My love/hate relationship with Microsoft

Of course, as everyone who reads this blog, knows that I just love to talk about Microsoft a lot. Microsoft’s a really interesting tech company, because they’re really so big. It’d be hard to think how this world would be if Microsoft never existed. Would things be the same, better or worse? Microsoft has had a big impact in today’s digital technology, some really good, and some plain bad.

                                                                        

However, I think Microsoft has had done more good in the past few years, than bad, and that’s great. Of course, it depends on how you look at what’s good. I tend to be more on the glass if half full opinion about things, rather than trying to find flaws. But sometimes, the flaws really do show.

So here are the things that I just love about Microsoft:

  • Great software/hardware products and technology – I think Microsoft has made wonderful software, that I myself love to use. Not everybody agrees, but here’s some of Microsoft’s software that I find really useful, works well, and love : Windows Live Writer, Office 2007, WMP 11, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Media Center, Zune, Xbox, Keyboards, Mice, and numerous things. On the technology side, I’ve found Virtual Earth, Photosynth, WPF/Silverlight, JPEG XR, SeaDragon, XAML, Mediaroom, and a bunch of other things that I can’t go into. To me, these are great. Really. People who say Microsoft doesn’t make anything of quality, has no idea what they’re talking about.
  • Expressive employees – What other tech company has employees as open and communicative as Microsoft? I mean, not all employees, but a good number of them blog periodically, express their opinions on other things, and some even communicate directly to you. Other companies (like Apple), put this barrier between the company and the consumer, and I don’t like that. I mean really, do you know any other employees from the big tech companies that have a good number of employees that blog and communicate on the web to the people? I don’t think so.
  • Wide plethora of products/services – Microsoft has pretty much a foothold of some kind in almost every part of the technology world. From the office to your living room. From the desktop to your phone. It’s hard to walk out in this world and not see something of Microsoft’s. With a lot of products/services everywhere, there should be a lot of integration and compatibility amongst them. Well sometimes, I question the whole integration part, but when Microsoft works on it, it’ll truly be one powerful platform.
  • Partners support – To many companies, Microsoft is known as an enabler. Microsoft sells technology that other companies can use, to help make their products successful. Like Server 2008, Visual Studio, Office, etc. Heck, Microsoft even lets tons of hardware makers come out with computers, devices, and gizmos running on Microsoft technology, like Windows, Windows Mobile, or even Windows CE. It’s amazing how many companies out there depend on Microsoft to sell their products. Other companies, like Apple, can only think for themselves. I bet a lot of jobs are tied to Microsoft enabling companies to succeed.
  • Special Legalized Programs – Ever heard of DreamSpark? Or The Ultimate Steal? Both are some of the few ways that Microsoft makes some of their core products more affordable for college students, yet legal. Perfect solution. If only Microsoft could do that for everybody.
  • Giving money to causes – The I’m initiative is one example of this. By using Live Messenger, or Live Hotmail, you can help contribute to an important cause, by just sending messages! There’s nothing hard here. The causes benefit from the money that Microsoft gives them, Microsoft benefits by getting people to use their services, and regular people benefit by helping a good cause and sending messages at the same time. There’s a few others, and I think it’s really awesome how Microsoft gives money away to good causes. Though Microsoft is like the richest company out there, I think.
  • Innovating – That’s a tricky thing. A lot of people claim Microsoft doesn’t do innovation. They just copy. I would disagree, by saying that Apple, and other companies have been known to copy too, and I don’t see what’s wrong with including new good features, even if someone else got there first. So some of what I call great innovations are : Office 2007 UI, WMC interface, Xbox Live, Zune’s WiFi and Social, AJAX, OneNote, Photosynth, First console with a hard drive, Desktop search, ergonomic keyboards, etc. Just a few of the many.
  • All about the developers – You don’t need to hear Ballmer say it 3 times, to know that Microsoft can be a developers friend. Things like Visual Studio, .NET, XNA, Expression Studio, and all that other stuff. From what I can tell, MS is very developer friendly

Then there are things that I don’t like about Microsoft :

  • Slowness – Sometimes, I feel like waiting forever for Microsoft to release a new update, product, feature, fix, or anything. Other companies seem to have a faster rate of releasing things, though they don’t have as many products/services as MS does. But waiting can be so difficult. Sometimes other companies come up with a new concept that gets popular fast, and slowly, Microsoft responds with their own equal. Sometimes better, but many times just the same or not as good. I just want Microsoft to update things more faster, instead of making users feel as if time crawls by.
  • Buying and just buying – I don’t have a problem with buying companies. It makes sense to buy another company, sometimes. Like a company might have some type of technology that if paired with your technology, would make one great bang on the market. Or patents, special employees, and all that. But then again, I want Microsoft to create their own cool things, and not have to rely on buying other companies to obtain this. Specifically in the web area.
  • Too many products, redundancy – A lot of times, I think Microsoft should simplify what they have, instead of bits and pieces that are very similar, but have only littler variation. EX: my.live.com and My MSN, WMP 11 and Zune software, Windows Messenger and Windows Live Messenger, and so on. It’s kinda ridiculous. I think MS just needs to put the best features of each together, instead of maintaining separate products/services.
  • Cross platform support – They’ve gotten better at it, but Microsoft is still a little rusty. I wish Microsoft’s sites could work very well with all the top 4 browsers. Though Firefox support has greatly improved. I wish Microsoft Mac BU made some more software for Macs, and update Messenger. And of course, do something for little Linux.
  • Office and Windows prices – I still find the market retail prices of Windows and Office programs to be appalling. First, I would never pay more than $250 for an OS. I think Microsoft Office programs should go for $20-$40 a piece. Word’s "suggested retail price" is $229. Yet when you purchase it with PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote, it’s only $150. Weird, right? If Microsoft doesn’t want people to pirate their stuff, putting a more fair price might help a lot.
  • Being the follower – Not always the follower, but sometimes I feel that Microsoft waits for other companies to introduce their things first. Lately they’ve been better, but I want to see Microsoft thinking and going steps ahead of their competition, instead of waiting and trying to improve something that they already did. There’s lots of untapped markets out there that if Microsoft worked hard enough, they’ll be the trend setters for that market, such as : e-books, online polls, sound clips site, coupon site, and other stuff that hasn’t been pushed to it’s potential yet.
  • Windows Vista – I’m not one of those people that are Vista haters, that never used it, or make wisecracks at it. I just feel that Microsoft’s latest OS could have been more better, after 5 years of XP. there could have been more significant improvements. There are tons of things new to Windows of course, but there’s been a lot of issues with the UAC, multiple SKU’s, hardware requirements are too lean (1GB is fine, but 2GB is SO much better), old icons and some issues still there, etc. Again, I’m not saying Vista is an all-around bad OS. In fact, if you’re getting a new computer, go ahead and get Vista. XP support will end, and Vista on a good computer should run great. I just think the way Vista was released is more of an issue to me. Hopefully, Windows Seven will make our dreams come true, with what Windows needs.

That’s the best I could come up with. But overall, I still have some love for Microsoft. They do great at times, but other times – no so great. Maybe Microsoft will learn from its mistakes and listen to feedback on what people want, not bending down for the industry and business sakes.

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7 thoughts on “My love/hate relationship with Microsoft

  1.  
    I have to wonder, Michael: you are pretty savvy and articulate in tech issues; think you could see yourself working for Microsoft? What are your plans? Not being nosey, here; I am truly interested.
    You\’ve been forthright about being a younger user, but I figure that\’s more an issue of trips around the sun than competency.
    How do you see yourself putting your interest in technology to use?
     
    Marge

  2. That\’s a great list, Michael.  I actually agree with a lot of what you have in both your "love" and "hate" list.  It\’s a big part of the company\’s culture to be self-critical and feedback from customers like you help us do that.  I think we\’re making progress on some of the "hate" items, but I know we\’ll always have a list of stuff we can do better.
     
    – Marcus

  3. Michael,
     
    I am in agreement with you on just about everything you wrote here!  I, too, think that the price on per product items should be brought down to a more earthly level for the everday user and not just the super power users.  Microsoft has long been under the gun especially when it comes to buying other companies.  This is just a part of what has mad Microsoft great!  If buying out other companies means better implementation of their products and support then I am all for it!  Just all part of the big plan and Microsoft is not the only company that does this.
     
    We will probably end up converting our XP to Vista which I have toyed with on other people\’s systems to assit the, however, I am just not prepared to spring for the "Big Price Tag" that is associated with it!
     
    This was some incredibly useful info you shared here!  Keep it coming!
     
    Have a wonderful and blessed day my friend!
     
    Greg

  4. Great post. I agree with most of this. Microsoft really doesn\’t get enough credit for the innovation part. Microsoft has released so much cool stuff and nobody acknowledges it. Product redundancy is a problem though, especially with the Live programs. I hope they will sort that out soon.

  5. Micheal:  Well written article!  Yes the past two years have been exciting for users who are willing to try the new products you listed.
    We believe that as all the pieces come together in the Web 2.0 arena a system will evolve that can be second to none. As we configure custom systems for our clients much of the technologies you mention are incorporated.  The customer is always favorably  impressed as so many clients are not aware of the many technological advances Microsoft has brought forth in recent years.
     
    A personal note addition for you to post another time, Microsoft Live One Care, not mentioned has run in our labs on several systems now since the beta test days.  Once setup properly it has performed admirably in keeping our systems protected 24/7.
     

  6. I love your beautiful Blog and you  Article about your Love and hate with Microsoft  Just Rock this Great Article!

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