I tried, I really did


I just installed Word and Excel 2003 into Parallels. When I got this MacBook Pro in November, I was so hopeful that I could avoid this day. I wanted to do everything in Word and Excel 2004 that I used to do in the Windows 2003 versions. I know, it’s not like I was going from light to darkness…Office 2004 is just a tiny bit less evil than Office 2003…more of a charcoal grey on the black & white hat scale.

Office 2004 is a nice experience compared to Office 2003. Easier to adjust type settings for starters. But I’m still hopelessly tied to Outlook. I need the Salesforce Outlook plug-in so I can have the entire organization’s contact list at my fingertips without having to import those names into my address book. And I use that plug-in to add emails to contact and donation records. UPS sends us a notification when a package has been delivered. With a click, that tracking number and shipping status is attached to the record of the donation and to the contact. That way when someone calls and says, “Where’s my package of blue star awareness pins?” I can pull up their record in Salesforce and have the entire history.

I also still rely on the Getting Things Done Outlook plug-in. I’m hopeless without it. There are other GTD tools for setting up projects, tasks and actions, but this is the only one that I’ve found that let’s you send an incoming or outgoing email directly to an action. So if I send an email to our Office Manager asking her to do something, I can set that email to “Send and Delegate” which will send the email and create a @WaitingFor task for me so I know I have to keep that on my radar until she responds. No dropped threads that way.

I tried having Outlook in XP and the rest of Office in OS X and it was just more trouble than it was worth to constantly save attachments to the Mac side of the desktop to open it in Word or Excel 2004. DemandTools and PeopleImport don’t like working with files that are in Parallels shared folders, so I had to download my exports to the Mac side, open in Excel and set up the data, then copy to the XP side to import into Salesforce with DemandTools or PeopleImport. A hassle. I’m too busy. I give up. Just so much faster to manipulate the data in Excel 2003 and work with it right there.

This is why these applications dominate, folks. It’s not that things can’t be done in other ways, it’s that the return on doing them in other ways just isn’t worth the time and effort it takes to do it. And I was moving from Microsoft to Microsoft! Forget any hope of a fulltime move to OpenOffice or Google Docs no matter how attractive (or how “green”) they are.


7 responses to “I tried, I really did”

  1. It would be a step in the right direction. I’d still need Parallels for QuickBooks and Quicken, but I’d be able to open those when needed and not have to keep them running all the time like I do for Outlook. I’d also have to use IE for some sites that I manage. But again, that’s a “as needed” thing. With Outlook, it’s “always needed.” 😉

  2. Judi,

    I wholeheartedly agree. Office 2004 is painfully slow on my MacBook with 1 gig of RAM. I love Entourage and Word and Excel, but to have all three open just brought my computer to a crawl. Rosetta is great, but not so great at the same time.

    Recently, my small non-profit got a free upgrade to Office 2007 through Software Assurance. So, I checked out the new version through Parallels and I truly do love it. I have even started using Outlook again because that’s what 90% of the business world uses. They’ve even done a better job with IMAP accounts in this version. Why use Rosetta if I don’t have to.

    Since my wife is a teacher, I will check out the Student-Teacher edition of Office 2008, and if it’s better, I will switch back. But right now, it works for me.

    So, I feel your pain!

  3. I have got to the point now that if a web site requires IE, I will not use it. I have used Outlook, and didn’t find it that brilliant. Instant notification of mails coming in, can be a pain. I use Apple’s Mail, which I have had to reduce the frequency of mail checking to prevent me getting distracted each time a new mail comes in. I believe that it is possible to live in the business world without M$. Though it will take some time if you work in a larger organisation.

    I recently upgraded my RAM to 2GB from 1GB and found a vast improvement in the performance of my computer. I can even use it while compiling OpenOffice.org without noticing much of a performance hit, though do notice the fans on.

  4. Nice in theory, Shaun. Just doesn’t work in reality. The business world is focused around Microsoft tools. You can work around it, but it takes effort to be successful. Google is trying to make inroads, they aren’t even close yet. I already work a 60+ hour week, I don’t have time to be futzing with trying to make round pegs fit in square holes. Why is the “it’s easy” argument only okay if it’s in favor of using a Mac? 😉

    I have to submit payroll to ADP every two weeks. Their website requires IE 6. What am I supposed to say to the folks who want to get paid…sorry, I don’t like IE? Why should I sit on the phone calling in hours when I can get it done in 5 minutes online?

    That’s the point of this post…sometimes you can make an easy adjustment. And sometimes it’s just not worth the leap. Avoiding MS Office on the Windows side wasn’t worth it to me.

  5. I suppose that I am coming from a different view point with my own experience. I have only worked in Small and Medium Sized businesses, where there tends to be more flexibility in the tools that you use. The most in the week I have worked in terms of employed hours was about 39 in a week. I’m still a student so haven’t got out into the real world much. I’m still in a postion where if I don’t like a tool such as IE, I don’t need to use it.

    I do have a strong background in terms of open source and Mac applications, so this is what I am generally used to.

    My university is using MS Outlook. In my humble opinion Outlook Web Access is very poor, even compared to the previous squirrelmail. I now use Apple Mail to read and send my University Mail (it supports Outlook accounts).

    If I do work for a company, I will just use the tools that they give me or supply my own, though will try to use other better options if possible (I have done both). This is essentially what you are doing, so I shouldn’t be complaining.

    Come July I will be graduating and have a choice of the business I work for (or myself), and which tools to use. In the past year or two, I have had many employer presentation from companies who use open source apps as their main platform for developing software for their clients.

    Over time businesses may change to more open standard and cross platform apps. Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later when bigger businesses start to adopt these platforms.

    There are many different view points on the subject. I’m sure that they are all based on our own experience, and what we are able to do to earn a living, whether or not it is the most enjoyable tools that we have to use.

    Finally, if you can afford it, I would seriously recommend upgrading your RAM to 2GB or more. You will see a preformance boost that is noticeable.