Why is Excel 2016 for Mac so bad?

I'm wondering what people think - Excel 2016 for Mac seems to be so bad that it must be intentional. Am I wrong? Is Microsoft still waging a low-grade war on Mac users by making their products subtly awful on a Mac? Is it just that they have really bad developers? Is it that the developers are good but the management somehow makes them do terrible work? Is it that whoever is in charge of designing Excel for Mac has an ex who uses it for his/her job and this person has devoted his/her life to making his/her ex's life bad in confusing ways? Has a nefarious actor infiltrated Microsoft in order to make their products just bad enough that companies will continue to use them but their awfulness will create a small long-term drag on the US economy? Answers would be appreciated. Thanks!
 

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Last updated September 24, 2018 Views 4,573 Applies to:

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What is the current version of Office 2016 / Excel 2016 you are running ? Try installing all the updates and check the status. 

Well, I love the conspiracy theories you have postulated. I suspect the problems are the result of much more mundane realities. What follows is my own private conjecture about the situation.

MVPs get to meet the Microsoft Office for Mac team occasionally, along with the Office for Windows teams. Size matters. There are thousands of Office for Windows employees and a relative handful of Office for Mac employees. I think the #1 core problem is there simply aren't enough programmers and program managers at Microsoft who know how to write code for Macs. The door is always open. They ask us to encourage anyone who wants to work for the Office for Mac team to apply to Microsoft. There is a world-wide shortage of programmers in general, and there's a critical shortage of programmers who know how to program on the Mac. Finding and keeping (especially keeping) programmers and good managers seems to me to be the #1 problem.

Then there's the general opinion that the web and mobile devices rule and the desktop is dead. No one wants to program for desktop applications any more. iOS and Android is where the action is. You would think Windows Phone would be attractive to developers who know Windows, but not so much.

Email is considered a dinosaur. Who wants to have on their resume they helped write Microsoft Outlook? Sure, it's used by millions of people every day, but text messages are the rule today.

I can't rank #2 #3 #4, etc. There are just some other factors that seem to come into play.

* Mac OS. It changes like the wind. Trying to keep Office running on each and every update that comes down the pike is a huge problem. Sometimes I think Apple deliberately messes with Mac OS to screw Microsoft. For example, the next item in my list...

* Sandboxing. Microsoft adopted sandboxing to keep Office for Mac "Mac-like" and because Apple won't let Microsoft sell Microsoft Office in the App store unless Microsoft goes along with Sandboxing. Sandboxing crippled Microsoft Office. If I were looking for criminal behavior of a monopolist, I'd be going after Apple about sandboxing and their strong-arm tactics about getting apps into the App store.

* Cost containment. In a sense, maintaining Office for Mac and Office for Windows is duplication. You have to invent everything twice. Since Office for Mac sales are less than Office for Windows, Microsoft is keen on keeping the cost as low as possible. This, combined with not enough staff, is a big problem. Expensive to make features that don't get a lot of use are left out of Office for Mac. For example, Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) is very limited on the Mac. 

Which results in a very weak version of Excel for Mac. I consider it to be only about 1/3 done. If and when the promised Visual Basic Editor ever comes along, then I'll consider it to be 2/3 of the way. When the missing SQL and data components finally make their way to the Mac, then I'll say it's complete.

I am an unpaid volunteer and do not work for Microsoft. "Independent Advisors" work for contractors hired by Microsoft. "Microsoft Agents" work for Microsoft Support.

It's a terrible sham and scam of a product. 

I'm fully up to date on all apps and I even have three Office Business Essentials accounts. 

You can't use third party add-ins on Excel. Plenty of buggy mouse and font problems on Excel too. Try to write auto text headers and footers on Excel, that's a lot of fun, not. Word also has a whole host of problems. Outlook is limited when compared with the PC version. 

How can you sell something for over one hundred pounds sterling that is so utterly crap?

Hi,

This post was created last August 28, 2016. There has been a lot of changes happened since then and the resolution provided here may not be applicable anymore. We recommend that you create your own thread regarding your concern for better assistance from our Community.

Regards.

Hi Remon,

I would like to resist closing this thread.

The reason being we are now almost twelve months down the line, all of us with the very latest Mac version of the software, and it is STILL so very very bad. 

There is clearly no resolution and the fact that this thread "Why is Excel 2016 for Mac so bad?" is still highly relevant nearly twelve months later is a sad indictment of Microsoft's commitment to the Mac platform.

I would therefore like to keep the thread open and as publicly available as possible. 

Hopefully Mac people will read this thread before making a purchase. 

Many thanks,

The Mactrician. 

Well, I love the conspiracy theories you have postulated. I suspect the problems are the result of much more mundane realities. What follows is my own private conjecture about the situation.

MVPs get to meet the Microsoft Office for Mac team occasionally, along with the Office for Windows teams. Size matters. There are thousands of Office for Windows employees and a relative handful of Office for Mac employees. I think the #1 core problem is there simply aren't enough programmers and program managers at Microsoft who know how to write code for Macs. The door is always open. They ask us to encourage anyone who wants to work for the Office for Mac team to apply to Microsoft. There is a world-wide shortage of programmers in general, and there's a critical shortage of programmers who know how to program on the Mac. Finding and keeping (especially keeping) programmers and good managers seems to me to be the #1 problem.

Then there's the general opinion that the web and mobile devices rule and the desktop is dead. No one wants to program for desktop applications any more. iOS and Android is where the action is. You would think Windows Phone would be attractive to developers who know Windows, but not so much.

Email is considered a dinosaur. Who wants to have on their resume they helped write Microsoft Outlook? Sure, it's used by millions of people every day, but text messages are the rule today.

I can't rank #2 #3 #4, etc. There are just some other factors that seem to come into play.

* Mac OS. It changes like the wind. Trying to keep Office running on each and every update that comes down the pike is a huge problem. Sometimes I think Apple deliberately messes with Mac OS to screw Microsoft. For example, the next item in my list...

* Sandboxing. Microsoft adopted sandboxing to keep Office for Mac "Mac-like" and because Apple won't let Microsoft sell Microsoft Office in the App store unless Microsoft goes along with Sandboxing. Sandboxing crippled Microsoft Office. If I were looking for criminal behavior of a monopolist, I'd be going after Apple about sandboxing and their strong-arm tactics about getting apps into the App store.

* Cost containment. In a sense, maintaining Office for Mac and Office for Windows is duplication. You have to invent everything twice. Since Office for Mac sales are less than Office for Windows, Microsoft is keen on keeping the cost as low as possible. This, combined with not enough staff, is a big problem. Expensive to make features that don't get a lot of use are left out of Office for Mac. For example, Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) is very limited on the Mac. 

Which results in a very weak version of Excel for Mac. I consider it to be only about 1/3 done. If and when the promised Visual Basic Editor ever comes along, then I'll consider it to be 2/3 of the way. When the missing SQL and data components finally make their way to the Mac, then I'll say it's complete.

 I am shocked you have become a Microsoft  Apologist.

Microsoft should get out of the notion to compartmentalize customers. customers are customers, are customers Period. I would express my opinion but I've been warned if I express my opinion one more time I may be banned from the forums.

_________

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The questions, discussions, opinions, replies & answers I create, are solely mine and mine alone and do not reflect upon my position as a Community Moderator.

If my reply has helped, mark accordingly - Helpful or Answer
Phillip M. Jones, C.E.T.

It's a terrible sham and scam of a product. 

I'm fully up to date on all apps and I even have three Office Business Essentials accounts. 

You can't use third party add-ins on Excel. Plenty of buggy mouse and font problems on Excel too. Try to write auto text headers and footers on Excel, that's a lot of fun, not. Word also has a whole host of problems. Outlook is limited when compared with the PC version. 

How can you sell something for over one hundred pounds sterling that is so utterly crap?

Hi Mactrician,

Let's start with the last comment, first. I don't sell Microsoft Office. I don't make Microsoft Office. I don't work for Microsoft.

Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Mac support third-party add-ins using:

  • Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)
  • Excel 4 macro language (you don't come across these very much anymore, but they still work)
  • AppleScript
  • JavaScript

Add-ins must be constructed to be cross-platform, particularly regarding files and Apple-mandated sandboxing. Office for Mac 2016 is 64-bit only. Add-ins made for 32-bit Office must be updated first.

I moderate the Excel forum daily, and I can't say that I've noticed many complaints of mouse problems with Excel. If you're having problem with your mouse/mice, please ask a new question in the Q&A forum being sure to describe exactly your hardware setup as well as versions of Mac OS and Office that are involved. This sounds likely to be a hardware/RAM/Graphics card issue that will involve your specific setup.

I have seen reports of trouble with certain versions of Times New Roman and some foreign language fonts. To the best of my knowledge these are unresolved, but you can search the Q&A forum for the latest postings.

Since my previous comments, Microsoft has been building a new Visual Basic Editor for the Mac. My hope is that it will appear at least in Insider Fast builds within the next few months. Microsoft has added many missing features to Office for Mac, but there is still more work to do.

I am an unpaid volunteer and do not work for Microsoft. "Independent Advisors" work for contractors hired by Microsoft. "Microsoft Agents" work for Microsoft Support.
LOL. Yep, June 2017 and it's still super bad. I'm going with all of the above for the reasoning behind this. There's not really any other answer! I am currently doing 90% of my work on my new mac, and then having to finish each spreadsheet on my 10 year old PC because, even though it is as slow as molasses, all the features in Excel work. Sure is fun.

Microsoft is on a path to have all Office platforms use a single code base. It's been a long, slow trek, with the goal still far off in the distance.

To the best of my knowledge, all of the features that are in Excel 2016 do work. The problem I find is that not all of the features of Excel for Windows are in Excel 2016 for Mac.

I am an unpaid volunteer and do not work for Microsoft. "Independent Advisors" work for contractors hired by Microsoft. "Microsoft Agents" work for Microsoft Support.

To the best of my knowledge, all of the features that are in Excel 2016 do work. The problem I find is that not all of the features of Excel for Windows are in Excel 2016 for Mac.

In my humble opinion, you cannot seriously be a Mac-user, are you? All features that are in Excel 2016 work? That might be true in a literal sense, but HOW they work, HOW LONG they need to do their job and if their results are reproducible (now talking about Word) seems COMPLETELY random and far off from being mature!

I do agree with the previous posters that this product is NOWHERE close to being worth the money they ask for it! We pay it, because we HAVE TO, because we simply cannot use any of the great, functioning softwares that in fact are out there, just because MS Office still (and probably will be for ever) a de facto standard, bad as it may be. 

I also deeply disagree with your judgment that "the problem [...] is that not all of the features of Excel for Windows are in Excel 2016 for Mac". Please, please, please, Microsoft, do not even try to put more features into the poor Mac Office suite, before you have not figured out how to write decent software for this platform! Office already has too many features, that I feel MS developers simply have lost control over (not even on Windows")!

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