Office 2013: A Second Opinion

Mark Canes

In a guest post on this blog, David Silva shared his impressions of moving to Office 2013. I recently went through the process of upgrading to both Windows 8 and Office 2013. After two weeks I had to move back to Windows 7 (but that's a discussion for a different day). At the same time I took the opportunity to revert to Office 2010.

Why did I do that? Is Office 2013 so bad / ugly / undesirable? The answer for me is a little bit "yes" and a little bit "no". I do find the look and feel disconcerting - it's flat, and somewhat retro, and clearly designed with tablets and full screen in mind. I'm still using a laptop as a desktop replacement (and an iPad for mobility), so this dinosaur struggled to discern the overlapping windowed Office 2013 apps on my large second monitor - a consequence of the flattened look. Plus, to me it just looks ugly.

However, that's not why I went back to 2010. We're generally creatures of habit, but that can work two ways. If I'd been willing to persevere with Office 2013 for another 3 or 4 weeks, no doubt it would have become the habit I was accustomed to. No, my reason was simply that several areas of basic functionality in Outlook, that I've relied on daily for the last 6 years are no longer available in Outlook 2013.


The above Outlook 2010 screen  shows two of these "lost" capabilities. In the To-Do Bar I have a 3 months calendar, then my next 4 meetings (irrespective of date). In Outlook 2013 (so far) you cannot show more than one month at a time in this To-Do section, and it only shows the appointments for one day at a time - so if there is one appointments for today, and 2 tomorrow, I have to click on tomorrow's date to see those 2, but then I no longer see today's appointment. I also frequently drag and drop an email onto a date in the current or next month on this pane to create an appointment - cannot do that in 2013. (Yes, there is a different way to do this in 2013, but it's more work and way less intuitive).

It drives users crazy when a new version actually costs you time and productivity due to lost features. (I've always fought tooth and nail to ensure that doesn't happen with the Inventory and Accounting Software that my employer develops.)

I suspect that Microsoft will reinstate some of the lost functionality in updates and service releases, but for now I'm perfectly happy to be back in 2010. It makes me feel 3 years younger!