Why you think I hate Microsoft

Every popular, or once popular, operating system has its fans. Who doesn’t know an Apple fanboy (or fangirl), with their fervent agreement with every utterance from Steve Jobs and now Tim Cook? Or the Linux freedom fighter, for whom a command line equals “desktop ready”? There are even those that can’t let go of their Amiga.

But there is another group who are surprisingly not as well recognised. Surprising, because theirs is the most popular opeating system of all, at least as far as personal computers are concerned.

I’m talking about Microsoft.

Let’s be clear about something. I use Microsoft products and have done so for decades. My desktop computers all run Windows, including my work laptop. I used to program in Microsoft BASIC and more recently (though somewhat reluctantly) in C# and .Net. I’ve maintained Web servers running IIS and even used FrontPage. At work we use Outlook.

Microsoft do make some good and useful products. But in geekdom Microsoft has traditionally been seen as the Evil Empire, to be distrusted and opposed at every opportunity.

So it has come as a shock to find people jumping out of the woodwork to vigorously and publicly defend Microsoft products from criticism.

Fair enough, you say. If they make good products then they should be supported. However, a closer analysis of the defenders’ arguments actually illustrates the flaws in Microsoft’s traditional strategy and why it has been losing market share.

Yes it is cloud-based allrite, but the fact that you can use it simultaneously across multiple devices with proper version control, op-locking, etc. puts it miles ahead of iOS. Google’s services are okay, but as 90+% of the corporate desktop uses Microsoft Office I don’t bother with it.

And yes, SharePoint is an incredibly helpful suite if used appropriately. Poor user practices and system implementation does not make it an inferior product. But hey, you could always use TRIM or some other form of EDMS if you’re prepared to put up with the pain and lack of mobile support.
SKay, December 11, 2015 
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The above comment illustrates very well the issues.

  1. The comment author assumes that the only corporate environments matter and that only Microsoft is suitable for enterprise environments.
  2. They blame the user for not using the product properly rather than the usability of the product.

SharePoint is my tool of choice for revealing the true corporate Microsoft fan. We once did a competitive evaluation between intranet content management systems and invited representatives from Microsoft to pitch SharePoint. They arrived terribly cocky, assuming their product was the best and couldn’t be bothered to answer the questions we’d sent them, dismissing them away as “You would need to program it”rather than providing them out of the box like the eventual winner did.

I’ve used SharePoint at work. It’s had gaping usability, standards compliance and systems maintenance issues, yet the Microsoft fans insist that it’s suitable for something other than a document sharing platform. Even then it’s a version dependent pain compared with, say, Google Docs. Even Microsoft themselves don’t seem to love it so much any more.

Now that Internet Explorer has won the browser wars.

That was a quote from a course I attended around three years ago about building websites using .Net. It wasn’t true then and it certainly isn’t true today (even Microsoft are dumping IE for Edge), especially with so much browsing done on non-Microsoft phones.

But the true Microsoft fan can’t see that anyone would seriously use a non-Microsoft product. Their world is the corporate world of centrally managed systems where everything is Microsoft. They seem to struggle to acknowledge that there other enterprise players. After all, in their minds, who would use an Oracle database when SQLServer exists? There is a blindness to alternatives.

This course was funny in that it taught web application development from the perspective of a desktop application developer. They thought web pages should look like and act like Windows desktop applications.

Ha ha. Why would you make something that ugly?

Microsoft has a long history of making stuff ups with regards to the Internet and the Web. Rather than stick to agreed third party standards they subverted them with products that produced ugly and bloated code that only worked properly in Microsoft products. I have had enough of trying to fix Microsoft Office and FrontPage generated HTML to last me a lifetime.

You see, Microsoft has traditionally been the enemy of interoperability. You want to use something outside of their environment? You always run into some barrier they’ve erected, some proprietary extension that is required to do what other products can handle almost seamlessly.

To be fair I think Microsoft has been changing under Satya Nadella and embracing a lot more openness and standards, but many of their supporters still seem to be stuck in the old ways. To a Microsoft fan it’s your fault if you want something different. It’s the Microsoft Way or the Highway.

Me, I like the highway. It’s more scenic, usually cheaper and full of interesting things to explore and learn from. And if the diehard Microsoft fan gets in the way? There’s always an alternative route, they just can’t see it for themselves.

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