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Monday, January 02, 2017

Why Does Microsoft Think Complication = Improvements?



As a longtime user of MS WORD and Publisher (nearly 25 years now), I’ve seen many versions and updates.

The iteration of these programs in Office 365 is a prime example of over-complication.

EXHIBIT #1:  WORD:
Since the beginning of December 2016, a new irritant has appeared in WORD.  If you have “spelling check” enabled, you will see the familiar red wiggly line flagging your possibly misspelled word.


The irritation is the new “suggestions” of synonyms for the flagged word.  Not only can’t you spell, you don’t know the right word, either!

This new intrusion is simply a bother for those of us who feel competent in our word-hoards (as Beowulf puts it).  That’s from line 258, as the captain of the Geats tells the Danes why the Geat ship has arrived.

The work-around for this is to turn off “Check spelling automatically as you type” in OPTIONS.  You may still use the “spelling” feature on the REVIEW tab.

But, having to do this, that’s the heart of my plaint:  This new attribute, synonym-suggester, simply forces the competent people to take extra steps to avoid its interference.

Why can’t we turn off synonym-suggester and leave the wiggly spelling suggestions?


EXHIBIT #2:  Publisher’s Autoshape “Auto Fills”:
Before Office 365, when you created an Autoshape – a circle, a star, a rectangle, what-have-you – you got a nice shape WITH NO FILL.


Now, no matter what shape you select, it comes pre-filled with a ghastly blue.  You must remove the blue tint, or change it to another color or pattern fill.

What a pain!  This is an extra step, added for who knows what reason. 


EXHIBIT #3:  PUBLISHER’s WordArt Shadows:
In previous versions of Publisher, when you created WordArt, the default WordArt was in a simple font, with a solid fill and an outline.  No big deal.

In Office 365, you get this wonderful array of WordArt styles.  ONLY ONE PROBLEM:  No matter which of the EIGHTEEN “plain WordArt styles” you pick, ALL OF THEM have a default shadow added!

In the above illustration, I’ve got the WordArt in front of an object.  The shadow is always there whenever you create a new WordArt.  It’s not very visible until you have a non-white background.

Note the white shadow to the right of the letters?  FAIL, Microsoft!  I must take extra effort to REMOVE the shadow.

****

I spent over an hour in three separate online chats, with three official Microsoft helper techs, trying to resolve these issues.  Guess what – all three features are defaults that cannot be changed or removed.

Things like these are so irritating, especially in the two Publisher examples.  Why should the default function produce an object that I must take EXTRA STEPS to render basic and neutral?

Now that I’ve vented my spleen ... perhaps one of our fifteen readers knows of a workaround for any of these irritants.

Don't tell me to switch programs ... I'm psychologically "invested" in their simpler ancestors.

See you Thursday.  Happy New Year!
 

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