Excel Beta 2010

I’ve got Excel 2010 Beta installed on my PC at work, partly to play around with it, partly because I need something to do all the myriad spreadsheets I’m required to do.

As before, Excel 2010 allows you to open multiple workbooks with that maddeningly weird pseudo-MDI interface that is always a little jarring. I know the point of the taskbar shortcuts, and I know how they’re implementing it. Doing so changes the taskbar from a window management tool to a document management tool—albeit incompletely because the same doesn’t apply to sub-documents on non-Microsoft applications. In the end, it’s just an irritating adjustment from a working mental model to a broken one.

But that’s not actually the stupid part. No, the stupid part is that there’s a single, global undo history. Yes, that’s right, all your documents share undo history. In practice, this means you can usefully edit one spreadsheet at a time. It assumes that your life is a single stream of changes, and you want to rewind that life to a particular indistinct place in time. In my own usage, that isn’t the case. My life is a series of parallel streams of changes, and I want (read: need) the ability to rewind any one of them to any given point in time, and Excel has apparently broken this on purpose—at least, I don’t remember this madness from 2007.

It’s hard to talk about this without also discussing the Ribbon, and why the situations are different. Non-geeks who got used to muscle-memory-ing1 through the old Excel were upset with the Ribbon, because it meant that their carefully crafted training was useless—it’s like being switched to Dvorak. I personally like the Ribbon, because it let someone like myself, who’d never used Excel for anything before 2007, learn and use the tool. You break how people find features, more people can find features.

But this isn’t the case with breaking how a particular feature works. IMO, that’s just dumb.

  1. it’s a word because I say so.

5 thoughts on “Excel Beta 2010

  1. Try running separate instances of excel.exe – i.e. don’t click on xls files, but run Excel and then Open.

  2. LOL…
    …and good words about the Ribbon. It’s what i find the one respectable move MS did in the last couple of years. Still disappointed with OOo sticking to conservatism when they had the better ground to innovate at 2.0 and 3.0 milestones. For once, MS did the right thing (not saying the Ribbon as is might be ‘the right thing’; but to make a bold move in Office UI definitely was).

  3. Perhaps it’s a subtle attempt to destroy multitasking?

    More likely they’re thinking “how do I fire the guy who sold me on this without looking bad?”

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