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Why does Microsoft hate Visio?

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  • ManipUni

    Microsoft hates Visio. Here is why:   

     - Microsoft Office Home & Student 2010: $124.81    
    Microsoft Outlook 2010: $109.99  
    Microsoft Visio Standard 2010: $209.77 

    And even worse Visio standard has most of the neat features stripped out: 

     - floor plan 
     - Engineering diagrams 
     - Web site mapping 
     - et al    

    I keep saying to people "use Visio for that" and I keep hearing back "What is Visio?" Since most people don't have access to it and the few who do have access aren't aware of it because they lack the training.  

    The other annoying thing is that nobody pays for Visio. Which is to say that large companies get it for "free" as part of their inexpensive Office licences, and small business don't need it enough to pay the insane prices as above. 

    How many Visio standard stand-alone licences does Microsoft sell a year? One? The page has only 8 reviews compared to 400+ for Office and 100 for Outlook stand-alone.   

    Outlook for $100 almost seems reasonable. But who pays $200 for Visio? It is great but $200 of greatness? Can you imagine if they tried to charge $200 for something like OneNote or PowerPoint? 

    Plus Microsoft are just forcing people into using largely free HTML5 services. These services are getting better and better too, and frankly with Microsoft hiding Visio in a corner I don't see that trend ever turning around.    

    PS - I actually really love Visio; but I only have access because of work. I cannot get a copy at home. The pricing/availability is too moronic.    

  • ryanb

    I agree.  Visio is great -- I could hardly get along without it.  But I am stuck with Visio 2000 (after having my 2003 license taken away), and can't get anything newer.  Our fancy Corporate Office licenses do not cover things like Visio and Project.  We used to have to buy Visio licenses separately.  Now we are not even allowed to buy it.

    Visio has always been too expensive and too unknown.  Most people don't even know about it.  (I see a lot of people saying "what's Visio" as they struggle to draw block diagrams in Excel.)  It seems like MS is trying to make it go away.  I know the sales volumes are low, but it has no marketing or store presence, and many can't afford it if they can find it.

  • Proton2

    I used to use Visio for UML diagrams. I stopped doing UML diagrams and just write the code instead. Also, Visual Studios class diagram feature is something I use as a replacement to some of what UML was used for.

  • Bass

    I just use Dia. It's not as great as Visio but it gets the job done.

  • DCMonkey

    , Bass wrote

    I just use Dia. It's not as great as Visio but it gets the job done.

    Ugh. That was the one with the GIMP style UI. I'd rather use xfig than that.

    I love Visio, but my most recent version is 2003. I remember when I first used the demo that came on a floppy with Office or whatever it came with (before MS bought Shapeware).


  • Bass


    The Windows version uses a single window (I think? Haven't used it on Windows in awhile). I actually prefer the multi-window approach on GNU/Linux because it makes it easier to use dual monitors, and virtual desktops / tags make it pretty simple to manage.

  • DCMonkey

    , Bass wrote


    The Windows version uses a single window (I think? Haven't used it on Windows in awhile). I actually prefer the multi-window approach on GNU/Linux because it makes it easier to use dual monitors, and virtual desktops / tags make it pretty simple to manage.

    The old GIMP style multi-window approach would have been OK if they'd bothered to make tool windows stay on top of the document window like in Photoshop. Instead you had to carefully arrange everything to not overlap. I don't know if they ever fixed that.

    But yeah it looks like Dia has a more sane UI now on both Windows and Linux.




  • AndyC

    Visio always struck me as over-complicated for what most people wanted to do with it but never quite powerful enough for really heavy usage. If it could hit that sort of sweet spot, like Word and Excel, then I think the price issues would be easier to resolve (higher demand = lower pricing). As it stands, it's a bit too niche for mass usage (which makes you wonder why it comes in Standard and Pro versions)

  • SimonJ

    Visio has never been bundled with any Office suite as far as I know. It has always been a stand-alone application just like Project.

  • figuerres

    also i think some of the things it does are now in other tools so that we have less need to use it.

    for example in VS we have class diagrams and EF model diagrams etc....

    in SQL EM  we have database diagrams.

    as i recall when Visio first came out none of that was there, so you really needed it back then.


  • giovanni

    @ManipUni:Visio is a great tool but it actually does too many things: I think it would improve a lot if it could be only about diagrams (there are better programs for floor diagrams, etc.). This could actually make it a lot cheaper.

    I think a different tool could be very interesting: how about an Office converter that allows to import DWG, SVG, EPS into DrawingML? This would allow to use more specific tools to create the drawings/diagrams and them use these directly into Office programs.

  • DeathBy​VisualStudio

    I try and use the Office drawing tools or the drawing tools in OneNote (no grouping of shapes, ug!) and always go back to Visio because it's faster and easier. I know I don't use more than 10% of Visio's power but I'd like Microsoft to keep it (or its drawing paradigm) around for awhile. It would be nice if Microsoft unified Visio basic drawing + Office drawing + OneNote drawing into all of their Office apps someday.

    If we all believed in unicorns and fairies the world would be a better place.
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  • kettch

    @DeathByVisualStudio: Go a step further and include the diagram components from Visual Studio and SQL Management Studio so that there would be one set of consistent diagramming tools across products. Then Visio would be able to natively read/write VS class diagrams and EDMX's and SQL diagrams that could be moved between other products.

  • ScottWelker


    Another MS product I no longer recommend and seldom use. Instead, I use Visual Studio Ultimate models augmented by Balsamiq Mockups and/or Gliffy diagrams.

    It became too time consuming and frustrating to determine which specific Visio package (SKU) was needed. Features were simply eliminated (e.g. Visual Studio Integration for fwd/rev engineering), crippled, or moved to some not-readily-identifiable product packaging. Bewildering :-/

    BTW: 1GB MSDN download (x86/x64 w/ SP1). Really? 1GB? Good grief.

  • itsnotabug

    I was looking for a diagramming tool that would export graphml and for my needs yEd was the best. Its just a demo for their api but its free:

    I couldn't find a way for Visio to do it and Dia was buggy.

  • exoteric

    I've long felt Visio is a neglected product. It has much more potential but it doesn't seem like Microsoft is putting all that much energy into it, considering how many people actually use it and pay for it. On the other hand I don't even like the default Word styles. The spacing between headlines and paragraphs and coloring irks me. I guess LaTeX is still the way to go for really beautiful documents. The true gem is of course Excel.

    @itsnotabug It's kind of interesting if Visio doesn't do graph layout or doesn't do it well, since Microsoft Research made a commercial graph layout library.

  • Wambenger

    Stay with visio 2003. visio 2007 is so bad as to be unusable (2007 power point isn't so great either).

  • Harlequin

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