Columnist calls Office v. X 'much cleaner'

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Writing for BusinessWeek, Byte of the Apple columnist Charles Haddad noted that Microsoft's Office suite has never been a "looker," at least until now -- the newest version of Office for the Mac takes advantage of Mac OS X's Aqua interface. "Never has Office looked so good," said Haddad, in a new article entitled A Much Cleaner Office for OS X.

Regardless of how good Office looks in Mac OS X, Haddad is also happy that users can pare down the clutter of toolbars, floating palettes and other amenities that populate Office's interface. "You can make Word, the bloated grandfather of all Microsoft applications, look as clean, simple, and inviting as OS 9's SimpleText or OS X's TextEdit applications. Now that's progress," said Haddad.

Haddad said that Office v.X's interface is easier to see and understand than previous incarnations, and that certain features are easier to find. This is partly because of smarter design on Microsoft's part, and also because of Office's use of Quartz, the graphics engine built into Mac OS X.

Haddad noted that Office is a "better citizen" on the Mac, isolating applications into what he calls their own digital playpens. "In years past, Office has been an unruly, 800-pound gorilla, inserting all kinds of files, preferences and extensions wherever it wanted on your Mac," said Haddad.

Added to that, the software fully supports Mac OS X's protected memory architecture, and Haddad said that over a week's worth of what he called "heavy use," it didn't crash or take down the operating system once. "Any long-time user of Office knows what a milestone that represents."

Haddad admitted that Office v. X isn't perfect, and he said he'll dissect the weaknesses of the new version piece by piece over the coming weeks. "But the good news here -- and it will outweigh the collective sum of all the little problems -- is that Microsoft has used OS X as a vehicle to truly improve its flagship software."

This story, "Columnist calls Office v. X 'much cleaner'" was originally published by PCWorld.

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