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SM Word (#1084)

Topics/tags: Rants

Because of Grinnell’s new and restrictive software policies, I’ve been trying to adapt to using Microsoft products. As I’ve noted before, Microsoft products are often similar to many of the popular alternatives except a bit less intuitive [1]. I’ve also been amused to find that not all products are covered by our normal license. For example, we may be having students use Visual Studio Code [2] and it turns out that it wasn’t on the list of approved products [3].

But my current issue has to deal with more mainstream Microproducts, like Teams [4], Planner [5], and Word for Web [6,7]. What’s wrong? It’s how they interact with Active Directory, or whatever the service is that keeps track of our names and other account details.

At Grinnell, names are stored in last-name-first order. So I’m Rebelsky, Samuel A.. That makes sense, I suppose. I’d prefer that it use Samuel A. Rebelsky, but I’ll survive. Here’s the thing: Lots of Microprods use two-letter initials. But they aren’t consistent.

For example, here’s what I see in Teams.

A post from Microsoft Teams.  A blue bubble with the letters 'SR' appears at the left.  Next two it is 'Rebelsky, Samuel', in bold, a timestamp, and a message.

Looks good, doesn’t it? SR stands for Sam Rebelsky.

What happens in Word? The same thing, right? Nope.

The upper-right-hand corner of an MS word screen.  The letters 'RS' are in a red circle.  Next to them is a pop-up message 'Account manager for Rebelsky, Samuel'.

Who’s RS? That’s me, right? Rebelsky, Samuel. Do you want to figure that out? What happens when Ralph Savarese and I are both editing the same document? Since people are used to initials being first-last, the odds are that I get credited for carefully crafted writing and Ralph gets blamed for wanton destruction.

Dear Microsoft: Is it that hard to make your damn products consistent?

Dear ITS: Can we perhaps select products that work correctly?

Postscript: Despite my frustrations, I’ve found some aspects of the Microsoft ecosystem almost decent. The single-sign-on integration with Duo is even feeling relatively natural [8].

[1] They are not intuitive to me, but they may be intuitive to people who have drunk the Microsoft Kool-Aid. Of course, I asked one person who uses Microproducts regularly how I could sync a folder on Sharepointless to my local drive, and they were unable to figure it out. I may have written about that experience.

[2] Also VSCode or just Code.

[3] It is now, provided we have students turn off telemetry reporting and crash reporting. I’m glad that we’re more concerned about the information that Microsoft is taking from VS Code than we are about the info it gathers from, say, our email server.

[4] Being advertised on a TV channel near you, or at least on the CW streaming service this evening.

[5] Is Planner mainstream?

[6] I’m pretty sure that the Web version of Word is a mainstream product.

[7] Is it called Word for Web? I’m not sure.

[8] I may be the only person who feels that way.

Version 1.0 of 2020-06-13.