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Office 2013 Splash Thing

With Office 2003 nearing it's end of life date, I decided that it was time to finally upgrade to something newer after almost 8 years of 2003. I wanted to use Libreoffice or OpenOffice, but they have the nickname "BloatedOffice" for a reason: 300 MB (or so) of RAM at idle! Plus you couldn't use any of the .---x formats that Microsoft so handily switched to with Office 2007. They're supposed to, but I found that it just corrupts the file when you try to save it. So I had to spend the money on an Office 2013 license, since I don't have a working copy of 2007 anymore.

Oh dear lord, was that ever a mistake. I should have just bought a 2007 disc from somewhere.
It's not enough for me to just say that it was a mistake though. In typical fashion I have screenshots which depict exactly HOW much of a mistake I made, and how many mistakes Microsoft made with Office 2013 (spoiler alert: I can't count that number on two hands).

Office 2013 Create
So here it is, the main Office 2013 screen.

Wait, this is Windows 7! What is a full-screen application doing here?!? Oh wait, it's not quite full-screen.
How many UI design guidelines does this blatantly violate? Let's take a look:

  • It is basically a Metro app in Windows 7.
  • It wastes about half the window and crams everything together at the top.
  • It isn't clear that clicking on design templates will allow you to create a new document, they expect you to know that.
  • Recent files appear in the sidebar. This is not technically right, you should have them below the new templates.
  • What the heck happened to the preset presentations like that Communicating Bad News one?
  • It makes heavy use of hyperlinks, something that SHOULD NOT be in a desktop application.
  • There are no real buttons anywhere.
  • The program is pretty heavily tied into the internet, a humongous no-no for a desktop application.

That's eight things. More than even Windows 8's Metro. I am actually impressed (and not in a good way).

Microsoft's abrupt transition over to full-screen and full-screen-like applications is nothing short of annoying. If I have a desktop app I want to have real buttons, dialog boxes and oh geez maybe WINDOWS?
The flatter appearance is OK, I guess it's better than having stupid glass-like 3D rendering all over the place, but a flat Windows 8 program on a 3D Windows 7 is completely inappropriate and looks like crap, and trust me when I say that certain people (myself included) go berserk when that happens.

Office 2013 Open
UI design violation #9: Opening files doesn't open a dialog box like you would expect (and like practically every other freaking program out there), rather it brings up another Metro-like page.

Again, for accuracy's sake, it's actually called the "Modern UI", even though there is nothing modern about it. MS-DOS came out in 1981 guys, come on.

Dialog boxes have been a standard feature in Windows since Windows 3.1. Prior to that vendors had to implement their own dialog boxes, if they even wanted those.
Now it seems that Microsoft wants everyone to transition over to these stupid full-screen things. Next thing they'll do is rename Windows to Pages, because that's where everything is going.

If that wasn't bad enough, UI design violation #10 is that it defaults to showing recently opened files. This means more clicks for users to get to files, and more of a potential to induce carpal tunnel over a long term basis. This coming from the company who invented the "Natural Keyboard" which is supposed to be ergonomic. Although I guess I'm not that surprised; I used to own a "Natural" keyboard and ironically there was absolutely nothing natural about it. In fact if anything that piece of garbage probably induces carpal tunnel on it's own.

Office 2013 Sign In
Let's take another look at violation #8, shall we?
So we've established that Office 2013 is integrated with the internet. Fine, but they expect you to sign up for a Microsoft account (or sign in with yours if you were gullible enough to get one) to "get the most out of Office".

This doesn't enhance any user experience at all, doesn't give you any new features, doesn't make the program fart rainbows or eat your broccoli for you, and is a blatant advertisement for Microsoft's online services which frankly are utter crap (and before you say that I'm just hating on Microsoft for the sake of it, Google Drive is a broken pile of poo as well). I've said it before, and I will say it again: I do not want your cloud services. I have my own hard drives and file servers, I would rather use those, because at least in that case I know that my data isn't being mined by some corporation or snooped on by the NSA. Plus I have control over my hard drive setup and I can do whatever I want with it. So, no thank you SkyDrive (or Google Drive or whatever), I don't need you.

Office 2013 Create New
Clicking on a template brings up this.

I have no problem with it, actually. Except for the fact that something like this belongs on a website and not in a desktop application.

Office 2013 UI Inconsistency
UI design violation #11 is the worst of them all: Two+ different UIs in the same program.

Once you open up a file, it switches to this much more traditional user interface (at least in terms of ribbon UIs). Really?
I have mentioned it before: multiple differing UIs in an operating system is a great way to confuse and annoy users because now they have to learn two entirely different paradigms to make use of the included programs. With Office 2013 Microsoft has taken the whole "multiple UIs in an OS" thing a step further and implemented two entirely different UIs in the same program: the older ribbon UI, and the new and crappy Metro page-like UI. There is no technical advancement to doing this, but Microsoft probably realized that it would be difficult to redesign the whole damn thing to use the Metro style.

Hmm, gee, you think maybe that Metro is completely inappropriate for something like an office application? It's quite sad that some random 17 year old high school student gets it, while a multi-billion dollar megacorporation and the employees housed within doesn't...

Office 2013 Ribbon
No real changes here, just the addition of some all-caps labels which was completely unnecessary. It still inherits all the problems of the older ribbon UI.

Office 2013 Customizing
Wow, it's possible to make some tweaks to the ribbon now, that don't involve adding custom buttons to the title bar?

Office 2013 File 'Menu'
So in previous versions of Office, that File button takes you to a menu. In Office 2013 it just bops you back into a ridiculous Metro page.

How about we name all the problems here:

  • We're down to a quarter of used window space, sometimes less in places.
  • The Info page is an inappropriate thing to have on this page since you can't even see the document behind it.
  • Selecting certain options still opens up dialog boxes, which then closes this menu so you have to go right back into the menu manually.
  • It always defaults to this useless Info page, meaning you have to click more to access various options.
  • Back buttons should be reserved for web browsers and windows. Not menus.
  • Like alot of the rest of the UI there are many hyperlinks used everywhere, which should not be present in a desktop application.

I lost count, how many UI design principle violations is that now? I have to be at 15 by this point...

Office 2013 Options? What?
Speaking of UI design principle violations, this is another one. I would expect the options to be present in some kind of Metro-like page, because that would make sense, right?

Nope.

This kind of crap is what bugs me about Microsoft these days. It's always the obvious little changes that they should have made that they didn't. Something like popping up dialog boxes from a Metro-style interface should not be happening, it should all be implemented in a clean, refined, smooth UI that just simply works.

Then again they shouldn't have implemented any Metro crap in the first place, but come on. If you're going to re-invent your own UI then PLEASE make it user friendly!

Conclusion:
Oh man Office 2013 is a turd. I thought 2007 was bad, 2007 looks like freaking GOLD compared to this! It's like Microsoft thought "Well, Office is already a junky program so might as well make it as junky as we possibly can!"

I'm surprised the world still puts up with this crap. Unfortunately I am going to have to find a way to get used to this (or just buy a freaking Office 2007 CD), since Office 2003 is too darn old now.

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