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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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There Are No Words…

I am so tired of being disgusted by the latest user interface design of Microsoft’s ubiquitous word processor, Word 2007, that I must now hold forth on its incredibly poor setup. Although we could begin anywhere, I think it is appropriate that I first bring up the fact that there is no ‘About’ option anywhere on the viewable menu. This option, located on the ‘Help’ menu of all older Microsoft Windows applications, tells you the version number and specific information for your build of the program. Instead, just to find the official name of this product, I had to look up how to do it in Help. By the way, there is no visible Help option either. If I did not already know that the key ‘F1’ brought up Help, I would have been totally out of luck. As it was, I was directed to a ‘Word Options’ page, where I had to select ‘Resources’, then pick my program, and finally to choose the ‘About’ option button. All of which could have been executed with one click on the old menu system.
What is obvious to every user familiar with pre-2007 versions of Word is that none of the functionality of the 2007 version is intuitive, logical, or even basically related to the previous decade plus of software versions. There is no edit menu, and without it no undo button, copy, paste, etc. Everything is in a new place. The program defaults to opening in some weird layout, of which default you cannot change. In order to view the document in normal, word processor mode, you have to select the ‘View’ tab (no more menus, thanks Microsoft!) and then click the ‘Draft’ button. Perhaps this would not be so difficult if there were not about 25 options on the ‘View’ tab, all spread out in small type at the top of the screen. All of which also cuts down on the actual room on the screen for the document. It would be much more efficient to maximize the amount of viewable document, and minimize the amount of options that are always visible at the top of the screen, taking up visible room.
The fundamental issue here is that Microsoft took a product that was used by almost every student and office worker, and then made it unusable by said previous users. All previous Windows programs were based on the ‘File ‘- Edit ‘- View ‘- Help’ menu structure, which people became familiar with over almost two decades of computing, all the way from the old Windows 3.1 to Windows ME to Windows XP. This overwhelming bungle of their most used product is just another piece of evidence in the case for Microsoft’s being run by people of sub-par intelligence. I was first alerted to Microsoft’s poor management when they began running their terrible commercials in response to Apple’s clever ‘I’m a pc’ ad campaign. These commercials were so bad that I immediately realized that whoever was now in charge of Microsoft (cough, CEO Steve Ballmer) was currently running the company into the ground. Along with the mangling of Word 2007, and the fact that Microsoft has come out with no new decent products in years, it is now obvious that Microsoft, once a brilliant breakthrough company depending upon the vision of Bill Gates, is now a badly run corporation with no original or creative thinking or products. My recommendation is sell.

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