Microsoft engineers for rudeness, Apple designs for polite

Last week, I reported that I'd lost my iPhone on a train. Because it is impossible to actually do any meaningful work without a phone, I found I was forced to resort to my old Windows Mobile device, and just assumed that I'd make do for a while.

Now this was a quite late-model, latest version of operating system, all singing, all dancing handset.

And it was appalling.

The problem, you see, is that you get so used to the intuitive design centricity of iPhone that using anything else reminds you of going back to the dark ages. By no means am I an Apple fan-boy, by the way. That iPhone was the only Apple thing I own.

But losing it, and being forced to go back to what I thought was the ultimate mobile device makes me see just how programmed my thinking had been about Microsoft. Once you get into a habit, you just don't see the flaws in what you're doing. For example, I really noticed the fact that at least 25% of calls just aren't even received on Windows Mobile. It fails to notice, apparently, that someone is ringing. Before, I accepted that. Now, I can't tolerate it under any circumstances.

So I've gone out and bought a new iPhone, one of those 3GS versions. It is an incremental improvement on the old version, but I don't care. I'm back.

Here is the experience: get new phone. Plug it into iTunes. iTunes notices it is new hardware and asks me if I want to restore everything to the way it was on the old phone. I say yes, and voila, the phone is exactly the way it was before I lost it.

Emboldened by this experience, I then decided that I'd really better just try out OS X, the Macintosh operating system as well. Those who've been reading here for a while know that I spent some time experimenting with various flavours of Linux, and waxed lyrical about the performance and stability of those systems. In the end, though I was forced back to Microsoft because I had to use some remote connection software I just couldn't get to work on Linux.

Anyway, so I loaded the Mac OX X on a netbook (yes, I made a Hackintosh), and oh-my-god. Intuitive design centricity again. It just feels like its been designed with the user in mind. It makes you want to load apps and exit them just to play with the little dock thing. I love the way the little icons bounce up and down to let you know that something needs attention, rather than the approach in Windows which is to steal the focus away and throw a dialogue box in my face. Of course there are no freezes, or crashes, or anything else like that either. Bliss.

Now these experiences have taught me something.

Apple designs things to be polite. Like asking me if it might help me bring my phone back to life.

Microsoft engineers things to be rude. Like phone that can't be bothered to answer calls, or dialogs that demand my attention right now.

I'm sitting here writing this on my work XP machine, and wishing I had my netbook instead. It has about 25% of the power, mind you, but runs at least twice as fast. Let me have snappy over laggy any day. XP reminds me of that surly waiter in a restaurant who strolls over the second before you get up and leave. Engineered rudeness again.

Is it possible that Microsoft don't get this? Or perhaps their engineers and designers are too arrogant to think it matters. Either way, the comparison between the experience on Apple compared to Microsoft is extremely unfavourable to the latter.

Oh, ok, I'll admit it. The whole iPhone loss thing has made me an Apple FanBoy. Not one of those tragic ones that queue up to hear a Steve speech or waits outside an Apple store to be the first to get the new iPhone. But I am eyeing off a new MacBook Air. I will keep it in my briefcase next to my klunkarama XP machine and use it for everything possible from now on.

PS: To those Microsofties who will no doubt rush to regale me with stories of the miracle of Windows 7, I make this commitment: I will try it, when you release it, and evaluate with my recently opened mind. I might do so first inside a virtual machine on my MacBook Air, but I will give it a good go at least.

12 Responses to“Microsoft engineers for rudeness, Apple designs for polite”

  1. Justin
    July 21, 2009 at 7:24 am #

    Hey James,
    Welcome to the club. I’m a recent Mac convert as well and it all started with the iPhone for me. I like to tell people “it just plain works”. It has impacted my thoughts on system design as well and even project management. People don’t want to deal with the hassles.
    Windows still makes you deal with the things that a program should automatically handle.
    The other joy in MacOS is discovering all the really neat stuff they hide under the covers. Like last week, discovering folder options:
    http://www.simplehelp.net/2007/01/30/folder-actions-for-os-x-explained-with-real-world-examples/
    -Justin

  2. Duncan Anderson
    July 21, 2009 at 8:51 am #

    Hi James, I must admit I have been an Apple fan (not boy) for a few years now. I have recently dispensed with my windows laptop for work in favor of my own macbook and haven’t looked back since. My organisation is actively supporting a proliferation of client technologies, so I can use Windows, Linux or OSX with equal effectiveness. My only frustration has been a certain customer that insists on sending documents encrypted using MS DRM – but a VMWare Windows installation is my standby for those occurrences.
    It might seem a bit odd to buy your own work laptop, but I do truly believe it makes me more productive. More importantly, I spend so much time in front of the screen, it just makes me plain happier to use a ‘polite’ OS, as you put it. So, more productive and happier, life improving and possibly salary improving if my performance is better. Does that make me a fanboy? Maybe, but I feel justified.

  3. July 21, 2009 at 9:03 am #

    I’ve been driven mad for years by the way Windows applications grab the focus. Where does all thje typing go? It’s not even held in a buffer so I can paste it back.
    Having said that, I bought my first Mac in 1990, and I’m still not a convert. I have a bit of a crush on Ubuntu at the moment.

  4. July 21, 2009 at 10:00 am #

    Hi James,
    I remember commenting on one of your earlier blog posts about the joy of Mac. Last year I converted across to Mac and it was all because of the speed, simplicity and lack of frustration. I now have my MacBook next to my Work laptop (using Vista) connected via Synergy so I can use both laptop with the one keyboard and mouse. Definitely makes work less frustrating.
    If you get the chance it would be good if you did a posting on how you set up your Hackintosh.
    Cheers,
    Andrew

  5. July 21, 2009 at 2:45 pm #

    nice post … “Engineered rudeness …” must remember that one.

  6. July 22, 2009 at 4:22 pm #

    Hi James
    I think everyone knows how much I hate Vista by now, and I’ve been waiting for Windows 7. Can’t switch to Mac due to 4 Microsoft PC’s in the office and too expensive to throw them all out to get 4 new Macs.
    However, my 2-year old £2,500 Dell Vista PC died this week … completely unworkable and freezing all the time. So I ran out and spent another £1,000 on a new processor.
    Just spent 3 days loading it up and yes, it’s Vista again. Guess what?
    Just as bad as the 2-year old. Slow, unreliable, confusing …
    F***ing Microshaft.

  7. CP
    July 22, 2009 at 6:31 pm #

    Having fooled my employer into believing the VMWare XP virtual machine I have been using since October 2008 is the machine they issued me with, there is just one more thing to make my work computing life complete.
    MS releasing a proper and identical version of Office Pro for Mac OSX. Office 2008 is utter, utter rubbish. Almost deliberately so… one would think they don’t want you to use their productivity suite on someone else’s OS…

  8. July 23, 2009 at 6:35 am #

    Chris and All:
    Duncan and CP have been running Windows images inside their Apple machine. It looks and works like windows, but without all the other stuff you’re experiencing. Perhaps something to try?
    I’m experimenting with it myself. CP: how did you convert your work machine into a running image?

  9. July 23, 2009 at 8:37 am #

    very provactive, but honest. Heres my take on the subject:
    http://blogs.msdn.com/davidmcg/archive/2009/07/22/designed-for-frustration-response-to-bankervision.aspx

  10. July 23, 2009 at 12:23 pm #

    David, I have written a response as my next post. Thanks so much for taking the time to reach out.

  11. CP
    July 24, 2009 at 10:51 am #

    James,
    There were two routes I considered to get a working image good enough to allow me access to my particular employer’s network, neither use Bootcamp.
    1. Obtain an .iso of the target machine build disc, build it from within Fusion and hope for the best in terms of VM driver support. I am not sure how successful this would be, as images of our corporate build aren’t exactly handed out by IT so I didn’t test this method.
    2. Build a VM from a standard XP disc or .iso from within VM Fusion. This part is very very simple and produces a stable virtual machine every time. From here I obtained installs for our corporate AV and VPN software, configured them as required and hey presto.
    The second method is superior to an XP install on Bootcamp, because you run OSX and then XP runs as a virtual machine from within VM Fusion. You can even run ‘Unity’ mode and it will treat each Windows application as an OSX application, meaning you can use all the OSX gestures to select applications, clear the screen, use the dock etc. Very video memory intensive though – you would struggle to run Unity on an Air, but you could run a virtual machine through Fusion easily on one.

  12. July 25, 2009 at 10:06 am #

    I ADORE my MacBook Air, but that’s by the by. I just wanted to say that I’ve been running Parallels Desktop using XP because there were one or two PC-only applications that I needed to access in the office, but thinking about it I haven’t run XP on a Mac for about four or five months now. You won’t need it as much as you think, and the next version of OS X, due in September, will have native Exchange support built in.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

(Required)

Proudly powered by WordPress   Premium Style Theme by www.gopiplus.com