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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

MS Office for Mac 2008 and NeatReceipts Scanner for Mac

How To (And Not To) Respond To Customers:
MS Office For Mac And NeatReceipts Scanner For Mac

By Terry L. Brock

Technology is a great enabler when it works. We can accomplish more with good technology than we can without it. However, when the manufacturers of technology think they have a better way and try to force it upon the rest of us, well, the rest of us have a way to responding that is not always good for sellers of technology.

Recently, I was able to get two new technologies, which I use a lot in my business. There are good and not-so-good features which I’ll share with you in this article. I welcome your comments.

MS Office 2008 For Mac

I used office a lot on my Dell Windows computer. Office 2003 was a staple to get the job done. When I moved over to Mac I was able to make the transition relatively smoothly --- with a few calls to some wonderful people in support.

When the 2008 version for Office was released I was pleased to get that. I had trouble getting my own copy and couldn’t get it directly from Microsoft in spite of a few email messages requesting the promised upgrade. So, I was delighted to hear from them to receive my copy of Office 2008 to review for this article.

It loaded in about 50 minutes. I was concerned about the length of time until I realized (after installation) that Office quickly looked at what I already had with Office 2003 and brought it into the new software. That was nice. No hassle and it did it on its own. It would have been nice to have a message something like “We notice you already have Office 2003 with files. So, we’ll just bring your old data into the new features so you can use it.” Something like that would have been a nice touch, but I’m not complaining.

Not yet anyway.

I loved the new speed with Entourage, the Mac version of Outlook (kinda). I noticed that I could look up contact information much faster (about 3 seconds vs. 50 seconds---big difference!). I also liked the new feature called “My Day.” It gives you a snapshot of the meetings you have, the tasks to complete and more. This is a really nice feature and worth the upgrade by itself.

However, I did have a major complaint with a feature that has caused aggravation for many. Microsoft decided not to allow macros from Office 2003 to come into Office 2008.

Major bummer!

Technically, they dropped Visual Basic because (and I’m quoting from their website here,

“Office 2008 was built to be a universal application because Apple moved to Intel processors, the Macintosh VBA compiler was originally designed for a much earlier PowerPC-based Macintosh and will not work, without significant modifications, on the Intel-based Macintosh. VBA macro code is compiled at runtime, and the compiler code, VB editor code, and VB forms code could not be converted for the Intel-based Macintosh without extensive programming work that…. blah, blah blah.” (Okay, I made up the “blah, blah, blah” part!)

What is going on here? Macros are a way to save hours of time for users. Microsoft felt they didn’t have enough time to bring it into the new version? And besides, I didn’t see that much in Word that needed to be changed. Word 2003 is a fine program, thank you, and we really didn’t need a lot of changes. However, we certainly needed to keep what is already working (like macros).


Space doesn’t allow a more comprehensive evaluation (see my Blog for more info) but suffice it to say that I found Office:Mac 2008 really good on the Entourage side, fair on Excel, merely okay with PowerPoint (still like Keynote better from Apple) and Word a sad disappointment.

With increased competition from really good online options like Google Docs, ZoHo and more ever day, this could be the beginning of the end for computing as we knew it in the old days (back in the 90’s).

Neat Receipt Scanner For Mac

On another note, I received the NeatReceipt scanner for Mac. This has been a venerable sheetfed scanner on the Windows side. This version is called “An Advance Release” meaning that it doesn’t have everything from the Windows side---not yet anyway.

I used it for some scanning of magazine articles, hand-written notes and was frustrated for a while as it always assumed it needed numbers (receipts). However, a couple of quick calls to their support eliminated the problems in about 120 seconds. These people are good!

I’ve now been using my NetReceipts scanner on my MacBook Pro and it is a very good experience. Their support is outstanding. Their hardware is rugged and seems very dependable (more after I’ve taken it on a few trips). The software is good. The best part---it is really good technology which can increase your productivity!

Office 2008 for Mac, $149.95,
NeatReceipts Scanner, $179.95,

Moral of the story: Listen to customers and respond to their needs, not what you think is nice. Software developers need to get out from behind their desks, pecking on keyboards, and find out what end-users are saying. Listening to and responding to customers remains the best way to succeed in business. True Relationship Marketing is built on this principle. We can all learn from it.

Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and columnist who helps businesses market more effectively, leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their days using time-honored rules and practical technology tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at or through his website at