March 18, 2015
Bugs happen. Buggy software is, unfortunately, the norm rather than the exception. No software that is ever shipped will be bug free. We hope that the software we buy (or more often now rent) has been thoroughly tested. We expect that once bugs are identified that they will be quickly remediated.
But some bugs should not happen. Some bugs are so basic that they should have been caught before the software shipped.
For calendar applications, amongst the most basic of features is displaying the freaking days of the week. Releasing calendar software that does not display the day of the week is like selling a car without a steering wheel. Oops.
This is just what Microsoft did when it released Outlook for Mac Version 15.6. In the Work Week or Week views, the header for the calendar that displays the day of the week is totally gone. The only way to tell what day an event or meeting is scheduled for is to count the number of days. Calendar column 4 must mean Thursday.
Microsoft is aware of this issue. When I Googled the issue to try to fix it, I found a discussion on the Office 365 / Outlook for Mac community forum.
On 1/27 Micaela reported this problem. I’ll reproduce the screenshot that Micaela posted in the forum:
On 2/9, Sunder Raman from Microsoft, posted this work-around:
"I'm a Program Manager on the Mac Outlook team. Thanks for reporting the issues here and on Mac Outlook forum.
We are aware of the Calendar day/date header issue. Can you please confirm if the following repro mitigates the issue -
1. Switch away from Calendar to Mail or People or Tasks or Notes
2. Quit Outlook
3. Re-launch Outlook and switch to Calendar module
Thanks for your feedback and apologies for the inconvenience.”
I updated my Outlook to 15.6 (the latest version) on 3/17. This was a full month after Microsoft acknowledged the problem and gave the workaround.
Doing the steps Microsoft suggests does fix the issue, but only temporarily. The calendar (at least on my computer) reverts back to missing the days of the week. Fixing the calendar involves retracing the steps. The last entry on the forum, from 2/10, suggests that I am not alone.
Now I’m sure that Microsoft will come out with a fix at some point soon to this bug. And yes, bug happen. My question is how in the world Microsoft shipped Outlook for Mac 15.6 without doing the basic QA that would have found this bug? We need to demand more of our software vendors, and Microsoft needs to do better if it is going to build customer trust.
Outlook for Mac has a history of being atrocious. This latest version of Outlook for Mac is miles better than the previous Outlook: Mac 2011. (Which held on to 2014). I very much hope that Microsoft is committed to releasing better software, and better software for Mac users, in the years to come.
Microsoft is starting to do some interesting things once again in the higher education space. I’d hate to see sloppy software releases spoil its reputation in our community just when they are starting to get some traction.
What has been your experience with Microsoft software for the Mac?
Are you an Outlook for Mac user?
Read more by
Opinions on Inside Higher Ed
Inside Higher Ed’s Blog U
What Others Are Reading