Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac -Outlook and Word

I have always wanted to directly access my Outlook schedule on my Macbook Pro, and found nothing that really satisfied except to go into Virtual Box, run Windows and launch Outlook. I purchased Office 2011 for Mac really just for the Outlook, but found to my disappointment, that it supports only Exchange Server 2007 or later. Our corporate server is Exchange Server 2003, and so I’ve had zero luck trying to get it to work.

I was on the cusp of returning the package to the Apple store when I launched Word just for the hell of it. Yes, there are some Microsoft related annoyances like the listed user on the splash screen is “Test User” rather than me, and I can’t figure out how to change that, but despite that, I have come to love Word 2011, even more than Pages.

I never really warmed to Pages despite its relatively straightforward and simplified scheme. It does create beautiful PDF documents and I think that that is how I will use Pages.

What I love about this Word is that it is Word, and for some reason, I don’t mind the business at the top -called the Ribbon. It’s remarkably easy to use.

My corporate experience with Word 2003 is not so great, but mostly tolerable, but 2011’s Word is just flat out wonderful. I haven’t even started using the cloud links. Fact is, I hated going to Google apps except to bang out snippets to paste into a later document. Same goes for using Pages on my iPad, which I have decided is not to be used with a keyboard unless absolutely necessary -the Bluetooth never really works and requires frequent re-linking, and even with the plug in keyboard stand (pictured partially under the Office 2011 box above), it never really works well.

Why is Word 2011 all of a sudden important to me?

First, my Macbook Pro is back. I basically stopped using it over the summer because of iPad, but I realize now that to make stuff,  you still need the power of a laptop. I toyed with the idea of getting a Macbook Air, but the primary thing that I wanted was just battery life, and I could get it with extra batteries. When the warranty runs out, I plan on swapping the hard drive out for Flash based SSD’s.

The Macbook Pro, despite being 2 years old, is still lightning fast and eminently sufficient for what I need to do. Docked here to a 23 inch monitor, it basically functions as an iMac, but mobile, it is wonderful to sit down in a comfortable chair and compose.

Second, writing well is very important to me and I have always chosen the finest papers and writing instruments when I write manually (and lose a lot of those fine writing instruments, which is why I favor multipacks of Uniball Onyx pens). Word 2011 is like a top of the line IBM Selectric or a Mont Blanc pen. With 2011, you are writing in style. The spell checking, the formatting, the grammar checking all works well and intuitively. For example, I chose the quotation format, and then later changed the font. It asks you subsequently when you make another quotation, if you want to use the modified format, but does so in a way that doesn’t infuriate you like past Microsoft efforts.

Third, compatibility is still an issue. Despite the fact that I find quitting desktop based software for the cloud easy and natural, most people don’t. There will necessarily be a five year time lag before it ever happens and it may never really happen as people don’t want Google or Facebook (cloud apps are next for them) to know everything about you. The funny thing is, the default file format is .docx which is not backwards compatible!

Fourth -there is no Clippy. In fact, there is very little Windows anything. It feels like Mac software, which OpenOffice and StarOffice, the free office suites, do not. Pages feels more like a page layout software than a word processor, while the iPad version’s fixed appearance just drives me crazy -call me shallow but I think the fake wood top margin drives me insane, and I have gravitated to Quickoffice on iPad for exactly that reason.

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