Periodically I write about technology that increases or decreases my personal productivity. Over the last month I have documented how the Microsoft Office suite and Windows 7 detracts from my personal productivity. 

I regularly use Microsoft Office 2010 products: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. For reasons I won’t bore you with, I still use Outlook 2003. For about the last month, I have been documenting what I consider Office bugs and “deficits”. By deficit I mean a confusing or less-than-than-helpful feature design. I acknowledge that some bugs may be deficits and vice versa.

As I encountered problems, I Tweeted them in real-time. Each Tweet starts “Microsoft Bug Watch” or “Microsoft Deficit Watch.” I reproduce these Tweets below (minus “Microsoft” and “Watch” so the Tweets are more readable). Click here to view my Tweets or follow me.

In my view, the number of problems I encountered is unacceptable. The Office products are 10 to 20 years old; Windows 7 is supposed to be a mature operating system. How can it be that in a month of use, I find so many issues. Even if some of these are “user error” or “training” issues, so what? I’m a pretty experienced and techie user. If I encounter these, what does that mean for those who are less techie?

The conclusion I draw is that companies with too large a market share just do not care enough to create truly polished products. And we all pay a steep price for this.

I don’t see a solution. Some readers will think, switch to Mac. No thanks. I got an iPhone last September and found Apple’s MobileMe is worse than most Micrsoft products and iTunes is at least as confusing as mediocre MS products. Others will think, switch to the cloud. No thanks. I have tried cloud applications but they are not yet feature-rich enough to support my requirements.

So all I can do is write this post and hope that someday we will have more polished software.

My Month of Microsoft Bugs and Deficits, Reported at Twitter
[Note that Tweets are limited to 140 characters so necessarily these are not detailed.]

  • Bug : Print selected text in OneNote prints more than just the selection. (Do we think MS cares about this or other bugs?)   15 Dec  2010
  • Bug : Win 7 shut down by itself while suspended; on re-start, 1/2 of apps re-opened. Seems related to Win update.   16 Dec  2010
  • Bug : an Outlook 2003 e-mail initiated by a file send (from File Explorer) does not save to drafts folder. Just lost work   16 Dec  2010
  • RT @ronfriedmann Microsoft Bug Watch: correction: Outlook 2003 e-mail initiated by a file send saves to Inbox instead of Drafts. Go figure   16 Dec  2010
  • Bug : Word 2010 – To ‘Customize Quick Access Toolbar’ you have to click on pull-down menu choice ‘More Commands’. Uh?   19 Dec  2010
  • Deficit – Word 2010 – clicking on commented text does not highlight the comment in the review pane 27 Dec  2010
  • Deficit – PowerPoint 2010 – cannot edit text box by clicking anywhere in it; must click on text within it 28 Dec  2010
  • Deficit : Keystroke shortcut CTRL-W does not close document in Office 2010 apps if doc is open to the “File” tab 3 Jan 2010
  • Deficit : Word 2010 – text in tables – hard to find Paragraph option. Only way I found was to add icon to Quick Access bar 4 Jan 2010
  • Deficit – Word 2010 – Default function of Insert key has changed. I thought all key stroke commands preserved 5 Jan 2010
  • Deficit / Bug – I will collect all my Tweets for a future blog post 5 Jan F 2010
  • Deficit – Excel 2010 – ~20 years later, still no native feature to label automatically scatter points or bubble charts 5 Jan 2010
  • Deficit – Word 2010 – Find feature does not find auto-numbered paragraphs, e.g, cannot search for “4.6” to find par 4.6 5 Jan 2010
  • Bug – Outlook closes in stand-by. Re-boot Win 7 PC: Outlook profile + other files ‘missing’. On 2nd re-boot, seems ok 9 Jan F 2010
  • Deficit – Word 2010 – Text in tables: Ribbon Bar v Pop Up Menu options, eg, text direction. Not obvious. 2010 easier how? 10 Jan  2010
  • Bug – Word 2010 – CTRL-V of 1-cell table only copies text, not cell. Use a paste option to fix. Not true for 2+ cells. 11 Jan  2010
  • Bug – Word 2010 – mouse over text with Tracked Changes does not consistently display pop-up formatting tool 13 Jan  2010