Over the last couple of weeks, I have read a lot about the “big boys” – Apple, Microsoft and Google – rolling out new or improved versions of software. Leaving aside the discussion of Cuil (which I blogged about a couple of weeks ago and should have been “soft launched”), I can’t get past the feeling that the “big boys” have forgotten how to make software that people actually like – and can choose what they want. We are past the days in which Henry Ford said you can have your Model-T in “any color you want, as long as it’s black.”
I have a Mac at home, an iPhone and use iTunes to play music. One of the reasons why I switched to a Mac (which, after buying a PC-based laptop for my family last weekend, I can tell you are much more expensive than Macs) is because I was sick and tired of my PC-based machine being a “tethered” appliance. Microsoft sent out the updates, pushed a browser down my throat and added a bunch of crap that I don’t want – consistently.
Now Apple is in the game.
In Wired’s blog last week, Russ Neumeier writes his “5 Reasons Why I’m No Longer Updating ITunes.” His major complaints? He tracks the addition of software and realized that Apple was also forcing the following down his throat – in the update:
- Safari (even though he unselected this one); and
- An Outlook add-in.
There was no way to unbundle this and it look him quite some time to take all of the stuff off of his computer that he did not want. Shovelware.
Sorry, but these guys are still the Evil Empire of software. The fact that they have employed Jerry Seinfeld to be in ads with Bill Gates speaks volumes about where they are as a company right now. That same, shiny new laptop I bought for my family is choking on Vista.
Paul McDonough of Information Week blogged last week (“Windows Vista: the OS About Nothing“) that:
“At a time when users want software that’s elegant, slick, and simple, Microsoft insists on bloated operating systems and applications, and ladling on all sorts of extra detritus through subsequent service packs.
In a sign that Redmond is drifting even farther from planet reality, Microsoft, as part of the Seinfeld launch, said Thursday that it’s discovered that Vista was never the problem. Nope, all along it’s been those stupid hardware makers, whose crude computing devices, barely evolved from the abacus, were never capable of showing Vista’s true brilliance.
So, going forward, Microsoft will dispatch its best engineers to babysit the dullards at vendors like Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Gateway. “Veghte and the team are driving changes in the engineering behind Windows PCs, and working closely with manufacturers to improve and enhance hardware performance,” Microsoft says.
So it’s not Microsoft’s fault. We dullards who don’t have Cray supercomputers are to blame.
Google and Chrome
I like Google, their company and their philosophy, but I have read a lot more bad things about Chrome than good. There is lots of info from my Tweeps who have installed – and then un-installed – Google’s first browser, Chrome. Problems that Google should have anticipated came up fast: Among them:
- A licensing agreement that, according to the “Economic Times,” has a “…license agreement appeared to give Google…a perpetual right to use anything one entered into the browser.” The follow up is that “…Stung by the outcry from the internet community, Google quickly said that it planned to soften the contract terms, which will retroactively apply to anyone who has already downloaded the browser.” Bad move, Google.
- As Tim Beyers of the Motley Fool wrote: “…Want more of my data, sirs? Fine, give me an AdSense account. Pay me when an advertiser pays you for data about me. You get access to my brain; I get a fatter wallet. A fair trade, wouldn’t you say?”
All of this speaks to the fact that the Big Boys should have figured out that they can no longer shove things down our throats or tie our hands with Ethernet cables. We are wired, connected and paying attention. Admittedly, many of us learned some hard lessons about “tethered computing” from Bill Gates, but these mistakes are fundamental and being made by companies that should know better.
Mark Story works for the federal government during the day, teaches at Georgetown University at night, writes “the Intersection of Online and Offline blog,” contributes to Media Bullseye, coaches little league and sleeps infrequently. You can contact him via email or better yet, on Twitter – @mstory123. He’ll be awake.