The Mac Observer

Skip navigational links

Why Microsoft Office Mac 2004 Scares Me

by - Episode 21 - July 9th, 2004

Let me begin by saying I really like Microsoft Word v.X. It has the features I need, it works the way it's supposed to work, and it's been almost perfectly reliable for the past couple of years. I've said it many times and I'll probably say it many more: Word v.X may be the best word processor I have ever used, and Microsoft's Mac Business Unit builds damn fine software when you consider that the father of Windows signs their paychecks.

Office v.X may be out of production but it is still the gold standard to me. It took an update or two from Microsoft, but for the past year or two Word and the other Office v.X apps have worked like a champ for me and rarely caused me grief.

I wish I could say the same for the new release, Office Mac 2004, but I am afraid I can't. After using it (mostly Word, with a little Excel and Entourage thrown in for variety) for a month and it looks like it was released before its time.

I find myself using Office Mac 2004 less and less, and only when working on unimportant projects. And that's being charitable -- I am sorely tempted to delete the whole Office 2004 suite until an update arrives, at which time I'll gladly give it another shot and see if they got it right yet. But the bottom line for me is that when there's money on the line, I can't trust the new versions.

What, exactly, is wrong with Office Mac 2004? I don't know that it's any single issue. It's more that I feel it was rushed out before it was finished with more than a few rough edges, which doesn't inspire much confidence.

Among my specific complaints are issues that include Excel freezing when I try to save a very simple spreadsheet created with an older version of Excel.

Here's how it goes: First I choose Save As…

(Click the thumbnail for a full-size image)

Then the beachball of death appears...

The dastardly beachball remains on my screen until either:

1. I force Excel to quit...


2. Excel forces itself to quit...

At least it's polite about it and apologizes for the inconvenience, but still, incidents like this don't inspire confidence. I mean, this spreadsheet is tiny with only a few dozen cells and a couple of very simple macros. I am afraid to even try saving some of my bigger and more complicated sheets with Excel Mac 2004.

Word Mac 2004 doesn't seem to have a freezing-crashing gremlin like the one I discovered in Excel but it has several maddening traits. For example, what's wrong with this picture:Insert RantandRaveFig2101.tiff

(Click the thumbnail for a full-size image)

If you haven't figured it out yet, it's that the document's title bar is underneath the menu bar, making it impossible to move the document window. I could understand (but probably not excuse) this behavior if the document had been created on another Mac with a larger monitor, or on a PC. But this document was created with Word Mac 2004, which ought to be able to remember window positions of documents it creates. I mean, the previous version has never done this to me…

While this one is easily remedied by choosing Zoom from the Windows menu, once again, this type of behavior doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

Here's another one that I find annoying: Word 2004 has a new toolbar called the Adobe Acrobat PDFMaker:

That's all well and good, and I guess it's useful, but it seems there is no way you can banish it permanently. I've tried it all: Clicking its red gumdrop; using the View-->Toolbars menu item; unchecking it in the Customize Toolbars and Menus dialog box; and moving it to the nether regions of my second monitor. No matter what I do, it comes back like a bad penny every time I launch Word Mac 2004.

It would be less irritating if it didn't also move my document down on screen by about 1/2 inch, but it does that every time as well.

(Click the thumbnail for a full-size image)

In all fairness, most of my complaints aren't data-destroyers or hard-crashers, but taken as a whole they have shaken my faith in Office Mac 2004 to the point where I have gone back to Word v.X for most of my work.

I am waiting with baited breath for that update, which I expect soon. I'll be happy to give Office Mac 2004 another chance then, but until that time I'll be using Office v.X, a suite of excellent programs that still works flawlessly.

…and that's all he wrote.

Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus has been a Macintosh user for a long, long time and has written 49 computer books including Mac OS X Tiger For Dummies and GarageBand for Dummies. He also offers expert technical help and training to Mac users, in real time and at reasonable prices, via telephone, e-mail, and/or unique Internet-enabled remote control software. For more information on Bob and his services, visit

Send polite comments to

Send impolite comments to [email protected], or post your comments below.

Most Recent Columns From Dr. Mac: Rants & Raves

Dr. Mac: Rants & Raves Archives

Recent TMO Headlines - Updated December 7th

Wed, 4:49 PM
Apple Announces Powerful New User and Data Security Features
Wed, 4:43 PM
Apple Delivers New Wave of OS Release Candidates
Wed, 3:30 PM
French Group Files Complaint Against Apple Over Device Repairability
Wed, 1:14 PM
Travelin' Tim Talks TSMC
Wed, 12:34 PM
'Disney Dreamlight Valley' Arrives for Apple Mac Sillicon Users
Wed, 12:26 PM
Two Women Sue Apple for Illegal AirTag Tracking Incidents
Wed, 12:17 PM
Apple Wins Patent Battle Against AliveCor Over Heart Rate Monitoring
Wed, 11:51 AM
Apple TV+ Lands 10 Nominations at 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards
Wed, 3:00 AM
Pricing Tools for Developers and Things We Didn't See Coming - TMO Daily Observations 2022-12-07
Tue, 5:06 PM
Apple CEO Tim Cook Says Chips Can Soon Be Stamped ‘Made in America’
Tue, 4:49 PM
Microsoft Looking Into 'Super App' to Directly Compete with Apple and Google in Search Engine Markets
Tue, 4:04 PM
Get Your Crunchyroll Anime Fix on Your Mac
  • __________
  • Buy Stuff, Support TMO!
  • Podcast: Mac Geek Gab
  • Podcast: Daily Observations
  • TMO on Twitter!