Microsoft Office 2003

This morning, I was subjected to a rant against Microsoft Office 2003 by my wife. She hates it. I’ve never used it, so this is my recreation of her story to me.

Setting: We’re both on the couch, about to watch some Saturday morning College Football, when a commercial for Office 2003 comes on the TV.

She said something like:

“You know the new Office 2003? It sucks. It sucks because when I open a new message, Outlook decides that it needs to display the fonts in like 18, or 20 point fonts, and I can’t figure out how to get it to not do that. I’ve played with the settings for at least 3 or 4 hours since our IT department installed it, and I can’t figure it out.”

You have to realize my wife is a civil engineer, and very smart… great technical skills, and generally able to figure out on her own how to get a computer to do what she wants it to.

Then she tells me more:

“There’s this guy at the office that owns Macs at home, but is pretty supportive of Microsoft at the office because we use a lot of products that are Windows only, and he hates the new Office 2003. It just changed all the behaviors that we were used to. Why did Microsoft do that? Office 2003 Sucks™”

At this point, I start laughing, because if my wife is saying this, I wonder what others are saying? I know my best friend is flirting with switching.

She then says (totally un-prompted):

“You know that commercial when the IT guy gets asked by the guy giving the new employees a tour of the building ‘Tell them about what your department does, but keep it short’? And the IT guy says ‘We just installed Active Directory, which will save the company a lot of money’?”

I responded that I knew what she was referring to.

“One of our IT guys showed us that commercial in a presentation about the ‘new network enhancements’ that they just made, trying to teach us all about the enhancements. We’d all been using the ‘enhanced network’ for a week at the time that he showed us that commercial and we just laughed. You see, the new ‘enhanced network’ is a piece of crap. We can’t check our email from outside the network reliably anymore. We can’t get to the servers in other buildings like we used to be able to. We can’t share files as easily as we used to, and Office 2003 Sucks™. Sometimes I think IT departments make upgrades to make their jobs easier, not to make the company more profitable, becasue they don’t take into account the time and effort that the profit makers will have to exert to learn and use the new technology with the efficiency that they use the old technology.”

It’s clear that the wife’s not happy with Office 2003, and it has driven a wedge between the employees of her company and their IT department. I personally feel that change is good, but not when it’s so disturbing to the people that have to deal with it in the trenches that it disrupts their daily work. Some of this animosity by the workers that have to use the new tech could have been subdued by the IT department telling the workers about the enhancements and likely problems that might come during the ‘upgrades’ before they started rolling them out, instead of after.

And supposedly, Microsoft cares.

14 Responses to “Microsoft Office 2003”

  • I can certainly understand your wife’s anger about the fonts size that would drive me nuts also. Why this setting is hidden so deeply is beyond me either but this should…. from the main form of Outlook go to View>Arrange By>Custom>Other Settings on this form you can change the fonts (including size :+))for any of the panes of Outlook 2003 you can also set a large number of other things from here too.

    I hope this is helpful for her let me know if I can assist further.


    Microsoft Academic MVP

  • Well, that’s swell, but what bugs me about Outlook 2003 is how it breaks things that used to work. Case in point: It forces me to reply to emails using the format that people used in sending the note to me. So HTML mails get responded to as HTML, etc. I don’t like doing that. I want everything sent out as plain text, regardless of how it came in — unless I specifically choose to do otherwise. Outlook Express allows this, as did prior version of Outlook, but not Outlook 2003. Maddening.

  • <quote> Sometimes I think IT departments make upgrades to make their jobs easier, not to make the company more profitable, becasue they don’t take into account the time and effort that the profit makers will have to exert to learn and use the new technology with the efficiency that they use the old technology.”


    If a cost-benefit analysis were made each time someone came out with a new version of any product that took into account lost productivity, lost time relearning how to do the same tasks in the “new improved” way, we’d see a lot fewer upgrades.

    I keep seeing the Office 2003 is pretty much a non-starter in a lot of organizations: it adds very little value, relative to it’s costs and added complexity. The hope, for inhouse IT staffs and MSFT, is that the XML components of the Office apps make a compelling case to upgrade but I think folks have seen enough parallels to the Trojan Horse to be wary. If we buy into that feature, what else comes with it that we don’t want?

  • nothing like having Scoble link to a rant about a ‘feature’ to get an answer on how to more effectively use that feature properly. Thanks for the tip Mark… and Scoble, if you’re reading this, I’ll get a screenshot to you if I get a chance to go up to the wife’s office tomorrow.

  • It is strange for me to read this. I love Outlook 2003. I ordered the beta kit for the public the first day it went public and I feel like it’s a nice program. Attractive interface and easy to use. I have seen the reply problem, where it defaults to the sender, but I use it because I know that the sender prefers the format they send themselves. Regarding the font size in an email I have never noticed it. I am sitting here opening email after email and they all look fine. Screw that anyway, why isn’t she using the reading pane? That is how Outlook 2003 is meant to look. 3 columns up and down… unless she is on a ghetto lo-res laptop… which is very possible in today’s business world.

  • Paul if you do not want to respond to someone using an HTML message that is changed via the following: Tools>Options>Mail Format Tab on this form you can change how all your mail is formated even if they send it to you as HTML. It will give you a choice of plain text or rich text. You can even turn off the using word as you editor which will save your machine some overhead as well.


  • Control+MouseWheel will increase and decrease the size of the font in the message you are reading (provided it is being rendered by the IE engine rather than Word).

  • Very considerate to include a picture of your wife with her rant. ;-D

  • Where is the setting to make Excel 2003 not crash ALWAYS. I used Office XP just fine, now that I’ve upgraded to Office 2003, opening any of my old spreadsheets causes Excel to floor the CPU while “recalculating cells”. I think my 286 was better with spreadsheets than this POS.

  • EXCEL 2003 is a piece of crap. It randomly decides things like, oh today you cannot delete columns…only rows. Oh yeah, and all those series and sequences that were automatic in EXCEL 2000, yeah they are gone. Don’t worry, you can program them all back in, just sit down in your spare time and type 1 through 1 zillion in the cells and save it as a list. Whoohoo!!!!

  • I work in an IT Department and recently deployed Microsoft Office to many machines in the company. So far I have documented all of the problems reported by users and they amount to perhaps 5 different problems. This is on day three after the installation. Some of the problems are due to changes in the software requiring users to do things differently (not really problems but the users don’t know how to use the new software) only two of the problems appear to be bugs. Regardless we have found fixes that take 30 seconds to implement. Of course sticking with the old version of office might be easier for the users.

    Overall, the end users are very happy with the upgrade

  • MS Outlook and Word 2003 crashing and failing to send

    I bought a Sony Vaio laptop VGN-TX2XP in the UK with a trial copy of Office 2003. I have used Word and Outlook most and they are so unreliable. They both crash about 4 times daily and Outlook periodically refuses to send anything in the Outbox. I have checked with my ISP and mail server administrator and there are no problems there.

    I do not know if one of the Microsoft Service Packs would help (as there is no service pack called ‘This service pack resolves all the crap you are living through regardless of version, click here) and doubt I can install them to the trial version. I do not want to buy MSOffice 2003 on the basis of this experience but our copy of the previous version is in a packing box in the UK while we find a place to live in Toronto. I checked the MS support website and found that they reckon this is a hardware reseller issue and that if I wanted Microsoft to look at it they’d charge me $45. Great. Any suggestions anyone? I’m losing my mind. Thanks. Kate

  • I agree that Office 2003 sucks.
    I just wrote a word document uning 2003 and created some custom fonts.
    I go to Outlook and now the custom fonts from the word document are formating my email as the default. Sure I can undo this. But it all takes time.

    I am a software developer and can tell you that this is classic ‘feature bloat’ Microsoft marketing department trying to lock us all into MS Office for everything we use.

    I don’t think so guys.

    I often use this sequence of keystokes below to separate text

    MS Office 2003 INSISTS on autoformating to a solid lines every time, and I switch this feature off almost every day. Very annoying to have to reset the same thing day after day, and in multiple products.

    Request for Microsoft team : “Please implement the “I don’t care feature” or the “run as Office 2000” so that we can run with the real basic features that we’ve known and loved for the past 10 years. Office 2003 is a step backwards in terms of productivity in my opinion.

    Here’s another example : A Microsoft employee friend of mine recently commented “Yeah, look at the interfce on ‘Craig’s List’, it sucks”. He was demo’ing the new ASP.NET Ajax toolkit ( a.k.a. widgets ). All very nice but he was missing the point. It’s all too complex. And how many people visit Craig’s List every day ? And why ? Becasue it’s simple. Why is the ipod so successful but the BMW iDrive so hated ?
    Same problem in my opinon. Keep it simple, or allow us to run your products in ‘Basic’, ‘Intermediate’ or ‘Advanced’ mode. Give us the choice.

  • I’m using MS Excel 2003 every single day, and I have to generate various reports that always contains around 30-40 columns and 18000 rows of data every single time. It took like 4-5 minutes to recalculate all the cells, and everytime I open another instance of excel and do any action to the new sheet, the other sheet will be recalculating all the time.

    i.e., I paste some stuff into the new sheet, then excel will pause saying “Calculating: xx%”, after the dreaded long calculation, I changed the font, and pasted another thing into the new sheet… yet another “Calculating: xx%” comes.

    What the heck is wrong with it that it have to recalculate every single step!?

Leave a Reply