Microsoft workers unveil Office suggestion site

Unofficial site takes feature/fix requests, lets users vote on ideas

Two Microsoft employees have created an online suggestion box where users can submit feature or fix requests for Office, the company's popular productivity suite., an unsanctioned suggestion solicitation site, was created by Steve Zaske, a planner on the Office development team, and Luke Foust, a Microsoft developer in the test group.

"If you've got a new feature idea or an idea on how to improve Microsoft Office, please share it here," said Zaske and Foust in a debut message on the site. "[And] vote on other ideas you agree with. Through the magic of crowd-sourcing, the best ideas should rise to the top."

Zaske and Foust acknowledged the MakeOfficeBetter was not an official company effort, but said they would "do our best to get the ideas posted here in front of the right people within the Office development team."

As of 3:30 p.m. ET Monday, the top-ranked suggestion was "Improve the HTML support in Outlook," while the No. 2 and No. 3 spots were occupied by "Synchronize Outlook Notes and Tasks" and "Detach Outlook UI from the network thread(s)."

The HTML improvement suggestion points to, a site that protests Microsoft's use of the Word rendering engine -- rather than Internet Explorer's -- to display HTML in Outlook e-mails.

The site, which calls on users to fire off tweets expressing their dislike of Word's engine, sparked a reaction from William Kennedy, a Microsoft executive who runs the Office communications and forms team, and prompted debate about whether Microsoft's decision was a result of legitimate security concerns.

Microsoft has said it's committed to using the Word engine to render HTML in Outlook in Office 2010, the suite's next iteration.

Zaske and Foust didn't spell out whether the suggestions would be taken to heart for Office 2010, or only for versions that follow. Microsoft launched an invite-only technical preview program for Office 2010 a month ago, and so may have locked down most, if not all, features.

Even before Microsoft handed out early copies of Office 2010, builds leaked to file-sharing sites.

Few of the suggestions now listed on MakeOfficeBetter are for Office Web, the for-free scaled-down versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote that will debut at the same time Office 2010 launches.

Microsoft has not yet pegged a ship date for Office 2010, and has said only that it's planning on delivering the suite sometime in the first half of next year.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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