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Microsoft Education Software

High School Students Compete In 'Microsoft Office Championship' (latimes.com) 103

An anonymous reader writes: This week the L.A. Times described a 17-year-old from Virginia who'd spent several hours a day perfecting his technique in Microsoft Excel, "one of 150 students from 50 countries competing in the Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship" at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. "At stake: cash, prizes and the clout that comes with being the best in the world at Excel, PowerPoint or Word. 'I'm going to do my best to bring it home for the United States,' John said as he prepared for the competition."

Microsoft's VP of Worldwide Education said the event helps students "to become more employable to companies that build their businesses around the Microsoft suite." For example, the article points out, "Past winners have gone on to attend Ivy League colleges and even work at, yes, Microsoft... Delaware resident Anirudh Narayanan, 17, prepared all summer to compete in the Excel 2013 category, 'looking up obscure facts just in case I might need to know it during the test.' He's hoping the skills he honed will help him at Carnegie Mellon University, where he will begin studying economics in the fall. 'I make sure I do a minimum of five hours a week in Excel,' Anirudh said. 'Then for a while I'll be on YouTube watching videos about Excel.'"

John eventually won the first-place prize in the Excel category -- which was $7,000 and an Xbox.

High School Students Compete In 'Microsoft Office Championship'

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  • April Fool! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 06, 2017 @05:56PM (#54952177)

    Wait... today is not April 1st.

    W.T.F.???

    • What's the job? Administrative Assistant? I thought the key criteria there was being attractive.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Excel is used heavily in scientific analysis of data.
        • Re: April Fool! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Sunday August 06, 2017 @07:09PM (#54952649)

          More's the pity.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I think most GC's and such write their own software now that you pay for or come bundled. I dont know any that still rely on Excel.

        • So is Matlab and Gnuplot. The difference is, they're actually useful.
        • Re: April Fool! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Monday August 07, 2017 @04:09AM (#54954531)

          Excel is used heavily in scientific analysis of data.

          An extraordinary claim like needs a bit more detail - as well as quotations. Spreadsheets are no doubt useful for quick and dirty ad-hoc calculations, and one can imagine a scientist running a limited data set through one, while deciding on which model to build on a massively parallel super computer - which BTW most likely runs Linux - but spreadsheets are meant to be used primarily by managers and their assistants. I think one big limitation with a spreadsheet is that it is two-dimensional and cannot easily be modified to model a larger number of dimensions; it also sort of sits between specialities: it is like a database, with each sheet being a bit like a table, but you would never replace a database with it. You can perform calculations - even quite complicated ones - but you would never use it for serious number crunching; at the end of the day, your calculations are interpreted, not compiled, and you are running on a desktop computer, not TFLOPS hardware, and many real datasets contain billions of rows.

          • Spreadsheets are no doubt useful for quick and dirty ad-hoc calculations, and one can imagine a scientist running a limited data set through one

            Ah, but you see, the vast majority of scientific papers do involve limited data sets, and yes, these have often been processed by nothing more than a spreadsheet. Building a special supercomputer for that would qualify as "premature optimization" (as well as an unbelievable waste of time) if there ever was such thing.

            Though that spreadsheet may just as well have been Libreoffice calc - at least in some branches of science, FOSS is far more popular than in the "mainstream". Excel has zero special merit in th

      • Financial analysts LOVE Excel for their financial models. Junior analysts spend so much time using it that their bosses often take away their mice and force them to learn all of the keyboard shortcuts to improve their productivity.

      • good for the hourly wage students since basicly every office uses ms office products.
      • a close second is being on the pill.

    • Clearly the kid just wanted to excel
  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Sunday August 06, 2017 @06:00PM (#54952197)
    they got paid
    • Yeah, it makes me hate Microsoft a little more somehow, but you can't blame kids for getting paid. Seven grand and an Xbox? Pretty sweet if you ask me.

      • Re: good for them (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 06, 2017 @06:19PM (#54952317)

        The kid put in 3500 hours of studying so that works out to $2.00/hour. That minimum wage clerical job waiting for him is gonna look pretty juicy.

        • Why would they need to study? A lot of practice w/ documents, spreadsheets (including pivot tables) and presentations (including embedded worksheets w/ animations) would get them there.
        • Re: good for them (Score:5, Insightful)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday August 06, 2017 @07:35PM (#54952805) Homepage Journal

          The kid put in 3500 hours of studying so that works out to $2.00/hour. That minimum wage clerical job waiting for him is gonna look pretty juicy.

          Of all the Microsoft applications he could have put time into, Excel is probably the best. The skills learned there will transfer to other spreadsheets just fine, and they are really very useful tools.

          As a kid I was fascinated by weird computers and operating systems. There were a lot of them around because I lived in Santa Cruz, worked for Silicon Engineering (originally Sequoia Semiconductor) and Cisco (in the office formerly known as TGV) and hung out with students of UCSC which was a fairly early internet presence... and also employees of pre-Caldera SCO. My Unix hobbyism led to my first sysadmin job, and my early website (with all kinds of fringey content on it, no less) led to my working for Tivoli (just post IBM buyout) in Austin, because the recruiter at the time saw it and then contacted me.

          Aren't we supposed to celebrate nerdism here? The spreadsheet was arguably the first useful application designed for non-programmers.

          • by swb ( 14022 )

            I love Excel. I was never a math whiz but Excel lets me play with math in ways I couldn't on paper.

          • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

            Aren't we supposed to celebrate nerdism here? The spreadsheet was arguably the first useful application designed for non-programmers.

            The spreadsheet was arguably the first killer app for a personal computer (not using PC because I don't want to refer to IBM PCs). VisiCalc was the app, and your computer was useless unless it had a copy of VisiCalc for it. And yes, all the major 8-bit PCs of the era had VisiCalc.

            It was the reason anyone needed a PC - a business owner could justify getting a PC for VisiCalc be

      • Yeah, it makes me hate Microsoft a little more somehow, but you can't blame kids for getting paid. Seven grand and an Xbox? Pretty sweet if you ask me.

        Does $7000 and an XBox really make up for all the times he's been stuffed in a locker with an Atomic Wedgie?

        • Some while ago the Onion had an article about office workers who wanted to do that to a colleague who tells them they are using MS-Office "wrong" because they are not availing themselves of the latest shortcuts.

    • by unixisc ( 2429386 ) on Sunday August 06, 2017 @06:38PM (#54952421)
      Did this championship get opened by cutting a ribbon? That would have been ironically funny
  • No... just no.

    Should my kids ever get to this, I'll disown them.

  • Let's have a LibreOffice [libreoffice.org] championship.

    LibreOffice needs improvements in its user interface. Those who compete could suggest improvements.
  • by Nick ( 109 )
    Paging r/LateStageCapitalism
  • This program is, what, a quarter million a year and they get a ton of users and press out of it? Smart move.

  • AKA (Score:5, Funny)

    by bobstreo ( 1320787 ) on Sunday August 06, 2017 @06:34PM (#54952395)

    The Microsoft Special Olympics.

  • I died inside. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zobeid ( 314469 ) on Sunday August 06, 2017 @06:39PM (#54952427)

    This article kills my soul.

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Sunday August 06, 2017 @07:19PM (#54952687)

    "Past winners have gone on to attend Ivy League colleges..."

    You took on volunteer work. You enrolled in AP courses. You maintained a perfect 4.4 GPA, and never missed a day of school. All in hopes of having that Ivy League college accept you, only to find your bitch ass got passed up by the kid who won a fucking Excel contest.

    Ahh, no one says you're doing it wrong quite like Microsoft.

    • I'll take some guy who won an excel contest over some brain dead Ivy League can't count to 10 MBA grad any day.

      And why the hell does volunteer work have anything to do with getting into a university!

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I'll take some guy who won an excel contest over some brain dead Ivy League can't count to 10 MBA grad any day.

        And why the hell does volunteer work have anything to do with getting into a university!

        There's a reason "some guy" was paid in gaming systems. He's not worth much more than that.

      • >> And why the hell does volunteer work have anything to do with getting into a university!

        Top tier universities have scores of academically qualified candidates. They make the bulk of their decisions on extracurricular activities like volunteer work.

        I don't agree with it, but it is what it is.

        • So what you're saying is your academic qualification system is flawed in that it caps out and grades top tier applicants equally so they can no longer be distinguished on academic merit, and that rather than your most academically excellent minded youngsters being put forward you've reduced it to a popularity contest.

          • > Popularity Contest

            Yep, that's how it works. The admissions board has "broad discretion" and makes decisions based on academics, the student essay, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, and race.

            I'm not saying that's how it should be; I'm saying how it is.

            Candidly I don't feel that this is the first problem we should work on though. If I could sole one-and-only-one issue with college I'd choose to fix the cost problem long before I worked on admissions.

            • Yes I agree with that. Resolve the issue that only rich people have a right to education before deciding which rich person is smarter. Sadly I don't anticipate either problem will be solved this generation.

          • So what you're saying is your academic qualification system is flawed in that it caps out and grades top tier applicants equally so they can no longer be distinguished on academic merit, and that rather than your most academically excellent minded youngsters being put forward you've reduced it to a popularity contest.

            Politicians have been kissing babies since the 19th century. That "flawed" system has existed for a long fucking time.

            No matter how irrational it may seem, completely unrelated bullshit appeals to the masses.

            And yeah, I hate bullshit as much as you do.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This reminds me of the old joke about MCSE. Back in the day, MCSE was supposed to mean "Microsoft Certified Software Engineer", but people read it as "Minesweeper Certified Solitaire Expert."

  • wiki the Easter Egg in Excel 1995

  • Would it count as child abuse? I mean it is already iffy what the Indian parents do putting their children through for the spelling bee championships. Honey Boo Boo also would make one wonder when the line gets crossed. But this is definitely over the top. Friends don't led their friends put their children through MS-Office championships....
  • Congratulations to John Dumoulin, for winning in the Excel category. :-)

    I'd suggest that Microsoft add another prize - the chance to talk with the person in charge of MS Office, and tell them how to improve it.

    It's good to get the perspective of a user. When we write code, we know how it works, so we're not as aware that labels or error messages are unclear. And if we figured out a clever way to solve a problem regarding feature X, it's easy to let pride convince us to include feature X. We might need to he

    • by Misagon ( 1135 )

      What would they know? I find it unlikely that these kids would have had anything to compare with. To them, the latest Microsoft Office would already be the pinnacle of user interfaces.
      It is already so much more intuitive than the crap Web 3.0 UI on phones and on the web these days.

    • Congratulations to John Dumoulin, for winning in the Excel category. :-)

      I'd suggest that Microsoft add another prize - the chance to talk with the person in charge of MS Office, and tell them how to improve it.

      It's good to get the perspective of a user. When we write code, we know how it works, so we're not as aware that labels or error messages are unclear. And if we figured out a clever way to solve a problem regarding feature X, it's easy to let pride convince us to include feature X. We might need to hear a user tell us that feature X should be removed, because it's not useful.

      So Microsoft should ask a contest winner about the value of Office features?

      What's next, Jeff Gordon looking for driving tips from the guy who kicks ass at GTA? Perhaps John Mayer would enjoy discussing technical riffs with a Guitar Hero champion.

      Yes, I agree we should ask users for feedback. The kid holding a trophy with exactly zero real world experience, ain't it.

  • Augmenting any office product with VBA (hello, VB6, my old and dear fiend :D) can lead to some pretty interesting stuff.
  • This is only slightly more weird than spelling bees.
  • ..there exist people in this word that understand why the autocomplete does the things it does?
  • $7000 is good but an xbox seems like a bit of a consolation prize - why not a ps4?

  • .. Delaware resident Anirudh Narayanan, 17, prepared all summer to compete in the Excel 2013 category,

    What happened to summer? when i was 17 it was: hanging out with friends in your favourite spot in the evening, playing mutiplayer games on warm evenings, going biking, swimming, and just learn whatever 1-5 evening programming project fit in into this schedule.

  • Let's see:
    - Running a marathon is difficult and unpleasant
    - There are championships in the discipline of running marathons
    Ergo: Microsoft Office is difficult and unpleasant
    Ergo: Microsoft Office is not user-friendly

    (Disclaimer: yeah yeah, I know this is a textbook example of the fallacy of the converse. It's an attempt at humor.)

  • Frankly, I was not aware of this contest. This article puts me in a direction that I may research more to make the apps class more interesting.

    Yes, I find systems dynamics software more interesting than excel; but Excel is what I am required to teach.

    Good job to the article submitter.

  • Disneyland and M$ Office competition in one sentence goes really well together.

The IBM purchase of ROLM gives new meaning to the term "twisted pair". -- Howard Anderson, "Yankee Group"

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