I read a blog post this morning on the Mini-Microsoft blog called Microsoft Has Turned the Corner and it got me wondering if they really have, or if it was merely wishful thinking on the part of the author. Then I saw that Microsoft had released Office 2010 videos and there was a lot of typical first-day hype around my social networks. The machine was in motion, so I decided to go along for the ride and see what there was to see. Although I went in really wanting to be dazzled, I wasn't. What I saw was more bells and whistles and not much else.
Bigger is Not Better
Much to my chagrin, the intro videos required Silverlight to view, but being a curious journalist I put aside my dislike of being forced to download new software to view a silly video (what's wrong with Flash anyway) and went along. I really wanted to see what this was about and if it was worth my concern. As I recently wrote in Moving on From Microsoft Office, there are lots of alternatives out there. Microsoft senses that and is looking to get the masses revved up for one more release.
Frankly, when I watched the Word video, I was disappointed. What I saw was the product manager bragging about fancy font effects and cool chart tools. Not what I want from my word processor, but thanks all the same. I'm not paying an exorbitant price so I can get a few more bells and whistles that are probably dangerous in the hands of the average end user. I liked the online sharing, but I can do that with Google Docs and it provides me with a simple word processor that does what I want.
Powerpoint was more of the same. The first thing the product manager shows off in the video is photo editing. I can see this would be useful, but if this is the best you got, your lead-off feature to really get me excited, you just lost me already. I have other tools to edit my photos, and it's not a feature I'm really looking for from my presentation program.
Tone it Down
Microsoft doesn't seem to get it that we don't want more and bigger. Most of us need a narrow of set of features that gets us from Point A to Point B. We really don't need to dazzle our boss with fancy fonts. Lord knows, Powerpoint users tend to way overdo the effects as it is. We simply didn't need more of that.
It could be that your videos did a poor job, that your product managers made an error in judgment and thought they would wow us with some special effects tools, but what we really, really want to do is just do our jobs. Google Docs gets that. So do OpenOffice and Zoho. Why can't Microsoft stop trying to impress us so much and see that too.
It would make a great story if Microsoft redefined itself and found its way back to its former 90s desktop glory days, but it's just not true, Mini-Microsoft not withstanding. It's just the same old, same old application bloat we've been seeing for years and that's just not what I want from my office suite.