Saturday, October 24, 2009
Top 10 List: Microsoft Wins...
I'm a big-time Machead, and tend to only use Windows when I'm required to. Recently, though, I've been using it more; using it with Sound Forge 10 for sample editing, doing Processing development there and generally enjoying the system. It helps that my (now operational) HP Pavilion dv3 system is pretty sexy, and I bought an additional battery pack that will work for a reasonable period of time.
Anyway, in celebration of Windows 7 (which I'm going to pick up today, I think), I thought it would be fun to do a Top 10 list of Microsoft Wins. They get beat up for not being innovative, but some of their decisions have made modern computing the Good Thing that it is today. So here goes...
Top 10 Microsoft Wins (from my perspective):
10. Bing. I know, I know - it's an also-ran in the search department. But have you actually used it? It is so much superior to the Google "I paid for top spot, so you are going to get my link jammed into your face" results that it's ridiculous. Getting out of the habit of "google.com"'ing is a little tough, but the Bing results page is exactly what I want. Oh, and it came complete with a great set of ads!
9. DirectX. There are a lot of anti-DirectX sentiments out there, but the only real competition is from a hodge-podge of OpenGL and other BS interfaces - none of them coordinated, and none of them particularly stable. By creating a system that is able to embrace all of the various media types, Microsoft has create a beast that not other system can match. Yeah, and don't talk to me about Apple's Core Whatever systems. Zzzzz....
8. Gaming for Adults. I hate to even mention this, because grown-up gaming is one of those things that nobody wants to talk about. A lot of people (including, for example, my wife) claim to hate computer games and all they stand for. But, of course, getting a chance to play FreeCell along with the morning cuppa coffee is acceptable. The fact is that the basic games that come with Windows are commercial quality monsters, and the Mah Jongg game that shipped with Vista makes me tear up. Just don't tell anyone I'm spending hours on the thing.
7. Super-broad hardware support. You know what? Sometimes I just need to use a touch-screen display. Or maybe a crazy new audio interface, bar code reading device or Blu-ray DVD burner. As much as I love Apple, I hate having to choose from their list of 20 printers or 3 display devices. When I have to do bleeding-edge hardware, I'm almost always using a Windows box.
6. SQL Server. I've got some friends that are running a development business that works with large document storage and support. They've used a number of database systems, and they now swear by SQL Server. The developer support is great, the database is super-stable and deployment is easy enough (once you get used to it). I remember the rocky roads with database development, and it is great to see a company like Microsoft take on this mundane utility. Also, it's nice to see someone give Oracle a run for their money.
5. Third party software vendor support. Any platform that can support Sony/Sonic Foundry, Cakewalk, Image-Line Software and other killer companies - and do so over a long period of time - is, by default, a winner. Think about Mac-only companies for a minute: Opcode, Casady & Greene and others suffered for hitching their wagon to the Mac OS. Makes me very worried for MOTU (a company with some of the nicest - and smartest - people in the world).
4. Corporate Determination. One thing that I really appreciate about Microsoft is their determination to stick with something, even when it doesn't seem to be working out. What (for the broadsheet press) seems like failure may be exactly what a vertical market needs - and Microsoft isn't willing to abandon this market on a whim. A good example is Windows Mobile. Right now, it is being written off as dead meat. But my wife's book business is built around this unit, and she has been able to continue upgrading over the years with very little pain. Imagine if she had built her business around a Newton, Go or other Superior Technology. Thanks, Microsoft, for sticking with the hard stuff.
3. Microsoft Office. I can hear the moans from here. Sure, it is pretty bloated, and 90% of the stuff you get is unneeded. For you. What about me? I use this package several hours a day, every day of my life. I have for the past many, many years. You will pry MS Office out of my cold dead hands, baby. This software rocks!
2. Scalable product development. Any co2pany that creates software to support server farms while still supporting Netbooks gets a tip of my cap. The Netbooks phenomena is really exciting, and there are a lot of people that are computer-mobile using teeny-tiny Windows boxes that can fit in their purses or glove boxes. Anything that gets more people using gear is OK by me.
1. The Visual Studio development environment. By creating a development system that empowers the programmer, they've created an environment that allows third-party developers succeed - no matter how they prefer to work. Visual Studio has defined the de facto work environment for programmers, and has forced XCode, Eclipse and others to chase their overwhelmingly useful environment.