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Back to Work

Entry 1357, on 2012-02-03 at 10:02:12 (Rating 3, Computers)

Note: This blog entry was written in mid January but somehow failed to get posted. Since I went to all the trouble of writing it I thought it was still worth presenting here, even if it is a bit late...

After a break of about three weeks over Christmas I am back at work today. That is always a challenge but today has been particularly interesting! Before I even arrived I got a cell phone call from someone experiencing problems with Microsoft Word hanging - I know, that hardly ever happens! (sarcasm)

And now I have just finished setting up a PC (I am a Mac specialist and hate PCs) which was hideously slow and yes, Internet Explorer (which I only ran for 30 seconds) crashed, followed by the printer installation program hanging. So it's got to get better from here.

One positive note is that I spending the last three days of the week in Auckland working on some computers up there, so that will be a nice break (although still work).

I do find that, even though I am a Mac consultant and programmer, most of my problems are caused by Microsoft products. In all the time I have used Pages it has never crashed on me where I almost expect Word to crash several times if I'm working on a document of any complexity. Of course, I don't use Word myself unless I really have to, but I do support a lot of people who do.

And I get more issues with Exchange based email than any other type. Again Microsoft products destroy the elegance and reliability of the Mac experience. I do avoid using Exchange for email as much as possible but that isn't always totally practical.

I often wonder how much better the world would be if Microsoft hadn't wormed its way into the dominant position it is in now. What would have happened if we had genuine innovation going on? Look at the progress in areas not dominated by Microsoft (tablets, cell phones, etc) and they seem a lot better than the world of PCs.

Not that I should complain too much because, as I intimated above, I refuse to use Microsoft junk unless I am really backed into a corner. Generally that means I am helping out a client who has to use a Microsoft program for some reason.

The most common reasons for using Microsoft software are interesting. In my experience the most common is "that's what everyone else uses", closely followed by "that's what I was given" and "I didn't know there was an alternative".

Licensing agreements sometimes make using Office almost compulsory. If an organisation pays a large sum every year for a site license it makes sense to use that licensed software even though it might be better economy if there was a choice.

There are genuine reasons to use it too. The "everyone else uses it" argument is valid because sharing documents with someone using a different program does introduce an extra layer of complexity. And I will admit that Microsoft programs do tend to be fairly feature rich (they do a lot of things very badly) which is an important factor for some people.

So it is a tough one. I am convinced that if Microsoft hadn't reached the monopoly situation it is now in we would all be better off, but now that it is there in many ways it is just easier for most people to accept the inevitable and use its products, despite how frustrating an experience that is, especially for someone who has seen how much better similar software from other companies usually is.


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