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Quickoffice Not Ready For Prime Time

Walt Mossberg has reviewed the recently released Quickoffice product for the Apple iPhone and recommended you hold off until this summer when some of the major issues are to be fixed.
Walt Mossberg has reviewed the recently released Quickoffice product for the Apple iPhone and recommended you hold off until this summer when some of the major issues are to be fixed.The big issues include, but are not limited to:

  • Unable to edit spreadsheets in landscape mode
  • Unable to use all word processing features in landscape mode
  • No support for Office 2007/2008 .docx/.xlsx formats
  • No support to open files from email attachments
  • No spell check or auto-correct features

These drawbacks are no small issues. I've enjoyed Office file support on Windows Mobile devices since the Pocket PC 2000 shipped. Microsoft got rid of the old "Pocket" file formats that required desktop conversion between a PC and Pocket PC, now called Windows Mobile. This means you can easily send and receive email attachments to co-workers. Mossberg's article mentions a workaround for this issue that involves typing in an IP address and getting the file off of your computer. That means your computer has to be on and you have to have it set up to where you can access files from anywhere in the world to be of much use. That is a show-stopper to me.

I use Excel and Word on my Windows Mobile device mostly for reviewing and doing small edits, though occasionally I'll write up articles and blogs using Word Mobile. Not being able to edit spreadsheets in landscape mode is painful. Spreadsheets are almost always more useful with more columns displayed than rows. If spreadsheets are your thing, this could be another show-stopper.

As for file formats, some of you may be rolling your eyes at the new XML formats being unsupported, but when it comes to mobile devices, the new formats have one key advantage over the older .DOC/.XLS formats - they are automatically compressed. This means 2MB XLS files may be closer to 200-400KB XLSX files. I've seen them shrink even further depending on the content. The same goes with Word files. This means faster emailing and lower storage requirements on the device and your email account. This is handy when your device is in a slower GPRS or EDGE service area. If for no other reason than that, it is worth considering moving to the new formats, even on your PC. You can use the new file format in Office 2003 with a Compatibility Pack from Microsoft.

The spell check feature isn't a killer, but in this day and age, any word processor should have that capability, even on your phone. I know I'd never consider sending an important document composed from my phone without spell checking it. I have such a hard time with some words I have to change a few vowels and re-attempt the spell check until it recognizes what I was trying to spell. "Hierarchy" anyone?

It is good that the iPhone has an office suite for it, but at a bare minimum, seamless email attachments should be supported. Anything less makes this a tool for experienced geeks only, and not a very convenient tool at that. I agree with Mossberg's assessment. Wait until you know these features have been fixed before plunking down $19.99 of your hard earned cash.