Usability Studies, My Butt -- and Office 2007 Installation Woes

If you have worked with Microsoft products to any degree (I have, I was actually a beta tester for Microsoft's BASIC COMPILER back in 1985 - before some current script kiddies were even born) - then you know that Microsoft (and, to be fair, many other vendors) has developed a finely - honed penchant for buzzwords and name-changing. A big ingredient of this seems to be the year (hopefully) that the software was introduced.

I think "Windows 95" was the first one, but I could be mistaken. Followed of course, by Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003, Office 97, Office 2000, Office 2003, and now - (gasp!) - Office 2007. Frankly, with all the issues in the last few years, I wish they'd just learn to drop the year off the names and come out with it WHEN IT'S READY.

I speak with great trepidation, since the RTM is downloading from my MSDN Subscription as I write this. It's taken a long time to get used to some of the nice features of say, Excel 2003 - features that went horribly awry in Office 2007. For example, if I wanted to chart some data, the chart icon was right there, up at the top. All I had to do is select the columns of data (holding down the CTRL key to select multiple columns), hit the chart icon, choose a chart type and bingo! Nice chart. Where is it on Office 2007? Well, I actually did find it recently - you have to choose "Insert" and then it shows up in the choices. Of course, the icon is completely different, turning what used to be a pleasure into a real learning curve and a chore. It's taken me weeks to find the drawing tools so that I can draw crummy support / resistance lines on my stock charts.

How about if you just wanted to undo something? I used to be able to just hit ALT-E-U (Alt -Edit -Undo). Dang! It's not there now. In fact, I haven't been able to find it yet, and I'm probably gonna start using this puppy tonight. All I get is this weirdo semi-transparent popup saying something like "Office Alt-Key combination started - press correct key to continue". Well of course I started an alt-key combination! What the HELL did you do to it? I want it BACK!

Soon, I'll be switching to Windows Vista. I shudder to think about it, because I know they've got new "stuff" in there and some of the "Classic" options that I probably would want simply aren't provided anymore.

This is what "usability studies" do to perfectly good software, folks. So, here's the deal. Can I send you a bill for my loss of productivity while I am re-learning what you've supposedly "improved", moving me from the familiar into the unknown? How about my psychiatrist's bill (he only speaks Portugese)?

Heh. Don't hold your breath.

N.B. Uh Oh! It installed fine on my notebook, which only had Office 2003. The upgrade was flawless. On my "main box", which had Office 2007 Beta, I got a dialog:

"Setup is unable to proceed due to the following error(s):
The 2007 Microsoft Office system does not support upgrading from a prereleased version of the 2007 Microsoft Office system.
You must first uninstall any prerelease versions.
Correct the issue(s) listed above and re-run setup."

This is after I unistalled everything from the Beta, and even used the latest version of the MSICUU.EXE utility to "cleanup" traces, and rebooted.

Here is "one" answer:


If you have Office Web Components installed (even Office 2003) you need to uninstall that first!

Well! I tried that, and I tried using the MSICUU "cleanup" utility to remove all traces of anything with "12" in its name, and it all STILL DOESN'T WORK.

And the Final Score:

Well, the last and final "culprit" was Microsoft Expression Web Designer Beta. Apparently, this uses some "Office 12 Stuff" and had to be removed. Removal wasn't easy, though - there was no Add/Remove Item for it in Control Panel. I had to stumble through the lovely MSI's in Windows\Installer by most recent date order, mousing over each until I found the 2 offenders with the right metadata descriptions.

Then, a right-click and "Uninstall" (or, MSIEXEC /x pathtopackage) and they were gone, and Office 2007 ("12") presented me with a nice "enter your product Id" dialog.
Peter, 1, Betas - ZERO! Yay. It's us against them, man, and we are gonna win!

N.B. Mark Dawson was kind enough to post a comment with a link to Jensen Harris' UI blog about the "helper" links from Office 2007. The comment system blew away the long link, so I'm adding it here: