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Startup Idea/Seeking Developers to Bid on a Project


The Microsoft Office Core Applications

I have a great idea for a product.  I’m looking for an entrepreneur to start a company to provide this product, or a development shop which wants to bid on this project.

The big vision: one of the reason for the high valuation of Box and Dropbox is that they render the underlying hardware irrelevant; you trust them with their data. I envision a software tool which makes your underlying software irrelevant, by standardizing the UI across all different products. Ideally you could say, I prefer the ‘Apple’, ‘Gmail’, or ‘Microsoft Office on a PC’, interface, and all your software and hardware would then have the same UI that matches the native look and feel of said UI.

As background, I’ve recently switched to a Mac after many years of heavy PC use.  I have deep  muscle memory for all the PC keyboard shortcuts, and I really don’t want to relearn and retrain with new keyboard shortcuts.  In addition, inevitably I need to use a PC sometime, and I’m already a bit dysfunctional on the PC because I’ve been learning new Mac muscle memory.  Switching is a hassle.

Office for Mac has shockingly poor design when it comes to keyboard shortcuts.  Many keystrokes don’t have shortcuts, and the shortcuts are not clearly displayed.  The only explanation that makes any sense is the conspiracy theory that Microsoft deliberately crippled Office for Mac in order to promote PC sales.  This is sort of working; with great pain I’m contemplating installing Parallels just so I don’t have to deal with Mac Office.  However, it’s a remarkably shortsighted strategy on Microsoft’s part.

After some (intern) hours searching for a program that eases this transition, I have to admit that there doesn’t seem to be a satisfactory market solution.  Because I believe this is a big enough pain point to create a significant market opportunity, I’m looking for a development team to create a software solution that will:

a)    Make all standard PC shortcuts for Microsoft Office and Windows Explorer work on Office for Mac/Mac OS X.

b)    Label all menu options on the screen with corresponding shortcuts to enable fast learning of those shortcuts, as is standard in Microsoft Office  for the PC.

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c)     Allow instant toggling between native Mac keyboard shortcuts and PC mode keyboard shortcuts.

The minimum viable product would be compatible with the current versions of Microsoft Office and OS X, and expand over time to prior versions of each.

I see 2 ways to build this:

a)    You can start your own company and build this product, and self-fund.  As payment to me for generating this idea, I’ll just ask for complimentary lifetime licenses for all our employees.  (Thanks!)

b)    We might invest in a startup to do this.

Please contact me if you want to pursue any of these.  Apple should buy this product and offer it free, in order to encourage people to switch from PC to a Mac.

Photo: The Microsoft Office Core Applications (credit: Wikipedia) 

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  1. andrewackerman says

    Interesting idea dteten.  I’m still bitter about how Office switched from fixed toolbars to contextually driven ones.  The functions I need all dropped from the new toolbars and are hard or impossible to find.  
    But if you are going to recreate the PC environment on your Mac, why switch in the first place?  

  2. @DTeten – in 2008, I decided to switch my personal computer over to a Mac in order to become “bilingual” in both Windows (at work) and Mac (at home), and also to see what all my Mac friends were raving about.  It worked, but the problem of the shortcut keys was the biggest obstacle (i.e., having to remember different shortcuts on different systems, and the generally inferior state of shortcuts on Office for Mac).  I ultimately stopped using shortcuts as much and reverted to using a mouse without shortcuts in both environments.
    Some lessons I learned:
    1. If you have a Mac laptop, try not to run a Windows Virtual Machine on it with the Office suite for Windows running on that.  This is just too taxing on a laptop’s system resources.  It will slow down the OSX side of your Mac and the Windows side of your Mac.  It will also make your laptop too hot – the bottom of it will become so hot through the workout it is getting that it will become too hot to rest on your lap.  Finally, you’ll wind up spending all your time installing software updates for OSX and Mac software, for your Virtual Machine, for Windows, and for your Windows software – ugh.
    2. If you can, try and move your work and personal productivity suites to Google or something else cloud based (use Google Apps for Business at work and for personal productivity use a personal Google account with Google Docs etc. It’s probably going to be less expensive and you get the benefits of the cloud, like being always up to date,  system agnostic, better suited for collaboration, and less taxing on your laptop’s system.