Sunday, June 24, 2007


To use Quickbooks payroll, I had to buy Quickbooks 2007. To use Quickbooks 2007, I had to buy Microsoft Office 2007. Now that I have Microsoft Office 2007, I have to buy Quickbooks payroll.

And so it goes. Since Friday, I have mostly been relearning computer programs that I had used without problems for 10 years. In Word 97, for example, I used to close files by clicking on an x in the top right corner. In Word 2007, I have to click on a logo in the top left corner, then click on the Close command.

In Word 97, headers and footers were under the View menu. Not a terribly logical place to put them, but nevertheless I found them and learned how to use them. In Word 2007, headers and footers are under the Insert menu. Not a terribly logical place to put them, and I had to learn to find them all over again.

And, of course, the mail merge interface between Quickbooks and Word no longer works the same way and often doesn't work at all. I spent about three hours on Friday writing subscription renewal letters, a job that normally takes a half-hour or less. I finally got it to work by ignoring the instructions, which were worse than worthless because they provided not just unhelpful information but quite self-evidently bad information that reduced the chances of getting the program to work. One of the bright spots of Quickbooks used to be the thorough and easy-to-follow instructions. That's long gone, and Microsoft instructions retain their perfect record: Never once, in 10 years of using Word, have I ever found a useful piece of information in the Help section. The Help appears to have been designed for some totally unrelated program.

So I am out several hundred bucks, and many hours of lost productivity, paying for stuff I already owned and relearning stuff I already had learned. At the same time, we are still fiddling with the new website, which actually is shaping up a little every day and now can carry breaking news. I spent yesterday afternoon and this morning adding links to the link section. The links are far from complete, and suggestions are welcome.


DOS Master said...

You were using MS Word 97-- a program developed in the early 1990s? Are you serious?

Cheapskates like you deserve to be punished!

[Written in Notepad.]

David said...

Hey, I bought my portable, manual typewriter in 1974, and I've never had to replace it.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the new website. I have but one complaint, however. If you click on the printable story icon, the story comes up in what could best be described as a pop-up window, with no menu bar.

I would prefer that such a link open in the current window or (since I use Firefox as my browser) in another tab (as happens when you click on the printable story on This allows me to use the print preview option in order to keep printing to an even number of pages (I print on both sides of the paper).

Also--I use Word 97 as well. Microsoft hasn't shown me anything in the newer versions worth forking over 99 bucks for the updates. I also use Quicken 2000 for the same reason.

Kirk Dooley, Mesa, AZ

michael said...

Kinda like upgrading to Windows Vista isn't it?

My final opinion of the business version is that it reminded me of the ME Edition of Microsoft's operating systems.

Heavy resources and lots of necessary upgrades to other software products, most of which do NOT play nice.

My advice, KEEP XP and keep on keeping on...Oh and for having to continually upgrade the Office and Finance products...again good luck. I think I will just use what I have thanks :-)

Mark T said...

I'm a long time user of Word and Excel, and upgraded to the 2007 version. I'm pretty savvy about it now, and move around freely. But they haven't improved it any. They just shuffled things, and even added a step or two to many functions. I suspect they feel like they have to do something every now and then or they aren't earning their keep.

I prefer the old version - I'm not afraid of change, but I dare you to find one aspect of either Word or Excel 2007 that is any way an improvement over the old versions.

One thing I have not figured out is how to adjust the defaults so that it goes to my favorite directory when I first click on File/Open. Anyone know how?

David said...

Mark, I don't see anything new in Excel, except, as you note, a couple of things that are more cumbersome than before.

I have found one thing in Word I like better: It now gives the word count at the bottom of the story. Helpful for a guy who writes to fit on deadline pretty often. But that's all I can think of.