Monday, December 01, 2008

Why not to upgrade to Office 2008 for Mac and to keep using Office 2004

Ok, so when Mac Office 2008 came out this year, I was pretty happy to upgrade.  After all, 2004 was four years old, and because I had an Intel Mac it had to run under Rosetta which means it ran pretty slow.

Office 2008 promised faster speeds for Intel Mac owners as well as more formatting options and file compatibility with the new Vista Office (DOCX, etc.) formats.

Well, I've installed 2008 and decided to go back to 2004 and here's why...

First Excel and PowerPoint for 2008 do seem improved and ran at least as good if not faster then theri 2004 versions on my Intel Mac.  They had obvious improvements in the user interface and PowerPoint had some really nice graphic enhancements.  Word however, actually runs slower.  Even though now it is running naitive on my Intel processor.  Worst, Microsoft removed Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) from Office 2008 so all those Excel spreadsheets with fancy Macros that I have to use for my job won't work on it.  Lastly I have a relatively simple newsletter template that I use a few times a year, and in 2008 it has some formatting issues.  It's hard to explain but if a Microsoft engineer wants to get in touch with me, I'll explain how to reproduce the problem and send them the file.  (Hello Microsoft Mac Business Unit?)

Also Microsoft has released a converter that now allows Office 2004 (and the older v.X even) to open the new Vista DOCX Open XML file format, so another motivation for upgrading to Office 2008 is eliminated.  You can get that upgrade here.

Anyway, so what I've decided to do is keep both 2004 and 2008 installed on my Mac.  They actually run fine side by side.  Just make sure at the end of the 2008 installer app, you do NOT check the "remove 2004" option and you can keep 2004 around for faster Word editing and VBA macro support.

Update:  I've applied the latest Mac Office 2008 updates bringing me to version 12.1.5.  It does seem Word performance has improved a lot.  However, it is still having problems formatting my newsletter template, and I'm seeing this a lot more too:

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