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Now that is not the kindest of ways to start off a story, but today, it is what it is.

How did I come to utter this phrase, first to myself, then out loud and now here? Well it all started a few weeks ago when I purchased a Microsoft Office Update. It wasn’t the latest update from what I presently use, though I doubt if that would have mattered.

The long story is that I was still running Microsoft Office X. I’ve been wavering on updating my Microsoft software. Truth is, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to update my Microsoft Office suite ever again. With the advent of the Apple suite of apps for word processing, spreadsheet, presentation software, and email, it gives us Mac users a welcome alternative to choose from. So part of my decision making was not to update my Microsoft products at all or at least until I could no longer open Microsoft files sent by associates or clients.

The only Microsoft app that I really used on a regular basis was Entourage and even with that, I was slowly wondering about using Mail full-time. Then recently, I purchased an unopened copy of Office 2004 at a going out of business sale, thinking “for $20, I can update what I have and at least not be so out of date.” 

Well, for the first week or so after installation, everything went fine. The ‘new’ software worked and I could keep working. Happy. Then one day the dreaded beachball reared it’s colorful ugly little head, and the only part of Office 2004 that would launch and open was Entourage. First it was a minor annoyance that I could work around. As long as Entourage wasn’t complaining I didn’t have to stop what I was working on.

Then, I noticed that some of my other apps starting complaining, by slowing way down or giving me that dreaded beachball. OK, that was it, what had Microsoft Office 2004 done! Word, Powerpoint and Excel 2004 all froze at the same place, “Optimizing font menu…” Entourage would pause here and pass this by. What gives? Parts of the suite likes some of the fonts and parts don’t?

My first attempt at troubleshooting and removing the fonts installed by Office 2004 got me nowhere, remembering that Microsoft, like some other software companies, like to install their fonts in particular locations. Removing fonts from that particular folder, the only thing that changed was the interface look of Entourage. Hmm, don’t want to mess with that, it’s the only one working. 

The problems persisted, so I started digging in the main directory of fonts. Viewing from the Finder and with Font Book, low and behold a sea of corrupt and outdated fonts all installed by…. Microsoft Office 2004.

Using Font Book to validate all the fonts, it would indicate corrupt or cautionary fonts, and indicate which ones I could safely turn off. Some fonts that you think you can turn off or remove are being used by the OS. Once I removed this sea of 90 or so fonts Word, Powerpoint and Excel 2004 all launched and opened without incident. 

So, my question then becomes, “How is it that a software program actually installs the fonts that take it down?”

Speaking from time lost and scale of aggravation “Sometimes I just hate Microsoft.”


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11 Responses to Sometimes I Just Hate…

  1. Chita – You might try working with the Apple apps for files that would otherwise be MS just to see how things behave.
    Numbers (which I don’t use much) opens Excel files (as does MarinerCalc also – an inexpensive ss app.).
    Pages opens .doc files, and will export to some apparently generic “Word” format, if needed. Then there’s always the trusty, indispensible pdf.
    Keynote exports to ppt, and imports same.
    And did you know: iPhoto “books” can be saved as QT slide shows. (not a MS thing, but wonders never cease.)

    These things are pretty common knowledge, but my experience is based on the fact that I’ve NEVER had the MS Suite or any part of it in my 18 years on a Mac (other than Explorer years ago). Whenever I get email attachments, or download files, in any of the MS formats, they always open in a Mac app.

  2. Chita says:

    Mary Jo, I am aware of the Apple apps and what they do and though I’ve managed to get by with not updating as often on the MS side, not having it installed at all is presently not realistic for my world and what I do.
    Its the unreasonable experience that had me irritated.

  3. Just responding to your comments re “Apple Suite of apps.” Thought it might help to know the Apple “substitutes” are doing the job.

    Understand the need for MS apps if your contacts & work require them.

  4. Yacko says:

    No mention of what computer you are using. PPC or Intel? On PPC Office 2004 makes sense, but on Intel you will be using Rosetta, and while I have never had a problem, the JIT code translation can add complications, plus you lose speed. Office 2007 is a universal binary.

  5. chaimk says:

    BTW, I’ve been managing just fine using Bean for light-duty word processing, Mail & iCal under Snow Leopard for managing both my Exchange account and my IMAP email accounts, and NeoOffice when I need fairly high-quality MS Office emulation.

    My work provides me with MS Office for free and I really almost never use it since it tends to drag down the performance of my computer. With Bean and NeoOffice I can save documents in MS Office formats and the recipients are none the wiser…

  6. Patrick says:

    “it’s colorful ugly little head” should be:
    “its colorful ugly little head”.

  7. Donna says:

    I have been using NeoOffice for several years, mainly for excel files, which I always save back in the older Word format. I had Office X before that and still have and use on all the computers except the one I had to reformat. Since I couldn’t find my key, I went to NeoOffice on that computer and I have had no problem opening any kind of Office files since, including Powerpoint. Have you tried NeoOffice?

  8. Dru Richman says:

    Chita – Office, like many other programs (including all of the Creative Suite by Adobe), loads all fonts into RAM when they open. Depending on how many fonts you have loaded into your Fonts folder will determine how long MS has to optimize fonts. [In my case, running a G5 with 2.5 GB RAM and OS X 10.5.8 AND over 800 fonts in my Font folder, it takes approximately 20-30 seconds to open Word 2004 or Excel 2008.

    The good news is I’ve weaned myself off of Office and have completely migrated all my text editing, page layout, spreadsheets, and presentations to the iWork suite of applications. No problems with fonts and no problems importing or exporting to Office.

  9. Ed says:

    Hey Chita-

    This was, err, a common problem with 2004. I had it occur on both systems I installed the suite on, so I Googled the issue, found that it was common and that the simple solution was to clean out my font caches.

    So it was an aggravating issue, agreed-but in the time you cranked out this article, you coulda had it fixed.


  10. Ed says:

    I should add–I can’t be certain this is the issue you had, of course, but I’m willing to bet that for millions of other Mac Office users, Microsoft doesn’t ‘install fonts that take it down.’ Kind of an inductive leap, don’t you think? You can’t just extrapolate from a single point of data like that.

    Oh, wait, this the Internet. I guess you can.

  11. Chita says:

    Ed, glad that simple solution worked for you.