Saturday, April 23, 2005

Microsoft: Descriptive term for the brains running the company

Here's the biggest laugh I've had this week:

Microsoft developers' design goal for Longhorn, the next generation of the MS operating system, is, "It just works."

That'll be a refreshing change, won't it? Because that certainly isn't a three-word phrase we've been able to use about any other Microsoft product, ever.

Latest example of my Microsoft frustration? Ever since I started working from my new PC about a month ago, I've had nothing but pain in my hindquarters trying to get the preinstalled Outlook 2003 to play nicely with my e-mail. Among its tricks: adding code to the titles of my attachments so they can't be opened by the recipient. After a couple of weeks of having to resend attachments repeatedly — and having my correspondents think me certifiable — I gave up. Today, I downloaded Mozilla's Thunderbird e-mail manager, and I suspect I will be immeasurably happier henceforth.

It's not as though everything Microsoft totally sucks:
  • I've been running the Windows XP platform for the past three years, and (notorious security flaws aside) I mostly love it. It's a quantum leap above any of the previous versions of Windows.
  • After years of suffering with the clunky and error-ridden Word 97, I'm delighted to find that the new PC's preinstalled Word 2003 runs like a champ.
  • I'm a dedicated user and enthusiastic promoter of MS Publisher, which I use for everything from church bulletins and flyers to my company's invoices. (There are tasks Publisher doesn't do well, such as Web site design, but for what I need it to do, it's a remarkable value.) The new version of Publisher seems to have remedied some of the glitches lurking in earlier iterations.
  • I don't have much occasion for PowerPoint very much these days, but when I was using it frequently in my corporate days, I found it a useful and flexible tool.
So I'm not just ripping Microsoft out of hand.

On the other hand, dumping Internet Explorer (or, if you prefer, Infernal Exploder) in favor of Mozilla's Firefox Web browser has made my online life supremely easy. And Outlook has never been my favorite program — I was much happier running Outlook Express on my most recent PC. So I'm looking forward to my relationship with Thunderbird. From what I can tell thus far, it just works.

Oops. Did I say that?

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