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'No, we are not rewriting Office in JavaScript' and other Microsoft tales

But no denial that Office is being rewritten VBscript !!!! Let the rumours commence !!!

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Facepalm

Could be worse....

It could have been rewritten in VBA...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Could be worse.... No, VBS is already worst (= least functionality)

VBS < VBA < VB 6

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Joke

Emacs

You are not able to write an OS, a DBMS, or even an Office suite with an scripting language

Does LISP count as a scripting language?

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Angel

Re: Emacs

Shame there's no good text editor though!

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Joke

Re: Emacs

LISP barely counts as a language...

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Trollface

Re: Emacs

I always counted it as one, being quite proud of never having 'coded' in my IT career.

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Trollface

Re: Emacs

Coding is easy

Its the testing thats a bastard

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Re: Emacs

"Its the testing thats a bastard"

And trying to cover all the weird ways users will use(abuse) your software, it's mind-boggling.

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Re: Emacs

"Does LISP count as a scripting language?"

An elisp file reads more like a grimoire than a "script". But the spells undeniably do produce interesting and sometimes useful results.

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Anonymous Coward

Oh dear

> You are not able to write an OS, a DBMS, or even an Office suite with an [sic] scripting language

Sadly, that guy is a perfectly accurate reflection of the general quality of academia in Spain.

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Devil

Re: Emacs

Well that explains why my dusty tome on Lisp Programming starts to weep blood every time I hit a Lambda Expression error.

Now if I can only figure out how to get it to possess the cowboy .net programmer in the office I'll be happy.

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Re: Oh dear

@Anonymous Coward

> You are not able to write an OS, a DBMS, or even an Office suite with an [sic] scripting language

I agree with your other examples but disagree w/ the OS part.

Both examples (JsOs and NodeOS) use a scripting language for userspace only, with the kernel being a modified Linux kernel in both cases.

The issue is that scripting languages do not provide the level of hardware abstraction needed to write an operating system, and they rely on a userspace compiler/interpreter.

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LDS
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"showing Redmond is taking seriously the creeping advance of Apple"

Especially since Windows 10 gave another reason to switch to Apple to many...

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Re: "showing Redmond is taking seriously the creeping advance of Apple"

Believe me, the though has occurred while doing a walk of shame (laptop open while running) because windows decided to update instead of shut down or, you know, ask if I have 20 minutes to spare.

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Mushroom

Re: "showing Redmond is taking seriously the creeping advance of Apple"

I'm working from home today. My Windows 10 machine popped up a feature notification and asked if I wanted to do it now or schedule it for later. So I clicked on the re-schedule button. The notification vanished and that was that. No attempt to ask me when I wanted it done. Then I had to attend a stand up meeting and when I came back(*) my PC was in the middle of the feature update. Well..I say the middle but this was April's BFP (Big F-ing Patch) so it actually took the best part of an hour.

Aside from the idiocy of the timing (just checked and like my office PC this one has 7am to 6pm as busy hours) I'd actually left it running overnight Friday because I knew it was out of date and wanted to give it a chance to run that update while I didn't need the machine for anything.

F-ing Microsoft Update.

(*)I took it in the garden on my phone because it was a nice morning.

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Re: "showing Redmond is taking seriously the creeping advance of Apple"

I have this set for all updates, but due (possibly) to this maybe bricking the machine it gave me a warning that this has to be done during office / working hours

Of course I used this as an opportune time to play with the new DataLogic box that I had delivered

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "showing Redmond is taking seriously the creeping advance of Apple"

> F-ing Microsoft Update.

What I don't understand is why it needs to interrupt the user? My systems (Linux, mostly OpenSUSE) just update whenever. Some of them will let me know that I should reboot at some point when a kernel update has been applied (others don't bother), but that's it.

Then only updates that make it advisable to stop work are distribution upgrades (moving from one major version to the next, obviously this is a user-initiated action) but even that is not enforced. You can carry on working / browsing / whatever while running a zypper dup if you want.

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Anyone else filled with dread at the news Microsoft will include AI and reduce the ribbons. I dislike the ribbon with a passion, but I dread Microsoft trying to guess what I'm doing and limiting the available options accordingly.

It'll be clippy all over again :(

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Re: It'll be clippy all over again

Shudder.

Clippy on Steroids.

Capt'n, she canna take much more.

Or rather, we canna take much more as Microsoft fiddles while Rome burns.

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Anonymous Coward

AI requires an Internet connection

And I suspect a Microsoft account.

Forget about Office 365, offline Office is what we need.

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Re: It'll be clippy all over again

"Clippy on Steroids."

More like Clippy on Laughing Gas. It'll probably be nowhere near as quick, responsive, easily dismissed, or useful as Clippy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It'll be clippy all over again

"Clippy, save the file!"

Clippy: "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."

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Devil

Re: AI requires an Internet connection

"Forget about Office 365, offline Libre Office is what we need."

fixed.

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Trollface

Re: It'll be clippy all over again

"Clippy on Steroids"

"More like Clippy on Laughing Gas"

How about Cortana in Dominatrix garb?

"You've been a bad, *BAD* user!"

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Re: AI requires an Internet connection

"offline Office is what we need."

Like Office Pro Plus 2019?

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Anonymous Coward

Julie Larson-Green

Quote: "...the infamous ribbon being snipped to size..."

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About time....we've had to deal with this c**p since Office 2007. What was wrong with the menus in Word 1.0 (circa 1990)? Actually....nothing at all!

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....except that Microsoft needed an excuse to force millions of people to pay for upgrades to software that was perfectly OK. Enter stage left....Julie Larson-Green and "the ribbon"....the excuse BillG was looking for to drive more licence revenue!

*

Good riddance!

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A rewrite is long overdue...

Honestly, I'd welcome a re-write of Office in JavaScript.

Actually, I'm not telling the whole truth. I'd welcome a re-write of Office, full stop. In almost any language. So long as it's done with modern development techniques, it's got to be an improvement.

Office is ancient software. Deep within its code base lurk odd behaviours and bugs. For proof, look at the OOXML specification's hilarious "autoSpaceLikeWord95" option. Apparently if this option is enabled 'applications must imitate the behavior of that application, which involves many possible behaviors and cannot be faithfully placed into narrative for this Office Open XML Standard.'

Yes, Microsoft themselves can't actually say what the option does. But if you write something that handles OOXML, and encounter this option, you must emulate whatever Word 95 does. Assuming you can find a copy of a 20+ year old program, fire it up, and then test it and determine that behaviour...

(In Microsoft's favour is the fact that this only applies to full-width East Asian glyphs. We should consider ourselves fortunate that there are no large and growing East Asian economies in Microsoft's world...)

My point here is that somewhere, deep in Word, there's still some - probably untouched for decades - layout code from Word 95. (Word 97 presumably changed the way that layout happened to be more unicode friendly...)

Microsoft can't accurately describe what that code does for anyone. They may no longer have anyone employed who knows what it actually does. Yet it's there, and will run under certain circumstances.

Four of the "big five" parts of Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access) date back to at least Windows 3.x. Outlook dates back to Windows 95 (just - came out a little before Windows 98 IIRC). Who knows what horrors lurk in those codebases?

Let's be clear - most of this code is written to ancient standards (if any), and is simply a stability and security millstone around Office's neck.

A re-write is long overdue, to remove this kind of junk.

A few years ago I had given up hope of such a rewrite ever happening. Windows 8 appeared with its Universal Apps, and Office simply got a free pass and a recompile into ARM code for their doomed tablet offering. That wasn't a good sign.

It was, in fact, the normal behaviour. Politically inside Microsoft the Office team is more of a platform team, and has considerable clout. So they historically just ignored whatever they didn't like in the overall strategic decisions of Microsoft.

But they couldn't ignore Google Docs and Sheets, and similar technologies. Web based productivity may have been a joke when it required Java applets, but suddenly it was usable - and being used by customers!

Office 365's web apps gave me back hope. It won't be overnight, but I can see a future in a decade's time where any feature that doesn't work in the web version becomes slowly deprecated. The scripting side for Excel will probably be the hardest hit there...

The idea is simple - use the web version as a stealthy way to drop support for features over time, thus allowing a new "clean room" version of the Office apps to be built in plain sight, without anyone realising it.

Then at some point you simply make the switch over to having the web app - or a desktop version of it in Electron - be the default experience.

If that helps get rid of the cruft in the old Office applications, then I welcome it... it's long overdue.

I really couldn't give two hoots what programming language it uses, so long as the rewrite happens!

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Re: A rewrite is long overdue...

The problem is, as always, the "legacy". There are old documents that may still need to be rendered, using these old incantations, and no update is allowed to break them.

If you want a nasty problem, remember legal documents are still often faxed because the courts have agreed a fax is an acceptable reproduction for legal purposes. A scan and email? Oh, that's not (yet) been deemed legally acceptable in all jurisdictions, so the lawyers just keep faxing on the "better safe than sorry" principle. Now imagine that legal document is a word 95 document?

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Re: A rewrite is long overdue...

"Now imagine that legal document is a word 95 document?"

I am almost positive Word 95 did not support line numbering. IIRC, in the anti-trust case the MS legal team created their documents in WordPerfect and saved them as a Word document.

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Re: A rewrite is long overdue...

@ ExampleOne

The problem is, as always, the "legacy". There are old documents that may still need to be rendered, using these old incantations, and no update is allowed to break them.

I don't disagree.

However, the Office team has a very loose definition of "break". The thing that drives me really crazy when people talk about "needing Office because of compatibility" is that Office isn't actually all that good at its own backwards compatibility.

If you open a document produced in Word 95, it's likely to look different anyway. Heck, I've held printouts in my hand and been looking at the document on screen - and noticed that the text is the same, but Word has interpreted the layout somewhat differently.

It's not an issue that results in data loss, but it's awkward trying to explain to someone why the "reprint" of an archived document has an extra page. Or worse, is "missing" a page!

(Part of this is probably due to printer driver changes over the years...)

I think at some point we have to face the fact that Office, especially Word, is crap at backwards compatibility. Provide those who care with a macro that saves all documents in a folder as .pdf, and move on.

There will be legal issues, as you say. But in those jurisdictions they already have a legal issue due to the current bad behaviour - they just don't know it yet.

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Re: A rewrite is long overdue...

@Ben Trabatere

I am almost positive Word 95 did not support line numbering. IIRC, in the anti-trust case the MS legal team created their documents in WordPerfect and saved them as a Word document.

It wasn't just line numbering - Word failed to meet a number of court requirements for a long time.

In particular its word count didn't count words in footnotes and tables of contents. Courts do. When the court says 10,000 words maximum and your 9998 brief turns out to have 11,346 words in it due to footnotes and Word not being able to count properly, your document gets thrown out by the court.

I think that the first version of Word that fixed the various problems lawyers had was Word 2010. (I could be wrong though.)

It certainly took Microsoft a lot longer than you'd think it should for them to get these things fixed...

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Happy

Re: A rewrite is long overdue...

A scan and an email is not acceptable in all jurisdictions because it is "possible" to intercept that email, make changes to the scanned image and send it onwards to the original destination. In contrast, a fax sends the image line by line over a phone line & short of redirecting the call is much more difficult to intercept, alter & send onwards.

Legally, sending a scanned document via an email to fax product is fine, the scanned image still being transmitted as a fax.

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Gold badge

Re: A rewrite is long overdue...

You may welcome a re-write of office using "modern" techniques, whatever those might be, but unless they accurately reproduce all the behaviours of the old software (which, as you point out, can't even be described by MS, let alone anyone else) it won't be fully backwards compatible.

If your re-write isn't compatible, it has to be sufficiently better than the various free offerings before anyone will be willing to pay for it. So ... how much would it cost to re-write Office from scratch, how many copies would you expect to sell and at what cost, given that LibreOffice already exists, largely does what it says on the tin, and is free? I can't see the business case myself. To be honest, I can't even see a business case for fixing bugs in the current version of Office, since every bug fix runs the risk of breaking someone's document and making them jump ship to LO.

It's not a good time to be Microsoft.

Updated: Apropos of nothing, I had an interesting experience the other day. We created a new WORD document, from scratch, in WORD itself, with nothing more than a few paragraphs and some embedded PNGs. It print previewed fine, but printing either to a real printer or to a PDF garbled the images. We eventually got it to print properly by importing into LibreOffice. Just to emphasise how ridiculous this was, we weren't asking for "backwards compatibility" with anything other than the version of WORD that we had used not 5 minutes earlier to create the blasted document in the first place.

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World of Wonders

@ExampleOne

The problem is, as always, the "legacy". There are old documents that may still need to be rendered, using these old incantations, and no update is allowed to break them.

If you want a nasty problem, remember legal documents are still often faxed because the courts have agreed a fax is an acceptable reproduction for legal purposes. A scan and email? Oh, that's not (yet) been deemed legally acceptable in all jurisdictions, so the lawyers just keep faxing on the "better safe than sorry" principle. Now imagine that legal document is a word 95 document?

I am utterly loath to help Microsoft, or to abet Windows users in any way ( they bring it all on themselves ); but one solution might be to have an installation of [ OLD ] Office to examine the elder documents, and an installation of [ NEWEST ] Office to work their current output.

Running on the same machine !

If Windows operating systems can do that.

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So, let me see

A Technical Manager says they're done rewriting Office 365 in Javascript.

A Spokesperson says they're not rewriting office 365 in Javascript.

Given that the spokesperson is spouting the bullshit he's told to, my vote goes to the rewriting of Office 365 in Javascript.

Now the question is : is that supposed to be a good thing ?

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Re: So, let me see

A Spokesperson says they're not rewriting office 365 in Javascript.

I think you are adding the 365 in the above line. Office 365 web-apps are not Office desktop suite, and are probably distinct code bases, with some code shared in the server component of the application.

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Hooo, sneaky.

Well done pointing that out. So Tech guy is talking about Office 365, and SpokesMouth denies that Office is being rewritten.

Brilliant strawman. Totally got me.

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"So Tech guy is talking about Office 365"

He is talking about the web apps that hardly anyone uses. The vast majority of Office 365 users have a local Office 365 full package install.

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@TheVogon is spot on.

It's clear lots of people here don't use it, because on all licences but one for office 365 you get a full, offline, proper copy of office.

It does not require an internet connection to function.

The odd home user etc might be plugging away on the cheaper online version, but the vast majority of businesses where office is used, are not.

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Anonymous Coward

“the vast majority of businesses where office is used, are not”

You’d be amazed. We were happily running Office 2016 with KMS/MAK keys where appropriate, together with our Office 365 E3 licenses. I mean, a local office install is allowed if you have an E3 license, right ? We assumed it was, until the auditors came.

Apparently that is a big no-no. You HAVE to use the click-to-run version, or pony up for the extra “offline” Office. Which had me revisiting all MS cloudy licensing in a hurry.

So if a part of that vast majority uses E3/E5 licensing, and Volume Licensing, that part probably won’t be using “regular” offline Office. Or if they are, they won’t be for much longer...

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But the click to run is still a proper offline desktop install of the full suite, just fetching it's updates from MS, with it's license requiring a connection to the MS servers every 30 days (IIRC) before dropping into an unlicensed mode. It most certainly is NOT the same as the web-apps.

I've not dug into the details of administrative installs of the C2R versions, but it is possible. It's also possible to download one copy of the C2R and install it in multiple places and switch the user account it's tied to.

I've run an E3 estate, mostly for us we just let users install their own Office copy, and explained where to download it from with instructions that we didn't care if they installed it outside work, so long as they had enough of their installs to cover their work systems.

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Childcatcher

Wittertainment

I love Mark Kermode's rants. I fully expect that any Film from now on that clearly uses MS 'stuff' will get the both barrels of a Kermodian Rant.

Microsoft really need to stop this forced update malarkey. We, by that I mean us mere mortals of the userbase will update when we are good and ready not when you dictate.

Countless hours have been spent sitting idle while our Windows systems update just then we are about to do something important such as presenting a Radio Show or giving a pitch for a £100M contract.

Enough Microsoft! Stop it.

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Re: Wittertainment

My Windows tablet took hardly any time to run the April update.

That was once I'd attached some external storage to give it room to do the job.

When I say hardly any time, I mean it did take some time but not a really long time.

Because on the reboot it decided something was stopping changes to C:/ and then rolled back.

At least I think that's what the error code meant.....

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Re: Wittertainment

I hope that Wittertainment getting a nod on a tech news site doesn't upset Rory Cellan-Jones too much...

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Toolbars

Don't want users wasting time hunting for functions? Give them the tool(bar)s they need to arrange their workspace the way they find it comfortable to use. Also, one sorely missed feature of the days of old: being able to assign macros to custom toolbar buttons.

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Anonymous Coward

Configure Windows 10 to...

update and restart outside of active hours?

Can be done by a GPO on a domain or manually by the user....just saying

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Re: Configure Windows 10 to...

But, on the other hand, we all know that Linux will never be be successful as users have to configure it to their liking instead of using the defaults like they do in Windows

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Re: Configure Windows 10 to...

> update and restart outside of active hours? Can be done by a GPO on a domain or manually by the user....just saying

I had that configured, but I needed to "restart" my PC due to a Windows bug. Apparently restart means update if you urgently need to use your* laptop.

* I kind of regard my spare laptop as Microsoft's, since I only need it less than once a month, it spends all it's time working for Microsoft and not for me.

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Metered internet

Is it still possible to fool Windows into thinking you’re on a metered broadband link? Used to prevent auto updates.

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