Thursday, November 11, 2004

Good Things from Microsoft

With my usual Mac OS X, Firefox advocacy and numerous criticisms of security in Windows (see blog archives), one would think I'd be mostly blind to any Good Microsoft may have brought to this world.

As Robert Scoble is visiting the beleaguered mavericks from the Microsoft Mac Business Unit, I feel compelled to remind myself of the cool stuff Microsoft's produced.

Microsoft Office for Mac OS X made my switch from Windows 2000 to Mac OS X possible in 2001. Entourage remains a very strong mail application. Back on an old 400Mhz Titanium Powerbook, it chugged through gigabytes of e-mail I had imported from various other sources, browsing, viewing, sorting e-mail was, and remains, fast. One of the many things I liked about it was its ability to put "tags" on e-mails. Instead of solely relying on folders to organize mail, I could create "virtual folders" based on search rules and tag combinations. A concept more recently advocated on GMail. But Entourage had that back in 2001. Entourage's speed and responsiveness were, I believe, partly due to its saving everything in one big database stored as a binary file. Regardless of how many mail boxes and accounts you had, it all was stored in this big database. This bit me hard one day after a sector got corrupted on my hard drive, which caused the operating system to delete my Entourage database upon a routine reboot file system health check, following a system upgrade. I had an older back-up but lost months of mail. Nowadays, Panther has a "journaled file system" so these types of corruption should no-longer be occurring and I still highly recommend Entourage to e-mail power users. I have however since then switched to due to its nice integration with iCal, iChat, and Address Book.

As a Reservoir Engineer, my Girlfriend is quite an expert at Excel. She'd work on documents on her work PC during the day, and often spend extra hours tweaking numbers and charts on the iBook back home. While mainly a PC user, she felt right at home in Mac OS X Excel. She recently made a flier in Word on Windows for the office holiday party and wanted to "put it on the web". Since I'm lazy, I had her e-mail me the Word document, which I opened in Word on Mac OS X. I went "File --> Print ... " clicked the "Save as PDF" button ( in OS X, if you can print it, you can PDF it ). The end-result mirrored exactly like what she had on the PC. I uploaded the PDF file to one of her 8 EarthLink web accounts.

Microsoft Office for OS X enables us Mac users to remain productive in a Microsoft-dominated business world.

Internet Explorer has also carried us Mac users for a long time. While some web developers (including this one) at times decry odd compatibility issues on today's more advanced features, it stacked up quite nicely against all other browsers back in 2001, regardless of platform.

Do the MBU guys have blogs?

On the Windows front, I've gotta say Internet Explorer 5.0, released back in 1999, was an amazing web browser. Heck, if you dug deeper into its support for XML, XmlHttpRequest, XSLT, DOM, CSS and JavaScript, you had a fairly comprehensive networked software platform at your fingertips. Since 1999, XSLT, DOM, and CSS have matured as standards that are now supported by most major browser code bases. Actually XSLT is, i believe, still only supported in Windows IE, as far as browsers go. Safari and Mozilla variants, are now all able to request an XML document over HTTP and store it in memory for further processing. A couple of years ago, when the Mozilla dudes were starting to implement this feature, they'd often link directly to documentation on the Microsoft Site. Back at XTech 2000, a conference "about XML", I remember attending an XSLT tutorial session where we all used IE5.0 to test our code. All this still lives in IE 6.0 ... I'm pretty sure. We're now living in pretty exciting times where it's realistic to build fairly advanced cross-platform applications powered by web standards.

Microsoft's got good dudes working for them. Regardless, one day I will get Scoble to switch (back to?) to Mac and blog about it.


Anonymous said...

See Rick Schaut's blog

Anonymous said...

Ah, thanks, dear anonymous person :) He's got a Mac BU section.

Anonymous said...

Flattered to be one of the "good dudes"...I've been called lots of things but never a dude ; )

Heather Hamilton | Senior Marketing Recruiter
Microsoft Corporation | 425.706.2312 |