Thursday, October 28, 2010

Excel 2011 for Mac

I've toggled back and forth between Windows and Linux over the years. I much (*much*) prefer Linux, but a few applications forced me always to keep at least one foot in Windows. Those apps were: QuickBooks, Projector (a Professional Services Automation tool), and Microsoft Office. In fact only the first two really matter in and of themselves. For most of MS Office, you can shut it in a box with that bloody paperclip. I need Word and Powerpoint only to the extent that other people insist on using those proprietary file formats. But Excel is different. Excel 2007 kicks OpenOffice calc's a*se (I've used them both a lot). I do use Excel for stuff.

But I really don't like living in Windows. Apart from its exposure to Malware, the instability that's probably inevitable given its wide use just drives me nuts. Add to that collateral issues like the sheer amount of utter garbage trial/demo/ad/nag-ware that is inflicted on you when buying a new non-business machine, and also its constant attempts to "help" by guessing what I really want to do (which are never ever useful) and ... well, it sucks.

But about a year ago I decided that a reasonable compromise could be switching to Mac. A unix base, but able to run MS Office natively. Sounds cool. I'd still have to run Windows under Parallels or similar, but I'd get to live for most of my work in a much nicer OS.

But then I tried it and found that Office 2008 on the Mac is to Office 2007 (*The* Office) what the US economy is to a free market. Not Remotely The Same.

Well today I bought and installed the new Office 2011 for Mac. And after a *very* brief test I can say that I think that problem may have gone away. A key part of the test was to load up some Excel 2007 files, including some pivot tables from Projector, and some pretty intense INDIRECT()-based gaskets around those pivots. It all worked perfectly without even a warning.

Now although there were some macros in there (probably by virtue of the pivots) there was nothing in the way of VB. (VB? Messing up my lovely functional-esque pure Excel? Are you trying to be funny? If you need VB you need to go and learn more Excel. And if you *really* need VB, then you probably should be in Python or Ruby or something and dropping Excel completely.) So treat this, as I say, as a very brief test.

But so far, so good.

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