Things I don’t like about Office/Microsoft365

You know I am a total Microsoft fangirl. I can drive people crazy by asking why they are using SurveyMonkey or Google Forms instead of Forms, why they are using expensive dictation software when they have built-in dication in OneNote and Word Online, and I have tons of other irritating questions 🙂

There are a few things however, that I do not like so much.

1. Lack of accurate timing on the Roadmap

We have a Roadmap-into-Planner setup, so every day I check what is new, what is relevant for IT and/or users, and if and how we will promote this.

While I can live with the sheer amount of change and the inconsistent content of the items (sometimes it is just a line, sometime it is a complete article, sometimes it has screenshots (yes, that is really helpful, more of those please!)) I do have a problem with the timings.

Sometimes we seem to have to wait forever. For instance, I have not yet seen the option to make every meeting a Teams meeting in the Outlook desktop at work, but I have seen it in Karuana’s demo’s and I have it in my home tenant. It should have been launched in March, but it is July and I still do not have it in our tenant. I, nor my team, have a clue when it will enter our tenant.

Right now the highlighted line is not in our work tenant for Outlook Desktop users.(Screenshot from my personal tenant). The functionality has been available for Outlook Web users for months. If anyone can tell me when I can expect this for my work tenant, or what we have to do to make it visible, please do!

Another example: my F3-licensed test account still does not have the text options in Forms (Bold, italics, underscore, lists) in Forms that I have had for months in my E3-work account. But nowhere it is mentioned if and when this will become available for F3-users.

On the other hand, sometimes my colleagues ask me questions about something that I have not even seen yet. And my E3-work account is on Targeted Release, so I should have had it before them!

So, please make that timing a little bit more accurate, so we know what to look for, and promote, when!

2. The hype around PowerApps

This is an onpopular opinion but I am not very impressed with Power Apps, with the exception of Power Automate, although it is getting more and more complex, after nicely starting out as “the Microsoft alternative to IFFFT”. (which is a very simple workflow tool).

In many cases I simply do not see why you would create a PowerApp when you can do it perfectly well on SharePoint. Yes, a Power App will generally look better, and may be easier to use on your phone, but is that worth the extra complexity, the extra licensing, the extra consultant costs?

Additionally, it is being marketed as a “low code/no code” product. Well, as someone who does know a bit of code and generally picks up things quickly, I must say that creating a PowerApp is quite a lot of work and definitely not “low code/no code”, especially not in my type of organization. Our Microsoft partner has installed a few PowerApps and they have been hell to set up, get to work, and maintain.

3. No delegation options in Teams

Yes, I am perfectly aware of the fact that every manager should be able to make their own appointments and view their own meeting documents, but in real life things may be different. You do not want to bother managers with organizing a meeting with people with full agendas. A secretary/personal assistant can do that. A secretary/p.a. can take a lot of work out of a manager’s hands so the manager can focus on the skills they were hired for. Call me oldfashioned, but I think the secretaryp.a. still plays a valid role in organizations.

While Outlook has a ton of options to share mailbox and calendar and what not between manager and secretary/p.a., Teams, especially private chat, is very much a personal tool. It does not allow delegation and it does not accomodate group mailboxes or group accounts. Yet, Teams is being promoted as “THE new place to do your work”. If we want Teams to be the only work tool you need, there should be delegation options for secretaries/p.a.’s, otherwise there is not much point for those people to move away from Outlook.

There’s a User Voice item out there: Delegate capability – Welcome to UserVoice!

4. Differences desktop/online

I told you before that the majority of our users has an F3-license and works exclusively with the web apps. (Except for Teams, where we have the desktop app installed for everyone).

While the web apps are very good and getting better quickly, they lack some functionalities of the desktop apps, and that can lead to questions and irritations. These often come from people who have worked at another organization where the desktop apps were the norm, and they sometimes have difficulty switching to the web apps.
We always try to come up with either the way to do it (some things are just in a different location, you need to check View > Reading View to see the final document) or with an alternative, such as the Watermark. We do not know every small package of functionality so we are often surprised by a question and then have to investigate the options. Sometimes we redirect people from Word or Excel to PowerPoint (e.g. when they use a lot of graphs or pictures), sometimes we replace a document with a Form or a SharePoint list, etc.

The ribbon in Word for the web. Fewer tabs, and in some tabs fewer options, especially for designs and layouts. That does not mean things can not be done, sometimes you can do it in a different way.
The ribbon in Word desktop. More options, especially for graphics and designs.

While this is often fun and challenging, it can be a nuisance when people really need the desktop app because they work with another software that only works with the desktop apps. Some people need to sync an Excel file from another system once a week, or once a month, and then they need the desktop since the web app does not do that. If we switch them to an E3-license for those 5 minutes a week, chances are that they will never learn to appreciate the web apps.

So, to Microsoft: the fewer differences there are between the two app versions, the better. And to Microsoft partners and developers of software and apps: please make your products compatible with the web apps, not with the desktop apps.

Are there any things you do not like about the 365 suite?

Please let me know!

20 thoughts on “Things I don’t like about Office/Microsoft365

  1. Christine Green July 18, 2021 / 2:59 pm

    Hi Ellen,
    You nailed it with this post (as always), and I’m sending to my manager, who doesn’t understand why I spend so much time keeping up with and conveying changes through M365 (he thinks it should take 5% of my time – hah!) The same items you mentioned are the ones that drive me nuts. The Roadmap timing is almost always off and wastes so much time having to check when things become available. It’s a minor point, but I am also irritated by the new “magic link” thing that makes it harder to vote on user voice, and the fact that even very popular user voice items don’t get updated by Microsoft as to status, sometimes for years on end.

    Thanks so much for all your detailed and excellent posts.

    Christine

    • Ellen van Aken July 19, 2021 / 10:02 am

      Hi Christine,
      Thank you for your kind words. Glad you like my blog and I hope it is helpful.
      While 5% may be sufficient to keep track of the roadmap, reviewing and filtering out the relevant things, (I made a quick calculation and I spend about 1 1/2 hours per 36-hour working week on doing this), it is not sufficient for regular checking if people have it (both Targeted Release and Regular users for both licenses), occasional functional testing, creating communications and updating help materials. Especially the “is it available yet” is very time-consuming if things take a long time to show up :-).
      Do you know that UserVoice is going away? Microsoft will be using their own systems now, but to be honest, I have not seen much of that. So there may be less focus on UserVoice.

      Cheers, best regards,
      Ellen

  2. Peter Richards July 18, 2021 / 10:16 pm

    Hi Ellen, still loving your work even though you don’t hear from me often these days.

    My latest peeve is with MS Forms and not having the ability to add CAPTCHA or alternative challenge–response test. I would like to use MS forms as a public facing option on one of my web sites however the risk of spam and bots hitting the form is a big con.

    I also agree with your regarding Power Apps. I love Power Automate and continue to use it extensively to solve process automation challenges. But Power Apps is somewhat underwhelming. It may get better as time goes on and further enhancements are rolled out but currently TBH I was much happier using InfoPath.

    Stay Fabulous!

    • Ellen van Aken July 19, 2021 / 9:44 am

      Hi Peter, good to hear from you again!
      I am not aware of any functionality regarding Forms that would help you with this. There is/was a Forms Pro, which is now part of the Dynamics family, that has more advanced options, but it will mean you will have to look at your licenses as this will most likely mean additional costs if you are not on Dynamics yet.
      Good to learn I am not the only one who is underwhelmed with PowerApps, but Sam has made some valuable comments to this post regarding that. You can still use InfoPath until 2026, right? 🙂 I do not miss it, however.
      Cheers, take care,
      Ellen

  3. Christopher Mainland July 18, 2021 / 10:41 pm

    I read this article going …yes, yes YES, yes, yes! Spot on

    • Ellen van Aken July 19, 2021 / 9:34 am

      Thank you! Glad to see I am not the only one 🙂
      Best regards,
      Ellen

  4. Sam Gray July 19, 2021 / 12:54 am

    Hi Ellen,
    Power Apps have their place, you are correct that where requirements are simple and relational data is not needed, SharePoint lists are the right way to go, it is overkill to try and build a Power App. As soon as you need multiple lists with relationships or the source data is not in SharePoint you need a way of simplifying that for the end users, which is where a Power App will come in.

    On the lowcode/nocode I tend to agree with you, its not nocode for sure. Low code is a stretch if you want to build well performing and efficient apps, but this is only for Canvas Apps. We could say the same about excel as it borrows heavily from excel type formulas.

    The true no code option is Model driven Power Apps with dataverse, that is configuration only, but will cost you to be licensed.

    I am often frustrated with the differences between web and desktop for office applications too particularly where the documents in Word for the web in no way represent how they actually look nicely formatted in desktop.

    • Ellen van Aken July 19, 2021 / 9:34 am

      Hi Sam,

      Thank you for that clarification. We have not had any PowerApps that connect to other systems so that may explain my feelings; I can imagine that those scenarios could use PowerApps. I will keep that in mind.
      As for the Word Online: it appears to be very confusing that Word online looks very different in Edit mode than in View mode – so I keep telling people to check the Reading View which shows the correct formatting. If people use SharePoint, a template in SharePoint with the correct formatting may help. Using that they never have to worry about the layout.
      Oh, and there is something new in Word: a magic wand that solves many layout errors: Word Designer.
      Best regards,
      Ellen

  5. Loryan Strant July 19, 2021 / 2:18 am

    For point 1 – what release of Office are you running? Current channel, Semi-Annual channel, something else?

    • Ellen van Aken July 19, 2021 / 9:22 am

      Thank you! I will check that with the system folks. Is there a way I can check it myself?

      • Loryan Strant July 19, 2021 / 11:01 am

        Yes, go to Info in an Office app and it should say on the right.

    • Ellen van Aken July 19, 2021 / 5:00 pm

      Hi Loryan, thank you! It says “semi-annual business channel”. Does that make sense?
      Cheers,
      Ellen

      • Loryan Strant July 19, 2021 / 11:10 pm

        That’s why you don’t have the feature – because your Office suite only gets updated one every six months. It’s in your tenant, but your desktop client doesn’t have it yet.

      • Ellen van Aken July 20, 2021 / 11:51 am

        Aha, that must be it. Although I saw it in Karuana’s email in January I think, but I guess she’s ahead of things. We will wait patiently then. 🙂 Best regards, Ellen

      • Loryan Strant July 20, 2021 / 12:01 pm

        No, it’s been available for quite some time. :/
        Check Outlook on the web, you should see it there.

      • Ellen van Aken July 20, 2021 / 12:30 pm

        Yes, I have had it in the web app for months, and I have used it as soon as I saw it. However we have a number of people who only use Outlook desktop, and I want them to have it as well. It is a good example that the desktop apps are running behind 😄

      • Loryan Strant July 20, 2021 / 12:49 pm

        That’s one way to look at it, or that your IT team are ultra-conservative and only let Office update once every six months, whereas it is become more common for it to be every month.

      • Ellen van Aken July 20, 2021 / 1:28 pm

        Haha, I will tell them that 🙂

  6. Anja July 21, 2021 / 9:33 am

    delegation options : simply a must!
    Great blog Ellen.

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