Saturday, January 14, 2012

The downside of M$ Office 2010 Starter Edition

Apart from the cost and lock in file formats why would anybody choose Microsoft Office Starter?

Microsoft Office 2010 Starter Edition has been with us for a while. It is a striped down basic version of Office Home and Student Edition minus the PowerPoint and OneNote components. So what do you get? Word and Excel with basic viewing and editing features that meet undemanding home users basic requirements. Power user features are omitted such as macros and it's advertising supported showing a small ad box in the bottom of a side bar which cannot be turned off, hidden or resized. This version of Office Microsoft only licences to be pre-installed by an OEM. It uses Microsoft Click-to-Run application virtualization and streaming technology which doesn't have a standard executable application file like we are used to in windows applicatons. Why am I blogging about this?

This week I had to set-up a brand new Dell consumer grade laptop where the owner wanted to transfer is files, mainly pictures and Word/Excel documents from a retired XP laptop to this new Windows 7 machine. User requirements are modest just standard letters and a few personal finance spreadsheets and a moderate quantity of photos which are edited with a 1.0 release of Adobe Photoshop Elements, which seems to work fine in Windows 7, a nice surprise. Because of the modest requirements the pre-installed Office Starter Edition was chosen rather than a Home and Student licence at £70 to replace an obsolete copy of MS Office 2000. The first sign of trouble was the user first finding the ads intrusive and the sidebar taking up far more screen space than is necessary. The real issue however, because the user uses this feature frequently, is that Microsoft in their infinite wisdom have decided to remover the ability to scan an image directly into an office document. I believe this has been a feature since at least Office 95 and most probably even before that back in the bad old days of 16 bit versions of Windows and Office. There are of course work-arounds, involving macros but of course these features are unavailable in the Starter Edition.

There is a simple solution for users of other versions of Office 2010 to scan directly into Word 2010 explained at which uses a simple macro that can be assigned to a ribbon bar button, details here.
Sub InsertFromScanner()
On Error Resume Next
End Sub

Of course this is only useful if you are not using the crippled version of Office and are willing to pay the inflated price for the privilege. You didn't really expect Micro$oft to give you something for nothing now did you? For new improved read retrograde step! The best fix for this...

Funny how you can still scan directly into or LibreOffice; truly free software any takers?

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