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Microsoft Businesses Apple

Microsoft drops VBA in Mac Office 2007 374

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the seems-more-secure-that-way dept.
slashdotwriter writes "Macworld features an article stating that the next version of Office for the Mac will not include Visual Basic scripting. From the article: 'Microsoft Office isn't among the apps that will run natively on Intel-based Macs — and it won't be until the latter half of 2007, according to media reports. But when it does ship, Office will apparently be missing a feature so vital to cross-platform compatibility that I believe it will be the beginning of the end for the Mac version of the productivity suite...'"
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Microsoft drops VBA in Mac Office 2007

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  • Re:QUICK!!! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ford Prefect (8777) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @11:31AM (#17184464) Homepage
    *TYPEY-TYPEY-TYPE*

    Ta-daaa! [neooffice.org]
  • Re:QUICK!!! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ford Prefect (8777) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @11:43AM (#17184560) Homepage
    Everyone, pool your mod points and give 'em to this guy. I always found it ridiculous that OpenOffice has to run on an X session, it always seemed like a horrible kludge to me, especially getting printing to work.

    Conversely, I got modded down for linking to NeoOffice [neooffice.org], which is... "based on the OpenOffice.org 2.0.3 code and includes all of the new OpenOffice.org 2.0.3 features".

    It's very much a Mac program. Native fonts, copy-and-paste, printing, Aqua interface... Have a look. [planamesa.com]
  • by lgw4 (2274) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @11:50AM (#17184628) Homepage
    This is old news -- it showed up on a MS developer blog a couple of months back.

    The interesting part is that VBA is not fully supported on the 64-bit Office for Windows, and is in fact depricated, which traditionally means that no further imporovements will be made and further use is discouraged.

    Don't believe me? Go search Microsoft's Office site.

  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Sunday December 10, 2006 @11:55AM (#17184666)
    First of all, this news is over fives months old, and has been widely covered and known about since then. MacBU's Erik Schwiebert has a very detailed post [schwieb.com] and followup [schwieb.com] (also mentioned in the article) about exactly why Microsoft is dropping Visual Basic in Mac Office. The bottom line is that it was a difficult decision, and anyone who reads the posts will be able to understand why the decision was made.

    The people at Microsoft who work within MacBU really do care, and really do take pride in their work. But overall, Microsoft seems to be making moves - decisions not made within MacBU, or decisions forced on MacBU because of resource allocations - that are strategically designed to hurt the Macintosh platform, but not appear to be doing anything overtly.

    Examples:

    - Killing Mac IE the day Safari was introduced even though Mac IE 6 was well underway and had been in development for over a year and was about to hit beta.

    - Never releasing Access, Project, or Visio for the Mac platform even though enterprises (particularly academic institutions) have been increasingly demanding it for years. Microsoft's response? "Our customers don't want these products."

    - Killing Windows Media Player for Mac, and making it look like going with the Flip4Mac QuickTime Windows Media codec is doing Mac users a favor, when Flip4Mac will never support Windows Media DRM, which Microsoft views as key to their future Windows Media strategy, leaving Macs unsupported (whether DRM is a good or bad thing is irrelevant to this point).

    - Killing Virtual PC for the Mac when the Intel transition was announced after initially committing to support it, even though Microsoft was probably in one of the best positions to quickly release a virtual machine version of Virtual PC (can you imagine Connectix killing Virtual PC after the Intel transition was announced? They'd be jumping for joy!), and then subsequently making Virtual PC free (on Windows).

    - Killing Visual Basic in Mac Office, which will make it DOA in many enterprise/corporate environments whose documents depend on VB scripting.

    I could go on and on. These are all expert strategic moves, not by MacBU but by Microsoft at large, designed to hurt the Macintosh platform as much as possible while still appearing to be "friendly" to the platform (by continuing to release Office).

    Fortunately, with Boot Camp, Parallels Desktop, and the forthcoming VMWare Fusion, new Mac users are feeling increasingly comfortable with Mac purchases, because they know that they can run Windows if they really need to, but often find they don't need it as much as they thought they did. For many, it's a security blanket to get them over the hump, and for others it does enable them to run those Windows (or other x86 OS) applications they need or want to smoothly and efficiently. In many academic/research enterprise environments, many people can't see a reason to get anything OTHER than Mac hardware now (especially for laptops), as it can essentially run anything. And in an environment where an institutions own IT capability will "support" things like Boot Camp usage, it's not a difficult decision to make.

    Microsoft's maneuvering will ultimately be futile. Windows "won" the "desktop war" long ago. But now, as with Firefox, people are realizing that there are real, viable alternatives that might actually be better than the status quo.
  • by GalionTheElf (515869) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @12:04PM (#17184714) Homepage
    Actually the situation regarding vista and vm's is rather different than you put it. It is only one of the cheapest versions which has an EULA clause (i.e. it'll work but be "illegal") preventing you from running it as a VM.
  • emulation (Score:3, Informative)

    by fermion (181285) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @12:05PM (#17184720) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if this is an economy push ay MS. Any reasonable size firm already has a site license to MS Windows and MS Office. Parallels is no great expense. In the end it is probably better for MS to get money for and OS and MS Office rather than just the later.

    This is also part of a trend to limit solutions available on the Mac platform. Over the past 10 years, the products that MS sells for the mac has shrunk. In particular, they buy cross platform products and kill them on the Mac Platform. Virtual PC and Foxpro are two examples. Connectix would have create a version for the Intel Mac. I believe the only reason we have MS Office for the Mac is because MS Office is a mac product, and was only ported to MS Windows.

    It is becoming more clear that the casual user should use OO.org

  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Sunday December 10, 2006 @12:06PM (#17184736)

    Maybe nobody remembers, but back when Steve Jobs first announced the Intel switch, he also announced a 5-year agreement with Microsoft where MS committed to continuing to release Office for the Mac. Surely Apple's lawyers weren't stupid enough to let MS kneecap the product (which is exactly what it's done) and get away with it, right?

    Not to mention that those "expert strategic moves" you mention are also "illegal anticompetitive moves" when carried out by a monopoly convicted of abusing its position, such as Microsoft.

  • by I'm Don Giovanni (598558) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @12:13PM (#17184794)
    I think this sucks.
    Note that this was reported months ago, August 7, 2006, to be exact.
    Microsoft kills VirtualPC, VB for Mac [macnn.com]

    Here's the arstechnica.com forum discussion about it (started on August 7, 2006), with lots of pissed off users:
    MS Killing VB in Next Version of Office for Mac [arstechnica.com]

    Here are two blogs (Aug 8 and 9) by MacBU devs Erik Schwiebert and Rick Schaut, trying to explain this decision.
    Erik Schwiebert - Saying goodbye to Visual Basic [schwieb.com]
    Rick Schaut - Virtual PC and Visual Basic [msdn.com]
  • by 644bd346996 (1012333) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @12:18PM (#17184850)
    I think you have underestimated how much of a productivity boon Automator can be. It is not really tied in with any office-type apps, but it is an alternative to xcode for end users.
  • Re:bah! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 10, 2006 @12:23PM (#17184888)
    fork over the $80 and use keynote. it is vastly superior to powerpoint, both in terms of ease of creation and in final output quality.
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @12:25PM (#17184920) Journal
    X applications do not use the native widgets. For things like buttons, this just means they look wrong. For things like text boxes, it usually means that the shortcut keys for navigating are wrong. If this doesn't bother you, it's probably because you use a platform where these things don't have standard behaviours.

    On top of that, the menu bar is in the wrong place. Most Macs these days are laptops, and a top-of-the-screen menu bar is much easier to hit with a trackpad than a window-attached one. It also wastes less screen real-estate, which is quite precious on a laptop.

    Drag and drop don't work properly with X11 applications. Even if Apple did integrate XDND with native drag and drop, most X11 application developers don't really make use of it. I can drag a link from Safari into my terminal and have the URL appear. I can drag the icon from the title bar of a document window into an email, and have it become an attachment.

    X11 applications don't have access to text services (unless they use GNUstep, and then they should just be linked against Cocoa, instead of run in X11). In a normal rich text box, I can select some text, hit a shortcut key, and have it typeset using LaTeX and inserted as a PDF (great for equations in presentations), or have it evaluated as a mathematical expression, or have the words counted, etc.

    All the shortcut keys are wrong in X11 applications. Most X11 developers these days use control or alt, instead of meta, and so motor memory doesn't work for common operations.

  • Re:QUICK!!! (Score:3, Informative)

    by damiangerous (218679) <1ndt7174ekq80001@sneakemail.com> on Sunday December 10, 2006 @12:32PM (#17184968)
    Yes, a version of StarBASIC. There is also a scripting framework that supports other languages and provides an API for developers to add more.
  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @12:45PM (#17185060)
    I use windows and debian linux myself. I am sick to death of msft's bullsh!t, and I have switched entirely to ODF.

    As you may know, there is an ms-office plugin for ODF, but there is not a way to read ms-office-2007 file formats on Mac. And there will not be a way until, at least, late march.

    Just wondering what you guys think.
  • Re:iWork '07 (Score:5, Informative)

    by iotaborg (167569) <exa@COUGARsofthome.net minus cat> on Sunday December 10, 2006 @12:47PM (#17185080) Homepage
    If you'd like to try, OmniGraffle [omnigroup.com] already makes Visio look clunky, and has for years.
  • by KoldKompress (1034414) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @01:50PM (#17185580)

    VBA is something the world should be able to live without.
    Not really.VBA is used in a big way in the department (Planning) of the IT company I work in. A lot of automation takes place and provides a nice and easy "Click here" GUI for users who don't know how to string a SQL together.
    VBA is quite powerful within Office and can be used to make great bespoke software solutions. Loosing that functionality could be quite risky for Microsoft.
    Not that it's a problem, of course. Businesses don't often leap into new technology. We've just completed a migration of 120,000 NT workstations to XP for a government branch in the UK, just as Vista is released and Microsoft Office 2007.
  • Re:Let's Be Honest (Score:3, Informative)

    by vought (160908) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @02:05PM (#17185696)
    Maintaining legacy support it very difficult from version to version, and this is such a low priority I can't see anything being done in the future.

    Written like a true corporate I.T. coward with little understanding of the big picture and less understanding of what his customers (the users) actually need to accomplish their jobs

    See my post above [slashdot.org] for why this is a big deal. Dropping support for this feature is just one more step on a long march to kill off anything that's not a secretary's tool for Windows in the corporate space.
  • Yes! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @02:16PM (#17185792) Homepage Journal
    Can it import PowerPoint documents? There is nothing worse than migrating to a "vastly superior" product only not to support the most used format in the office place.

    Went and found myself a trial version and it looks like the answer is yes. I would imagine this is one of the making MS wonder whether there is any need to continue their effort.
  • by 644bd346996 (1012333) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @02:27PM (#17185890)
    It is not the window manager that decides where the menu goes. If you haven't noticed, apple did write a great rootles window manager to make window decorations fit in with aqua. The problem is that the application, or its GUI libraries, decide what should be inside the window. Getting GNOME or KDE apps to blend in would require a major port of the underlying libraries, and apple hasn't bothered to do that yet. There really aren't many good toolkits that support drastically different look-and-feel modes. GNUStep is one of the few toolkits that can easily be switched from one menu style to another, and it currently does a bad job of integrating with other Linux desktops.
  • by jZnat (793348) * on Sunday December 10, 2006 @02:47PM (#17186074) Homepage Journal
    KDE's kwin does, but it's somewhat of a hack (in my experience/opinion) if it was supposed to be like Mac OS X's application bar.
  • by Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @03:05PM (#17186184)
    I have seen once or twice a VBA script in an Excel document and the fact that it was utterly bad scripting made me aware that you don't let bookkeepers create scripts but you should have real programmers take care of that.

    Sorry, but I'm not going to hire a consultant every time one of my end users wants to build a simple database to sort vendor contacts. Nor am I going to bog down the programmers on staff with spreadsheet macros for HR.
  • by Aurisor (932566) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @03:16PM (#17186274) Homepage
    Hey, guys....I read through the developer's blog. There's a section in there which he tells non-programmers to skip, where he goes through the gritty details of why porting VBA is impossible. Here's a quick summary if you can't seem to sift through the tech-speak but still want to know what's going on.

    First of all, a lot of the code that actually comprehends the VB programming language is actually tangled up in the GUI code. Second, the code has huge blocks of code that are written in processor-specific assembly. That means that they either have to fundamentally redesign the entire product or maintain separate versions for all of the different processors they support (32-bit PPC, 32-bit x86, 64-bit x86). Third, he rules out the possibility of porting the windows version of VBA over to the mac because the damn thing actually makes assumptions about how the actual .exe file is formatted. Finally, the author kinda passes blame along, saying he just inherited the whole program from his predecessors, who no longer work at Microsoft.

    When I first read the article, I thought it stunk to high heaven of Microsoft trying to gimp Apple. I still believe this is going to be a huge headache for Apple users who rely on extensive cross-compatibility, but unless that blog is a large-scale, deliberate, malicious fabrication, VBA is really an ungodly mess of an application.

    Who would have guessed?
  • by JoeCommodore (567479) <larry@portcommodore.com> on Sunday December 10, 2006 @03:35PM (#17186404) Homepage
    For the most part on these things it's not us (Mac users) that have a problem with having a feature missing it usually comes down to soneone from the outside not accepting the fact that we cannot use thier stuff because we do not have that feature. If mac BU want to make headway they do not need to talk to Mac users about how to handle the loss of VB in Office but consult with the WINDOWS Office unit on how to handle that other CURRENT versions of Office will not have VB support. THAT is where a lot of the problems and friction eminate.
  • by david.emery (127135) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @03:37PM (#17186428)
    So with Mac Office fatally crippled (Most documents I get these days have macros in them. I have no clue why, but I get the anti-virus warning when I open them), I'll be forced to go to something that can open that crap.

    With Parallels or BootCamp, I -can- run Windows and Windows Office on my Mac. But at what cost??? Dell pays peanuts for Windows/Office on each machine it ships. Me, I'll have to buy retail. Office XP Pro costs $300 (I just priced it out for -this very reason-.) That'a an appalling amount of money for (bad) software. Office on Windows retail probably costs a similar amount. Corporate IT tells me "Oh, we -never- buy software from Microsoft. We always get our machines equipped by the OE(hardware)M."

    Good strategy if you're a Microsoft stockholder.

    But the previous comments about the antitrust "oversight" of Microsoft applies here, and I find Office a much more insidious monopoly than Windows ever was...

              dave
  • by Mattintosh (758112) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @03:38PM (#17186436)
    Umm... Crossover Mac states that Office versions 2000 and XP (2002) are "supported" but not recommended, while Office 2003 is fully supported.

    It even shows a warning in the installer dialog when you choose to install the older versions of Office. It says something about how they're supported, but that there are usually glitches with those versions. I've not seen a glitch yet, though, and I use Office 2000. Rarely.
  • by phcrack (207416) <adam.stfu@ca> on Sunday December 10, 2006 @03:39PM (#17186454) Homepage Journal
    You can do this in KDE, it just doesn't look as pretty.

    http://docs.kde.org/stable/en/kdebase/kcontrol/des ktopbehavior/index.html [kde.org]

    Look for "Menu Bar at Top of Screen"
  • Re:Fix java first (Score:3, Informative)

    by jrockway (229604) <jon-nospam@jrock.us> on Sunday December 10, 2006 @06:58PM (#17187788) Homepage Journal
    He meant, "if you think NeoOffice is slow, Eclipse is even slower".

    That said, gcj can compile Eclipse to native code, in which case it's pretty fast.
  • by shmlco (594907) on Monday December 11, 2006 @04:39AM (#17191924) Homepage
    Finally, IIRC, you can't easily open a control panel and change "Control-W" from "Close Window" to "backwards-kill-word" like you can in KDE and GNOME. Apple has a lot of fanbois ... but when it comes right down to having a usable computing environment...

    Go to "System Prferences -> Keyboard & Mouse -> Keyboard Shortcuts", and you can add or redefine any application's keyboard shortcuts. I mean, just in case you're on a Mac sometime and want a "usable computing environment".

    And it would appear that Apple isn't the only system with fanbois...
  • by JonJ (907502) <jon.jahren@gmail.com> on Monday December 11, 2006 @07:47AM (#17192740)
    The themeing and look isn't determined by the application, but the windowmanager/desktop environment. Meaning that if you write an app for KDE, KDE will determine how the app looks.
    Same thing if you write for OSX' carbon or cocoa, or whatever the hell it's called.

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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