On Microsoft and Funky Installers

Here’s the deal: Microsoft released Office 2008 for the Mac, and the installer does its own thing with file ownership and permissions. The end deal is that some users are winding up with non-admin users having absolute control over Office’s components — a potential headache for IT crews. That was back in January, so I’ve had plenty of time to mull this one over, and the bottom line is that I just don’t get it.

OK, I get what is happening, I just don’t get how it could have happened in the first place.

I better get one thing clear: I really do like the MacBU team. They are a hard working group that is cranking out bar-none the best software to come out of Big Redmond. These people are in a funky position because they are putting their hearts and souls into making Office for the Mac a kick-ass product, but the world is against them and The Man is bringing them down. Let’s have a shout-out for the MacBU team. Boo-Yah!

Now, back to the Office installer thing.

From what I understand, the Office 2008 installer creates its own ownership and permissions settings with a complete disregard for the actual user accounts on your Mac. That just seems to be a really weird way to make your installer work. And on that note, I really really wish Microsoft hadn’t changed from the brilliantly simple drag-me-to-your-hard drive installation process like Office 2004 uses and gone to a click-me-to-install-everything installer. I’m betting that the permissions problem wouldn’t have happened if Office still installed the old way.

My disappointment with this whole installer headache is tempered, however, with the great way the MacBU team stood up to acknowledge the issue, promise a fix, and offer a clear and concise workaround until the fix is available.

MacBU Developer Lead Erik Schwiebert totally stood up to the plate on this one and was there to make sure that even though there was a problem, it didn’t balloon into a huge crisis. That’s the way to do it: Be open and up front about the problem instead of downplaying the issue while trying to sweep it under the carpet. Hopefully the MacBU team will have an update out soon so that the command line-shy people out there won’t have to dive into Terminal.

For my part, I added a little salt to Microsoft’s wound by accidentally misspelling Schwieb’s name in my TMO articles covering the incident.

Yes, yes, I know: “‘I’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c,’ or when sounding like ‘ay’ as in ‘neighbor’ and ‘weigh’.” My bad.

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