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Office 2010, early impressions

I’ve mentioned several times that I hadn’t seen Office 2010 yet, so I couldn’t comment on it, and would reserve judgment until I’ve seen it. I’ve been working for companies that were a bit behind the times on that.

I’ve been working with it for a week now. I won’t be buying it for my own use at home.

The ribbon makes a little more sense now than it did the first time I saw it in Office 2007, and it doesn’t give me a blinky thing in the upper left hand corner, which is always a good thing. The behavior of the “file” tab is different from the Office 2007 blinky thing (I guess they want you to call it an orb), but it’s tolerable. But it’s still change for the sake of change, much like the ribbon was in the first place.

Office 2007 is buggy, especially when it comes to autorecover. I haven’t seen Office 2010’s autorecover. But one of the first things I had to do with Office 2010 was to encrypt a document, and the encryption is buggy. Other Office 2010 users running Windows 7 could open my encrypted document, but coworkers running Office 2010 on Windows XP couldn’t open it, nor could coworkers running Office 2007 on Windows 7, or Office 2007 on Windows XP. Both the version of Office and underlying OS have to match, which defeats the purpose of being able to share files.

Our desktop support people think there may be a patch for that.

The cryptography may not matter to some people, but since we sometimes have to store confidential information like financial data, encryption is critical for us.

I think it’s too early to say how Office 2010’s stability is, but since the encryption is wonky, it’s entirely possible the stability isn’t all that it can be either.

But that’s not the most annoying thing. It’s slow. Do you remember the days when Word or Excel would load in one second off a reasonably fast drive? These days, you’re looking at four or five seconds at best, and there have been times it’s been more like 30, which is comparable to the amount of time it takes for Windows to load these days. And from time to time it will just sit there, then catch up all of a sudden. This is on a 2.2 GHz Core 2 Duo system with 3 GB of RAM in it–not a barn burner, but standard issue in my office, and it ran Office 2007 at a perfectly acceptable speed. Office 2003 running on my netbook, which has a first-generation single-core Atom CPU at 1.6 GHz ran circles around it, even when I had the world’s slowest SSD in it.

For that matter, my painfully slow Athlon 1.1 GHz PC in my basement with its slow-when-it-was-new (but indestructible) Quantum Fireball lct hard drive in it keeps up just fine with this. Office 2010 on this modern PC feels like Open Office 1.01 running on that underpowered old Athlon.

My verdict: I’ll use it at work, because it’s what I have to use at work. I use whatever tools they give me.

But at home, when Microsoft stops releasing patches for Office 2003, I’ll either switch to Libre Office or Wordperfect. This is a release only hardware vendors could love.

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