With most of the software and products I ever worked with, I still think Microsoft delivers for me the highest overall rating. But I write this with a bit of crunching my teeth. I like Microsoft, but I wish I that ‘like’ was more like the love like Apple zealots have. I will not defend Microsoft to the core, they have let me down a number of times, but not a lot.
Apple, as I think the only company in the IT business has made it’s brand sexy. If I would say ‘I love Apple’ it would sound good. Now, for me Apple has become the gorgeous and beautiful, but bi-polar, girl. Love to fantasize, but cannot stand dealing with her.
Microsoft is like a homely, computer nerd. Not popular, but incredibly loyal and able to pull things off that no others can. And this is the problem a little bit. Not defending that I like Microsoft products, but the products are usually a bit off to defend. I personally like Windows7 a lot, but to be honest, I was also very happy with Vista. A lot of people do not understand that, and talk about what a crap Vista was. And I do not see it. I have bought Vista on a new machine, with older hardware connected to it, but never had a single problem with it. I preferred it a lot over XP. But then, most people that talk to me in a negative way about Vista, never really used it. I always migrate to a new operating system, and the reason for that is simple; it cleans up. Vista was like XP with all the service packs installed, but then completely integrated as a new foundation for your computer. With Windows 7 I have less of that idea, it came too soon. That is why it still feels like Vista to me. To be honest, I think a lot of ex-Vista users would agree with me. Windows7 is like Vista with slight tweaks. True, the task bar works like sunshine. But for me, the real difference in day-to-day life stops right there.
Products that I really favor from Microsoft are Office and SQL Server. People may say anything about Office, or try to get me to work with OpenOffice or Google Docs. I use OpenOffice on my second Laptop, but it simply feels like Office of 10 years ago. It is absolutely a good alternative, but not good enough to be the Office suite I prefer. And as I have mentioned before, I don’t mind paying money for products I work with. I don’t want my software in the cloud, where technically other people can have access too or hack into without being able to do anything against it. And especially since Office 2007 I personally think the user interface has jumped ahead. A lot of old-time users hate the ‘Ribbon’, but for less experienced users it is a good step in the right direction of usability. It is organized, it is clear, and ready for a whole new set of users.
SQL Server is by far my choice over any other database Server. It is not cheap, but it is absolutely not expensive either, although you have to fork over a $5,000 to get it on your server if you want to remove the 4GB per-database limitation. The reason why I like SQL Server so much? It never has let me down. Not a single time. I have been working with SQL Server since version 2000, and I probably cling to it for a very long time. Also here, I work with other databases, and I never could feel chemistry with mySQL, and I absolutely do not understand people using Oracle. I cannot wrap my thoughts around that one. With the money you have to pay for Oracle, you can build a complete scalable park of SQL servers that can handle anything.
But Microsoft has some problems. It is too big to control quality everywhere, I understand. And there are also a lot of problems. I don’t mind the patches and the bugs on Windows. They are there. And if you look at the amount of codes in Windows, and also the number of people working on it, of which of course not everyone is very good, it simply happens. But Windows stands the test of time while being under constant attack of hackers, botnets, virusses, critics and legacy software, and it is stills standing strong. Better, it grew up with this constant threat. This is were I honestly worry of switching to Apple OS or Unix. Because everyone saysit is so secure, but it has been never tested. In the hacking contest last year hackers were able to get into a new Macbook within seconds! While Windows kept it up for at least 7 hours.
IE, well. I use the browser a lot, but I cannot really like it. I like it better than FireFox, but to be honest I think Google Chrome is on the right track of being simple to use and solid. But personally I love the Opera browser. But the problem there is the compatibility of websites. I wish that was a bit higher. IE is sluggish, does what it should do but not really nice. It is I think a B- grade.
And I could go on. I am not getting into the games, because they only deliver the platform, not really the games themselves, I am looking at it purely from a development point of view. But the real problem is, I think, that there is not a lot to love about the brand itself. I curse Apple for it’s attitude, but at least, they have one. Microsoft lacks that kind of identity. Apple got this so much better under control. Everyone is known with its branding, and with their products. In movies every computer has the Apple logo. I have noticed Microsoft tries to do the same thing, and in more and more television series monitors with the Windows logo show up. But it simply misses its goal by a long shot.
So maybe that is it why I cannot love this brand so much, like it, but not love it. It has no identity. And maybe it is better that way. An IT company should make products that are good, and not spend millions of dollars into getting people to become a zealot for the brand.