27 Jun 2003
(updated 27 Jun 2003 at 18:49 UTC) »
POV - Had an interesting debate with a local cube dweller about the new G5 macs. He argued for quite sometime about how microsoft and PCs had always been the place to be, and how Apple could never be as good. He insisted that he wasn't anti-mac, but his blindness that Wintel was the One True Way (tm) was astounding.
Now I use many platforms regularly, and there are many good things to say about most of them. But today, I realized how skewed my own point of view was related to platform zealotry. It really suprised me too, as I consider myself platform agnostic. The really strange part was that I was secretly favouring products from a company that irks me, and only because of the consistent propaganda that I had hoped I was immune too. Even though I don't argue or choose technologies with the marketing-shite mindset, I still have a perception that their software is somehow better than it is.
The years of marketing-hype and constant media assumptions surrounding the quality of the Microsoft office products, indicate that they are somehow better than anything else. I've used these products, and similar products on other platforms, and have bought into this shite. I don't know how, either, because everytime I use Word it annoys me for its many failings ... and this is in a 10+ year old product. By now it should be good, really good. But a few days away from it, and the marketing-hype creeps back in and I find myself critical of other non-Microsoft solutions.
So when I'm using Open office, Abiword, or Gnumeric, I find myself thinking: "Hey, these have really come along. They're almost as good as what Microsoft would do." ... which is complete and utter bunk. They're *better*, in almost every way than the same Microsoft products. And I don't say that because I love open source.
Using Word and Excel a lot this week, I am amazed at quirky and buggy they are. Word bullet lists still stupify me - increasing and decreasing the indents has a random effect on the resulting font and bullet style. I remember this bug from 5 years ago, and it still happens periodically today. The style-editor in Word is a usability joke, 5 levels of modal dialogs to change a style. I noticed several redraw bugs in Excel today, which also suprised me. It didn't stop me from what I had to do, but I was amazed at how quickly I could forget that these products are just average software. The marketing still gets to me, and I know better. I can see where my cube-neighbour gets his mindset, even if it is hook, line, and sinker. Marketing is really the great evil.
I think the recent Apple hardware is cool, but it is spotted with marketing crap. I hope Apple does well, but I am certain that people will make unbalanced arguments about their products too, based mostly on the aura that the Apple marketing machine has worked hard to create. Some people will feel better using Apple products, just because they are Apple products. It ends up usability is partly a product of perception, of how people think they feel about the thing they are buying. And it ends up people are easy to lie to.
As for the quality of Microsoft products, I am probably more critical of Word than I am of Abiword, and conversely more forgiving of Abiword than of Word. Despite the predjudice I pretend not to have, Word is remarkably frustrating to use. It is amature software, a terrible writing tool, and bloated with unusable features. Microsoft has succeeded, though, as a few weeks now I'll forget most of the frustrations ... and remember Word as ubiquitous 'world-class' sofware. It ends up 'world-class' is all about marketing, and that I am a chump.
Even if Apple makes the fastest, sexiest machines, or if open-source produces the best Word processor, people won't buy into it. Or if they do, they'll forget the next time they turn on the TV, or open a magazine. It isn't about quality, or principles. It is about money, and about how often something is heard. People are generally too weak, even when they're discerning, to escape a constant stream of deception.