Sunday, February 15, 2009

MS Office is not integrated with itself

I'm working from home today, writing a strategy document. My document pulls from several sources, and at one point I realized I needed to copy/paste some data from a spreadsheet I'd created earlier. So from Word, I tried to open the Excel document.

That doesn't work. Word, not recognizing that this is an Excel spreadsheet that should be opened in Excel, tries to import the file as a document. In short, it's doing the wrong thing.

Under Linux and OpenOffice, everything is integrated. I guess I've taken that kind of behavior for granted. As a Linux user at work, when I was writing a similar document, I sometimes needed to open an Excel spreadsheet when I was in OpenOffice Writer. This worked as expected - OpenOffice realized the Excel file was a spreadsheet, and opened it in OpenOffice Spreadsheet.

I'm continually amazed that Windows and other Microsoft products just don't have the same level of integration and "ease of use" that have been there for years in Linux. Microsoft needs to wake up.


  1. I know you've said you won't go into it, but every post you make makes me wonder even more why you had to move to Windows. You don't have to name names or anything, but was your company bought by Microsoft or something? :S When they "suggested" you move your blog off campus, that shocked me a little bit too - especially since you had a disclaimer at the bottom.

  2. General comment: Has anyone suggested Cygwin as yet? I use XP at work and on my work laptop, and it makes so much difference having a sane GNU environment to do things in.

    (We have a few Windows servers we need for a particular vertical application, and we make sure those boxes have Cygwin as well - sshd and general sanity. Very useful for Nagios monitoring - with Cygwin, we can use many ordinariy bash script Nagios plugins as-is. Saved us tremendous amounts of work.)

  3. You should not have to have moved your blog from uThink. It is supposed to be unaffected by University Policy. The whole point of uThink disallowing the U's look and field and "watermarks" is that people could do what they want, like they were on Blogger, etc., on uThink without fear of .... wait, what was that noise, no one is supposed to be in my office tonight. OMG OMG OMG AAAAAAACCCCCHHKKKKKKK.........


  4. @noobix: It definitely wasn't my choice to switch from Linux to Windows. My direct boss has always been very open that he doesn't like "open source". I was very disappointed when he later made it clear that I needed to "set an example for others" by using the same tools (Office) and platform (Windows) as everyone else in our unit.

    I've previously made the case to management that the file format (DOC, XLS) is what matters, and this was received well. At one point in the past, our unit had included Linux in the "big three" platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux. There are plenty of other Linux users in our unit, and of course many of the students use it. Since OpenOffice is compatible with DOC, XLS, and PPT - I have been able to keep using that. All the other tools that I use as a manager are web-based, and work fine with Firefox. So I didn't have a problem using those tools from Linux.

    But things changed for my boss in December, and he basically gave me an ultimatum - he wanted me to run Windows, a standard deployment of desktop Windows (XP) installed & managed by the desktop support folks. I put it off as long as I could (January) but it wasn't really something I could ignore.

    However, it doesn't have to be something I agree with, either.

  5. @greg: Technically, no one came to me and said "move your blog off the U's blogging system." But my direct boss has become increasingly difficult over some other things happening here. He didn't know about my blog, and I just didn't want to put up with his ire if he found it and made a big deal.

    So I took the easier path, and decided to preemptively move my blog somewhere else.

    On the plus-side, I can be a little more open here. (But I'll probably still not directly identify where I work, just to maintain that separation.)

  6. Suggestion for future posts:

    Progress bars in windows.

    Installing. Anything.

  7. This is one that I, as you know, will disagree with you on. If I recall correctly, Open Office has its roots in Star Office, which was essentially a desktop replacement suite designed to work as a complete productivity GUI, so it makes sense that that the word processor would deny your request for it to open a spreadsheet because opening the document from the "file" menu would me much like double-clicking the spreadsheet in an explorer window.

    Much of my file-management experience is with graphics. When I open an Illustrator document in Photoshop, I expect Photoshop to import the document, not open the document in Illustrator. So, if I open a spreadsheet from Word, it makes sense to me that it would be imported as a table that I can paste into my current document. Actually, I have a whole slew of image editing applications, so when I open a jpeg from Photoshop, it's probably because that's what I want to use, not Lightroom or Preview or...


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