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  1. #1
    New Lounger
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    I first began noticing problems with MS Office programs help resources when I upgraded to Office 2007 a couple of years ago.

    Now I'm using Office 2010 and it seems worse. First I am often not online so theres that. But even when I am online more often I get
    irrelevant returns even on what I think are specifically worded queries. I thought help worked a lot better for me when it wasn't merged
    with online resources, but with so many additional resources that doesn't make sense. I think I am missing something on using help these days.

    My question is - can anybody offer insight why my help-fu has degraded with Office 2007 & 2010?
    "Campaigns to bear-proof all garbage containers in wild areas have been difficult because, as
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  2. #2
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    Although this won't make Help seem any more helpful, but have you noted that if you click on the words 'connected to office.com' at the bottom of the help dialog, there is an option 'show content only from this computer'? That will help you with your off line problems.

    However, I can but concur that each new version of Office seems to result in a regression in the usefulness of Help. Currently it can only be described as awful.

  3. #3
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    Google is much better than MS Help; Woody's even better!

  4. #4
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    Boy have you got that right. I bet my success at finding what I want in Office 2007 help is 1 in 10 at best. I agree that here and Google are better sources.

  5. #5
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    This situation is not limited to Office. The Help facilities in almost all products have deteriorated dramatically in the last decade or so. It seems as though most software companies are unwilling to devote the resources required to product good Help. Many products are still producing help that is feature oriented rather than scenario oriented. Most users seem to want to know how to accomplish a task not a list of features and options.

    Joe
    Joe

  6. #6
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    Insight, I cannot offer. Agreeing, I can. Help in prior Offices used to be pretty good, but 2007 it's terrible. Haven't tried 2010 yet. Like you, searches return absurd results. Before, clicking on the ? on a dialog box brought up useful context-sensitive help, now it simply brings up the general help window at the starting point.

    Only Microsoft can take a useful and working feature and turn it into junk.

  7. #7
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    I remember when Office, and most programs, came with mammoth books that were actually very useful at helping to solve problems. Microsoft used to have a great call in program, yes, you did have to wait on hold awhile but they had their own On Hold radio station, complete with a DJ telling you, between songs, how long the wait times were in each group. Now that they don't have to mess with books and call centers and everything and focus just on getting it right...it has gotten so much worse. I type in a specific phrase to search for help and I get tons of responses but hardly ever one that helps. I too have found it much better to search for help on Google. Maybe that's what they want.

    Let's face it, those of us that are on this forum know how to find answers. How many of the people that you work with even know what the F1 key does? If your experience is like mine, none of them do at any of the places that I have worked. So, why should anyone spend a lot of money on resources when so few actually use it? I don't agree with it but that has to be the thinking.

  8. #8
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    I've got a pet peeve about error messages as well.
    A recent classic fail I've had was MS Updates "Unknown error" (What? If the program doesn't know what the problem is, how would I know?)

  9. #9
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    I agree with all of the above. It used to be that you got a choice in the Help file whether to maximize the information or just retain the standard amount. If you maximized, you were often able to search for the exact topic you needed. Now all you get is a string of answers most or all of which have no relation at all to your question. It is as if no software had yet been inv ented to pick out the right answer.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by elikam View Post
    I agree with all of the above. It used to be that you got a choice in the Help file whether to maximize the information or just retain the standard amount. If you maximized, you were often able to search for the exact topic you needed. Now all you get is a string of answers most or all of which have no relation at all to your question. It is as if no software had yet been inv ented to pick out the right answer.
    I fully agree with elikam. It seems as if whomever wrote the help topics has a great disdain for anyone who does not know computers as will as MS people do. Too often, there is absolutly no connection between the answer givne and the question. I suggest MS hire people who know very little about computers and allow us to preview some of the programs, and the so-called improvements prior to release. Particulary the help listings. I would do it free if I got to use my sharp stick on some of the IT developers. The line forms to the right, just behind me.

  11. #11
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    Help is not the only area where software companies seem to be getting worse. Have you called tech support recently, any tech support? If you can even understand them, their support is most often irrelevant to the problem you are trying to solve. You usually end up making several calls to various levels of the support staff, and maybe, sometimes you actually get an answer that makes sense and actually solves your problem. But more often than not you get increasingly frustrated and search for the answer yourself.
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  12. #12
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    I am dismayed by the dash to the cloud. So many things link you to the cloud in a flash that if you are offline you wonder what you are missing, and in the meantime storage is dirt-cheap on your computer, and especially so for text. I'd like to know the amount of data that is saved to your drive for help, and how frequently and in what proportion it is updated or expanded. I don't recall ever seeing an entry for it in any monthly update, but the knowledge base (in the neutral sense) is constantly expanding.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by dogberry View Post
    I am dismayed by the dash to the cloud. So many things link you to the cloud in a flash that if you are offline you wonder what you are missing, and in the meantime storage is dirt-cheap on your computer, and especially so for text. I'd like to know the amount of data that is saved to your drive for help, and how frequently and in what proportion it is updated or expanded. I don't recall ever seeing an entry for it in any monthly update, but the knowledge base (in the neutral sense) is constantly expanding.
    It is very unusual for on-premise Help to be updated once a version is released. Theoretically, by having people use online help a software vendor can be assured that everyone is using the same version of Help. That still does not mean that the Help content is useful only that should be current.

    Joe

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeP517 View Post
    It is very unusual for on-premise Help to be updated once a version is released. Theoretically, by having people use online help a software vendor can be assured that everyone is using the same version of Help. That still does not mean that the Help content is useful only that should be current.

    Joe
    This looks like a real Achilles' heel to me, given that so many users are dedicated to laptop. Here we have Office 2010 SP-1 and (if consistent with your observation) no improvement in Help where it could most easily have been greatly improved now that there is so much additional experience with the applications, and presumably no improvement in offline troubleshooters (if there is such a thing) either. I'm sure there are people with some influence at MS who could gently suggest to them that there are offline users who need help as much as online users, and who may need it more urgently precisely because they are offline. I confess to having a big fat book or two, and the biggest selling point to me is often whether or not it comes with a pdf of the text, which is better than the book anyway, because it is so conveniently searchable. Mind you, context-sensitive help may be even more useful depending on circumstances.

    I hope that doesn't sound too much like a rant, but it is a pet peeve.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by dogberry View Post
    This looks like a real Achilles' heel to me, given that so many users are dedicated to laptop. Here we have Office 2010 SP-1 and (if consistent with your observation) no improvement in Help where it could most easily have been greatly improved now that there is so much additional experience with the applications, and presumably no improvement in offline troubleshooters (if there is such a thing) either. I'm sure there are people with some influence at MS who could gently suggest to them that there are offline users who need help as much as online users, and who may need it more urgently precisely because they are offline. I confess to having a big fat book or two, and the biggest selling point to me is often whether or not it comes with a pdf of the text, which is better than the book anyway, because it is so conveniently searchable. Mind you, context-sensitive help may be even more useful depending on circumstances.

    I hope that doesn't sound too much like a rant, but it is a pet peeve.
    I'm certain that Microsoft and other software vendors have lots of data about how much Help is used. It is much easier for them to update on-line help as the consumer must reach out for the content than it is to produce an update package and have it pushed to the consumer.

    Joe

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