Microsoft Office for the Mac 2011 Fail

Excel Help Fail

Microsoft Office for the Mac 2011 Fail

When Microsoft released Office 2011 for the Mac and I read the reviews, I upgraded immediately.  The reviews said document fidelity was preserved when moving between the Windows and Mac versions.  I’ve found this to be true.  But, once again, Microsoft has managed to screw things up. Their most recent update (labeled “critical”) caused a major Microsoft Office for the Mac 2011 fail.

Technical details first.  This is the 14.3.7 (130812) update to Office 2011.  I’m running a MacBook pro with Mountain Lion.  There are two major feature failures.

The most glaring is Excel help.  After literally decades of getting help right, Microsoft managed to screw this up.  I use the FREQUENCY() function sporadically and have never tried to learn the obscure keystrokes required.  Something like “highlight the array (actually a vector), press Ctrl-U followed by Command-Z-Enter.  If that’s correct, it’s a measure of how much my brain has been corrupted.

Until the most recent update I could count on Excel help to … well, um, help.  I’d open Excel Help and search on FREQUENCY and I’d get the link I needed.  No more.  This is what I see now:

Excel Help Fail

Excel Help Fail

You read that correctly: searching for FREQUENCY() brings up a list of financial functions.  Major fail.  But wait — it gets better.

I use the Office Equation Editor a lot.  So much, in fact, that I’ve added an icon to my Word toolbar that launches it.  But now Microsoft has added several new steps.  First the Equation Editor opens two windows.  If you don’t close the back window you can’t use any of the toolbar functions in the front window.  Just fyi, here’s how the Word and two Equation windows overlap:

 Equation Editor Fail

Equation Editor Fail

Sadly, most of my work requires Microsoft Office compatibility.  Otherwise I’d dump office faster than I dropped Windows a few years ago.  I keep my Windows XP machine running just because there are some apps that don’t have Mac versions.

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