A few days ago I posted a rather petulant rant about list support in Microsoft Word, partly in response to a Brian Jones post about list support in the OpenDocument format.

My post was about the painful interface to multilevel lists introduced in Word 97 which has been through some minor tweaking and improvement over subsequent versions. I have since decided that a more constructive approach would be more useful, so I started planning a how-to post for people wanting to use lists without tears.

Meanwhile, to my great surprise I got an email message from a Microsoft PM (that means program manager, I think) called Stuart Stuple. Stuart has taken the time to reply to some of the issues I raised. More needs to be exchanged there before I can report.

But being able to rant and rave in public and have direct contact from someone in Microsoft is a huge and very welcome change from the treatment I got in 1997 when it seemed that you had to pay for a support call to report a bug.

When Robert Scoble says that Microsoft is listening then I can tell you that’s true. He says “we watch blogs for the harshest commentary and see if we can get straight answers for you”. I wonder if it was this comment of mine about Word’s list galleries which qualified as harsh I said:

This is one the worst bits of interface design in the history of computing.

I’ll correspond with Stuart and see if I can get the straight answers I want. We have made a good start, though. As part of that discussion I’ll write up my ‘how to’ for lists in Microsoft Word.


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