anymore. It’s sad because I love a lot of things about OS X. I just can’t handle it’s deficiencies anymore!

  28. Eric says:

    What you say makes sense. I was thinking now that VPC is finished, that maybe, just maybe we’d get better Entourage/Exchange compatiblity. There should not be ONE SINGLE THING done at the MacBU until Entourage works completely and correctly.

    And is MUCH easier to set up. At least where I work, the proxy server messes with Entourage until we put all the bypass stuff in the network settings we need.

    Until recently, I was the only Entourage user in my department. Now we’re going all Mac in the next couple of years. And the people who have started using Entourage like it to a certain degree. But, where is the Out of office assisstant? We have to use Outlook Web Access to set it! And we can’t use Safari to do it!

    All in all, if you really want Office to help push Macs into the workplace, more than any other feature, bug fix or consideration of any kind, you MUST give us COMPLETE Exchange compatibility. And make it easy to set up! (i.e. auto detect settings accurately).

  29. Free-fire says:

    Your perceptions of fit and camaraderie notwithstanding, you should bear no illusions about the beast for which you work. The nanosecond after deciding not to continue Office, Microsoft will divest itself of the Mac BU’s personnel, shake your electronic dust from its boots, and blunder onto its next adventure in mediocrity.

    I remember Connectix’ VPC well. It was buggy, but got the job done. It had also improved over time, and I’m confident would have continued to do so. Most important, it was unmistakably a Mac program. I also recall clearly how the app deteriorated after Microsoft assimilated it. After the last version, discontinuing it was a mercy-killing.

    Despite being its primary source of innovation, Microsoft relegated Apple to third-class status in the ’80s with respect to its development efforts. It has endeavored to keep it there ever since with buggy, bloated, cryptic, hang-prone, or deliberately hobbled software. There was never a worse Mac browser than Explorer – and considering how truly bad some of the competition has been, that’s saying something.

    The long-standing bugs and shortcomings already mentioned on this thread drove me from Office long ago. No software in my experience so consistently screwed things up as did Office, and I was forever having to clean up after it. Its tendrils were insinuated all over the place, and getting rid of them was no mean task. The one certainty was that you’d have to do it all over again – soon – so you learned how to do it as efficiently as possible. Despite my machine having become a Microsoft-free-zone some years back, my academic spouse still uses 2004. When things go wrong, which they do with irritating regularity, I still get to experience the aftermath vicariously. And every time I have to eradicate Office’s clumsy footprints, its foul taste is rekindled in my memory.

    So, while you focus on the good stuff about being a Microsoft employee, don’t lose sight of its role in the bigger picture. If there actually were a Dark Side, Microsoft would be right at home there, and don’t let any amount of Kool-Aid make that blurry.

  30. David Stephens says:

    I undertand that MacBU is a "business" unit of MS, but it seems that you guys take the "business" part seriously.

    Does everything at MacBU have to be a business app?  It would really be great to see you guys work on some entertainment titles.

  31. Edward says:

    From what you’re saying it’s good to know that  the MacBU is thriving… because if MS abandoned so many apps and kept so many bugs and inconsistencies in Windows versions as they’ve done on Mac versions, many people would question:

    "WTF is happening?

    Are you closing the doors?!"

  32. Chris says:

    Office products don’t talk to the wider world? Where is info path, good XML for all of the products, ODBC connectivity, will the 2007 version finally catch up with the windows version for all of these important protocols or should we look to Open Office to supply these features?

    I have been using Office/ Excel / Word since version 1.0a and bit by bit the product is losing functionality it is time it caught up and now!!

  33. Mike Sanlon says:

    Guys… All kidding aside. You need IE7 for the mac, Windows Media Player for the Mac and VPC for the mac back again.

    I’m one of those cross-platform people, and honestly – it drives me insane when I go to say… MSNBC Videos and am told that I need IE6 and WM9.

    I love my PC and my Mac – and dropping these products just marginalises me. I makes you guys look bad.

    Sure I have Safari, I have Quicktime with the suggested WM codecs, and I can get Parallels when the time comes for me to abandon my G5 and my copy of Virtual PC, but it’s not the same experience.

    I’m a big Outlook Web Access user – and when I compare what it looks like in Firefox and Safari to IE6/7- I just want to scream.

    C’on! Find the genius who decided that things should be dropped – and fire his a**.

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