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  • Newsletter #393 Preview: Attention Mac Users: Microsoft Makes Good Stuff Too!

    June 10th, 2007

    In part, it’s just politics in play, but the eternal rivalry between Mac and PC users sometimes gets just a little too extreme. I mean, in a world where Bill Gates and Steve Jobs can get along, you’d expect that Microsoft and Apple will, at times, play nicely together too. Indeed, Time magazine refers to Gates and Jobs as “frenemies,” a newly-coined term that describes the situation, where the pair seems to have a close personal relationship, yet head companies that are, at times, fierce competitors.

    I try not to have a knee-jerk reaction to the Mac versus PC argument. While I have criticized Microsoft quite often for the things I think they do wrong, I actually regard computers as just tools to get the job done. Most times, this means that I’ll use my Mac. But there are times where Windows is surely up to the task, even if it’s only because there’s no Mac version of a specific application. Of course, then there’s always Parallels Desktop to the rescue.

    So I’m going to talk about Microsoft in a positive way this time, so let the chips fall where they may.

    One of the best things Microsoft has going for it is their line of input devices. I have used my trusty Microsoft Comfort keyboard — kind of a half-way approach between traditional and ergonomic designs — religiously for well over a year now. My aging fingers took to it as a duck to water, and I can type rapidly and long and not feel the strain. Yes, the dark grays used for its exterior seem drab and dull, but I don’t like at my keyboards much anyway, so I don’t concern myself about such matters.

    Story continued in this week's Tech Night Owl Newsletter.



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    10 Responses to “Newsletter #393 Preview: Attention Mac Users: Microsoft Makes Good Stuff Too!”

    1. Andrew says:

      With the single exception of Word 6, which was a straight Windows port, Microsoft has consistently put out great Mac software.  I've been with Word since version 4 (had a nice "run in RAM" feature), stayed with 5.1 until the 6.1 patch at least made Word 6 usable, and have been in love since Word 98.  Entourage, as you mentioned, is close to perfect (better multi-user exchange support would make it perfect) and Excel has become so good that I don't even look at alternatives anymore.

      Microsoft keyboards, as you mentioned, are excellent (I have a pair of wireless desktops at my office) and I've used their mice for almost two decades as well.  All in all, pretty good stuff. 

      And lets not forget the single most important thing Microsoft gives Mac users, compatibility.  Without GENUINE Office for Mac, our platform of choice would clearly not have the popularity it has.  Open Source or commercial alternatives may be great programs, but having to run documents through import and export conversion every time will often break complex formatting and waste a lot of time.  Yes, you can run Cross-Over or a virtual machine, but typical non-technical users won't go to that much trouble.

    2. With the single exception of Word 6, which was a straight Windows port, Microsoft has consistently put out great Mac software. I've been with Word since version 4 (had a nice "run in RAM" feature), stayed with 5.1 until the 6.1 patch at least made Word 6 usable, and have been in love since Word 98. Entourage, as you mentioned, is close to perfect (better multi-user exchange support would make it perfect) and Excel has become so good that I don't even look at alternatives anymore.

      Microsoft keyboards, as you mentioned, are excellent (I have a pair of wireless desktops at my office) and I've used their mice for almost two decades as well. All in all, pretty good stuff.

      And lets not forget the single most important thing Microsoft gives Mac users, compatibility. Without GENUINE Office for Mac, our platform of choice would clearly not have the popularity it has. Open Source or commercial alternatives may be great programs, but having to run documents through import and export conversion every time will often break complex formatting and waste a lot of time. Yes, you can run Cross-Over or a virtual machine, but typical non-technical users won't go to that much trouble.

      Yes, I remember the Word 6 debacle well. I was writing a book at the the time and receiving beta copies. I told them it was a dog, and they wouldn't listen. But I suspect others did as well. But they sure learned their lesson, didn't they?

      Peace,
      Gene

    3. Sam Elowitch says:

      Microsoft has made perhaps three good products in its history: Excel, Windows NT, and the original Xbox. Considering the millions it has spent in research and development, however, one would think they might have more to show for it by now.

    4. Microsoft has made perhaps three good products in its history: Excel, Windows NT, and the original Xbox. Considering the millions it has spent in research and development, however, one would think they might have more to show for it by now.

      Always good to hear from you Sam.

      I disagree. I think Entourage is the best email application out there. Not perfect by any means, but my overall favorite, and I've tried everything, over and over again. I keep coming back.

      Peace,
      Gene

    5. Sam Elowitch says:

      Thanks for the nice greeting, Gene.

      You know, I didn't really consider Entourage, and you're right, it's a very solid email client, right up there with Mail.app and Thunderbird. I currently rotate among the three whether I get mad. None of these three are without flaws and IMAP is particularly hard to implement (at least for me) without problems. I do wish we'd get an upgrade to Office for Mac already (I hear one is slated for this year).

    6. Thanks for the nice greeting, Gene.

      You know, I didn’t really consider Entourage, and you’re right, it’s a very solid email client, right up there with Mail.app and Thunderbird. I currently rotate among the three whether I get mad. None of these three are without flaws and IMAP is particularly hard to implement (at least for me) without problems. I do wish we’d get an upgrade to Office for Mac already (I hear one is slated for this year).

      They're still talking second half of the year for Office 2008. I don't know much about enhancements to Entourage, but I've made my views known to them :)

      Peace,
      Gene

    7. Sam Elowitch says:

      If Entourage 2008 a runs natively on Intel-based Macs and is of reasonably good quality, I'll probably buy it.

      Meanwhile, I really want to love Thunderbird, but getting the new-message notification to work properly under IMAP has been a nightmare for me.

      Also, Mail.app handles attachments much better than TB, and the large files download much more quickly and have fewer errors, in my experience.

      Entourage gets high marks for AppleScript support, which Mail.app has too, and for its ease-of-use. It's pretty robust. Doesn't support the Apple Address Book, though. I tend to just use an LDAP server for that.

    8. Just a fast comment, Sam: Entourage 2004 was upgraded a while back to provide sync support with Address Book, iCal and .Mac. Not perfect, but workable. Recent updates also make it run more efficiently on an Intel-based Mac.

      Peace,
      Gene

    9. Andrew says:

      What I want in Entourage 08 is the ability to log onto another Exchange user's calendar. This is child's play in Outlook for Windows, but Entourage, to my knowledge at least, only lets you access your own Exchange calendar, and to give another user access would also give that user access to your email, which you might not want to do.

      Other than the single vs. multi user Exchange support, I'm with Gene, Entourage is about the best email client on either platform, and that its also a terrific PIM is just icing on the cake.

    10. Sam Elowitch says:

      Pardon me as I ascend my soapbox:

      What I want in Entourage 08 is the ability to log onto another Exchange user’s calendar. This is child’s play in Outlook for Windows, but Entourage, to my knowledge at least, only lets you access your own Exchange calendar, and to give another user access would also give that user access to your email, which you might not want to do.

      Other than the single vs. multi user Exchange support, I’m with Gene, Entourage is about the best email client on either platform, and that its also a terrific PIM is just icing on the cake.

      A "terrific" PIM? Are you serious? Entourage is stuck in the same "all info about one person in one record" model that should have been retired years ago. Think about it: Is there any really good way to represent in Entourage (or virtually any other PIM save a few) a married couple with the same home address, phones, emails, etc. but different work address, phones, emails, etc. (and maybe different last names, too). Didn't think so.

      We're all stuck with ridiculous schemes for that. For example, if Betty Smith is married to John Jones, I end up having three entries minimum; one for info just on John, a second for info just on Betty, and a third for that info that they have in common. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

      I am hoping one day there will be a PIM that leverages the power of the relational database model, where each person, place, and thing (email address, phone number, etc.) are separate records arranged in tables referenced by numeric keys. I'm working on just such a thing now, because I'm sick of arbitrary limits on how many phone numbers I can have, for example.

      ust a fast comment, Sam: Entourage 2004 was upgraded a while back to provide sync support with Address Book, iCal and .Mac. Not perfect, but workable. Recent updates also make it run more efficiently on an Intel-based Mac.

      Peace,
      Gene

      Good to know. I stand corrected.

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