In August 2006, Microsoft’s Macintosh Business Unit announced at the Worldwide Developers Conference that Microsoft Office 2008 for the Macintosh would be released without Visual Basic Support. Training managers wondered if there was a need to continue Visual Basic training if their organizations were using Macintoshes.
Recently, the MacBU revealed that Visual Basic is making a comeback and will be included in the next Mac release of Office, making Visual Basic training important no matter what platform Office is deployed on.
Public Reaction To The Loss Of Visual Basic
Some Macintosh owners were outraged by the announcement, saying it made Office useless to them. Many swore they would abandon Microsoft in favor of Open Office or refuse to upgrade.
To some extent this reaction was fed by the misconception that Office 2008 wouldn’t support macros created in older versions of Office. Office 2008 does support Visual Basic macros, but the code cannot be edited nor can new Visual Basic applications be written. The outcry was also exaggerated by the innate “mountains out of molehills” effect of internet communication.
Despite the strong and often profanity-laced responses to the decision, Office 2008 has sold quite well. Most Office users don’t use the scripting functions so weren’t affected by the decision at all while others embraced AppleScript to create the macros they needed. The world didn’t end, life continued, and there was no decline in the demand for Visual Basic training.
The Return Of Visual Basic
The MacBU never was opposed to Visual Basic. However software developers have deadlines and in the end they realized that the work necessary to continue VB support would delay the release of Office 2008 unacceptably. Software creation is like any manufacturing process and ultimately features have to be cut to meet time frames.
Even before Visual Basic was officially cut from the project, developers were working on ways to bring it back to the next version. Their commitment was reinforced when they saw how unhappy Macintosh owners were with removal of the feature.
Although it took time for an official announcement, it has been revealed that the next version of Office for the Macintosh will definitely see the return of full support for Visual Basic scripting.
Should Your Organization Use Office 2008?
In light of this news, companies still face the decision of whether to upgrade from Office 2004 to Office 2008. The features of the newest version of the software suite have to be balanced against the loss of the ability to edit or create new macros.
Office 2004 is still a great product that remains competitive in a modern business environment. If your organization needs the macro support, it might be advisable to remain on the older platform until the release of the next version. The Visual Basic training will not be wasted and can be used when the new version of Office is released.
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