Microsoft Says What They Really Think

Thanx to Debra over at Contextures for letting me know about this presentation from the Office 365 Garage Series:

What we’re seeing here is an open statement by Microsoft that full-featured client Office is dead and that we must all grasp onto the Web-based Office.  In fact they actually say that there is literally nobody using VBA or VSTO anymore at all … and that the future belongs to JavaScript and HTML5 using the Office Web apps.  To make their point they have a “Top 5” cool things list (mentioning that usually it’s a top ten but they could only come up with  5 – oops 😉  ) …

I’d really like to know what the message really is here?  I know for a fact that the Web app for Excel and Access are sad shells of the capabilities of the core application.  I also know that many, many people all around the world are getting daily value out of those full-featured client products and could forever frankly.

It tells me that Microsoft has decided that since very few people seem to GET all the big features of these full products then they just have to dumb the technology down and encourage people to jump on the bandwagon for Office 365 and Office in the browser.  They seem to not understand that when Excel or Access solutions are created by one user they get used by many, many more people every day.  They seem to look at licenses as only valuable if each and every user ends up developing for themselves alone.  The fact is that if users end up doing it all themselves the entire technology will be dumbed down and marginalized (as if it hasn’t been enough already).  I have no idea who they might be talking to (if anyone) to get this opinion?

How can any self-respecting  software company openly “dis” their own full-featured product in favour of a new “version” (and I use that term loosely) that is significantly less capable, meanwhile abandoning the literally millions of people around the World who rely on the full product in running their business every day?

Frankly in this presentation they drive a stake through the heart of anyone trying to make a living being expert in Excel and/or Access client which will finally mean the end of any support for all those using the product with frankly no alternative replacement.

I cannot believe what I am seeing and I can’t believe how many of the usual suspects of Office “thought leaders” are trying to salvage something out of this debacle by trying to embrace this new “technology”.  There is no “there” there I’m afraid people.

This technology is being pushed on JavaScript and Web developers who don’t give two s**ts about doing development in Office and never will.  AND it is being pitched to end users, as if they have the time and knowledge to develop this kind of stuff in their spare time, let alone support it and evolve it once in production.  There is no opportunity for a “professional” in this space.  There is no money to be made chasing this dead end and we all have to remember that getting paid is all it’s about …

And if you think this is just the ravings of a bitter old guy then go ahead and think that … but I am just looking out for all of you .. it’s too late for me.

About Biggus Dickus

Dick is a consultant in London, ON Canada who specializes in Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Office Development.
This entry was posted in Access, Business Intelligence, Excel, Excel 2013, Microsoft Access, Microsoft Access 2013, Microsoft Excel 2013, Office 2013, Office Automation, PowerPivot, Spreadsheets, VBA. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Microsoft Says What They Really Think

  1. Reblogged this on MS Excel | Power Pivot | DAX and commented:
    Ich bin ja eigentlich nicht so mit Technoligien verheiratet, sondern für mich zählt das Ergebnis. Und ob da VBA oder JavaScript dahintersteckt ist mir reichlich egal. Aber etwas nachdenklich macht mich dieser Blogbeitrag und auch die darin erwähnte Präsentation dann schon. Ich könnte eigentlich nicht behaupten, dass heute niemand mehr Excel oder Access mit VBA benutzt. Da habe ich eigentlich in vielen Controllingabteilungen genau das Gegenteil erlebt. Aber ok, die neueste Technoligie ist es wirklich nicht und wenn man so sieht, wie Microsoft damit umgeht, hat man schon das Gefühl, dass hier nichts Neues mehr kommen wird. Auf der anderen Seite haben die neuen Webapps natürlich ihren Charme. Nur ob es damit möglich ist, komplexe Anwendungen zu erstellen, das lasse ich mal dahingestellt.

  2. Giorgio says:

    Access seems to be in a state of flux nowadays, “How can any self-respecting software company openly “dis” their own full-featured product in favour of a new “version””
    not so according to what you hear from 2:56 to 3:10 at

    • Biggus Dickus says:

      That’s a pretty sad promotion of the Client Access when at the end of that piece he says how IT people don’t like client because people come to them with it broken like a kid with a broken toy …. Not what I’d call a full-some endorsement of the client experience. He may say what he wants about the future of Access client but every indication from every source says that MS REALLY wants the Access client to simply go away… Access client is DEAD … It has been finally put down by the Microsofties who have been trying to do so ever since the product first shipped. And trust me, I was there.

      I listened to the entire presentation just now and it makes me weak in the knees while listening. What they’re promoting is an ability to create cutesy add-ins for the Access Web app … No talk at all about the core capabilities of the app – i.e It’s ability to create a REAL database solution for use in REAL business situations.

      Later on one of them refers on more than one occasion that the target for Access is now End-Users and “Power-Users”. What happens when someone asks that user to go that one extra step that the user isn’t up to (and/or the application just wasn’t built to do)? Trust me it WILL happen EVERY time. Then what? Then they say “Access sucks just like we thought” and Access is done there.

      He really thinks that IT is going to be happy with end-users creating solutions that connect to various add-ins that live on the corporate SharePoint site? Do they really think that this is sellable any more (or probably less IMHO) than getting a client-side Access application deployed by someone with the requisite skills to do so?

      No my friend, that presentation is NOT a statement that Microsoft is going to continue to promote and develop the Client/VBA version of Access. You don’t have to read between the lines to see that the opposite is the truth – it’s right out front.

  3. Mark says:

    This is one of the reasons why I like to keep copies on disc of things like old versions of Office.

    I’m not discounting new tools but for small department solutions with virtually nil budgets Access could see them through for ten years under Windows 8 for zero revenue cost. And on the new hardware it runs like lightning. MS realise that the future of software is going to be a difficult sell so they need to be owning the whole estate if they want to charge moneys.

    Still think it comes down to the fact that the economics of software which is potentially immortal is very different to anything else we have really created.

    • Biggus Dickus says:

      “Potentially immortal” is a great line 🙂 !! I am going to a client on Tuesday who has been using a piece of software I wrote back in 1985 that they STILL USE (on a machine running Win 98). They just won’t stop using it but now they want to move it to another machine… I’ve lost the installation discs so am not sure exactly how it’s going to go. I’ve tried to tell him I’m not supporting it anymore but he’s tone deaf to that .. So I STILL support him .. that was the deal !!!

      You’re right about Access solutions working forever but what’s wrong with that? When a client pays for a piece of custom software they expect to get several years out of it to recoup their cost (or to reveal the benefits anyway). Is Microsoft saying that they aren’t really a software company but rather a marketing company that’s more interested in their licenses than if anyone actually USES their software? It sure looks like that doesn’t it.. and I know it’s been talked about for years.

      That to me is just simply irresponsible and unethical. If they want to keep a customer they need to have a technology path that the customer can augment their investment in a way that adds value to the solution they already paid for. To tell them “Naaahhh just go this totally different direction because it pleases Microsoft’s management” is just cynical and terrible. It also has successfully killed off the community that built up around their original technology and they have driven down the value of work in that space to the point where no one in their right mind would aspire to do that kind of work as a career decision. And their newest and coolest offering is so weak that by the time they get it to the point where it MIGHT be useful (years out) no one will care – in fact very few care even now except Microsoft Devs who get a paycheque every to weeks for building this crap.

      Have a nice day ;-)… Dick

  4. Mark says:

    Sign of a well made system – congratulations.

    How much do you think it would cost them to get the same system built from scratch again?

    I tried to do a quick Google on the affect on markets of immortality but all I get is about life extension of humans… Immortality of their products is not something I expect Microsoft to be promoting.

    • Biggus Dickus says:

      10’s of thousands of dollars. I have been asked to rewrite this app my, many times over the decades but it’s for a stupid business (commodities handling) where the business model is ridiculous and the rules change all the time anyway and where everybody does things different from everyone else. So the opportunity to write one and sell many just was never there. It would have been on me like a bad smell forever (and this one guy has proven it 😉 ) …

  5. Bye, Bye VBA? Whether we see that upfront or between the lines, it is definitely in the future. Should we complain? I don’t think so. Office as an installed application or as a web-app is an excellent option for the home user and enterprise deployment as well. The web-app model provides a great amount of flexibility in when and where a user can work and this is finally feasible because of the prevalence of internet access. The issue created by this dual-deployment model is that the application versus the web-app needs a web-based technology to unify the experiences. Does this mean I am not disappointed with this change? I am going to be frustrated with learning what I have not yet learned and that those VBA (for Excel) I may have to rewrite. But many environments are still using pre-2010 Office versions and it will be some time before VBA is written off. Additionally, Bill Jelen (Mr. Excel) suggest in his book “Excel 2013 VBA and Macros” that VBA will still be supported to the 2030’s and makes a decent argument for that timetable.

    • Biggus Dickus says:

      There’s a lot I could say about your comment but what really struck me was this phrase:

      “Office as an installed application or as a web-app is an excellent option for the home user and enterprise deployment as well.”

      Is your expertise as a home user ? 😉 ….

      What exactly do you mean by “Enterprise Deployment” ? and why would that on its own be a selling point for Excel in the future?

      ” I am going to be frustrated with learning what I have not yet learned and that those VBA (for Excel) I may have to rewrite. ”
      Rewrite them using what ?? I am really curious what you’re going to do all this with if not with VBA (and don’t even think of VSTO – VSTA maybe but that’s DOA).?

      I feel a major posting on all this coming … it’s like the feeling you get just before you throw up … but you feel better afterwards 😉


      • Enterprise Deployment as in Office365 for business. This is where the users and access to the applications is controlled through an administrator controlling the individual users access. This also creates an environment where shared data among users in the same company can easily share and exchange documents whether local or across the web.
        My expertise includes a subscription to Office365 Home premium, but have been using Excel in the office handling large data sets that originated in txt reports that were not compatible with direct import as csv or other delaminated files. Unfortunately I have been ahead of the versions in the offices I have worked at.
        Based on the video referenced, many of the functions I employ through VBA for Excel can be done through the XML or JavaScripting, but would work whether working in the desktop or WebApp version of each Office Application (excluding Word?) I may have misunderstood that point, but I see the desire for both the desktop and webapp to function as closely as possible. This would resolve shortcomings faced in the Win8-RT environment too.
        I also noticed that in the video they used both desktop versions and web based versions of the apps. Excel appeared to be desktop and Outlook appeared to the Web based.
        Your end comment in your reply is spot-on! I just can’t wait for “you feel better afterwards.”

  6. Mike Honey says:

    Hi Dick, maybe the glass is actually half full in this case?

    I look at recent releases as expanding the Excel/Office universe. Now developers/creators like us can share our content more easily with users who don’t have the specific version of Office, and/or don’t have a Windows computer. That’s great – a bigger audience means greater network effects and greater ROI for our efforts.

    If javascript/web developers do start to present content in Office Apps (I’m not holding my breath), it seems inevitable that some proportion of those new projects would run out of functionality and need to be extended in the Office for Windows world. Again – that’s great for us.

    I suspect the presenters were just trying desperately to hype their own project (Office Apps) by taking some cheap shots at their “competitors” (Office for Windows).

    • Biggus Dickus says:

      Nice thoughts Mike … You’re right .. glass half full.

      But think of this one … today for the umpteenth time I was asked if I could do some stand-on-my head Excel report that runs exclusively from the browser not needing client Excel. Of course as always it is just not possible without the client and in this case a lot of VBA. This is happening to me about once a month and it isn’t helping me swing to g;ass half full.

      But thanx for you comment…


  7. Simon says:

    Microsofts customer has changed, instead of business users that are interested in business relevant features and benefits, these days MS sells to IT department heads who understand nothing about business or IT so just word match from supplier to IT press articles and buy whatever has the highest number of similar words. none of which they understand.
    Under the previous CEO, MS seems to have aligned its management in a similar vein.

    • Biggus Dickus says:

      “IT department heads who understand nothing about business or IT ” You nailed it Simon – as always 🙂


    • Oz du Soleil says:

      Has the customer changed or has MSFT’s focus changed?
      There are so many many many customers, there isn’t a “the customer.”

      Personally, I’m getting exhausted by the financial and IT conversations around Excel and data. There are so many users doing so many critical and interesting things inside and outside of finance and IT, they deserve attention.

      • Biggus Dickus says:

        That’s a great point. The majority of my work does not have dollar signs in each record … mining production, network addresses and volumes and capacities, data centre power usage, client information … goes on and on. But it’s easier to do demos of financial info because hopefully everyone will relate to it and understand what you’re promoting. But that is typical marketing simple-mindedness applied to a technological product .. embarrassing frankly.

        But there is no way anymore to get to the operations people who need this kind of data crunching (with either Excel or Access) anymore…

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