I must admit I am no Microsoft hater. I use Windows since 3.11, loved DOS, have an affinity for Linux but if I think about a good graphical user interface Windows pops up (OK, maybe it’s all stolen and MacOS X is better but I needed about 5 minutes to crash OS X the first time I started Firefox). So I had my come out… I am a Microsoft fetish!
Why this post? In my opinion Microsoft has learned of its flaws in the past and is going in the right direction. Visual Studio 2005 has become an easy to use and intuitive development suite. Microsoft’s way to free the Express Editions is to support and not to criticize. Of course they want to push .net development. So what? Every company wants to push its own product but if Microsoft does so its the way of the devil.
I pretty much liked the Vista beta. It needs a better PC but a normal mid-range Computer today can run Vista just fine. I had it installed on my over 3 year’s old laptop and after updating the harddisk driver it ran good. The new color scheme is much more eye-friendly than XP (how blind do you have to be to mix green and orange…!?), Taskbar, Sidebar and Explorer have grown-up and the security system is much more witted than before. A little more compatibility with older software (I noticed some minor incompatibility) and Vista is the first Windows I will like from the first release on.
Microsoft Office 2007 made the biggest leap. I hated Office XP and Office 2003. Just more colors, just more annoying avatars that try to disturb your slumber at work and much to complicated. With Office 2007 everything changes, at least the user interface. The tabbed based bars give you fast and intelligent access to nearly all the features you need with live previews of the changes. It automatically gives you the right Tab based on what you currently edit. Most features are by far more stable as in Office 2003. It’s quick, it’s an ease to use and Microsoft definitely is on the right way with their current products.
Windows Media Player 11
Microsoft released the Windows Media Player 11. The 24MB download gives you a new and improved (as always) user interface that is based on the Vista color scheme. It somehow reminds me of the Vista Explorer because of its pretty simple and straight forward style. Clearly structured menu on the top, content in the middle and mediabar on the bottom. The design is tabbed based which quickly lets you switch between Playlist, Layout, Library and MusicStore. As MusicStore it integrates the URGE Music Service (Yeah, Microsoft dictates your MusicStore but Apple, ITunes and IPod would never do so ^^) but you do not need to use it. The strong graphical interface is faster than WMP10 in my opinion and gives you quick access to standard features. I must say that WMP11 is not only a MediaPlayer but a MediaStation. As every new program tries to imply everything you may need the MediaPlayer covers every media that is on your computer and gives you administrative powers over them. So conquer them! Try it!
Internet Explorer 7
After 5 years (IE6 was released in 2001) the Internet Explorer has been updated. And as nearly every browser on the Internet is has Tabs ^^’. But to be concrete again the interface is oriented on the Vista style which I like. It comes with common features you might know from Opera 9 or Firefox 2 so nothing special there. Overall the IE7 has nothing to really hype it for or complain about. It’s just a standard browser. Wait… standard? Maybe not as standardized as we would like. Some bugs and hacks have been repaired but others pop out. It is not as W3 compliant as expected so there still will be a lot of work for every real web designer. Not that Firefox or Opera or Konquerer or any other browser do better. Still every browser has its special behaviours so we dumb and underpaid computer scientists have to find the way in the middle to reach every user on the Internet. Much work to do! But to defend IE7: It is better. It is by far more compliant than before. It uses about as much memory as Firefox (a little more). It has an integrated Phishing- and PopUp-Blocker and makes an overall good impression. I will stay with my Firefox because of the plugins but IE7 has a plugin interface too. We’ll see what will come next…
Windows Desktop Search
The Windows Desktop Search follows all those desktop search engines on the market: Google Desktop, Copernic, X1 and many more. There is nothing special about just a solid search engine. It has a browser like search interface, quick access through a taskbar textfield and some minor options. Basically WDS is the first to concentrate on searching and not flooding your computer. I tried them all and many more but WDS was the first to convince me. It indexes faster than the most and while indexing you computer can still be used (had my problems with others in this point). The browser interface is not beautiful but functional. WDS categorizes your files into different Medias like Photos, Music or Video and let you specify what filetypes you want the content to be indexed too. With the taskbar textfield you can quickly access your indexed content and a little popup shows you the categorized outcome.
Why WDS? Windows Desktop Search is not new, it basically is the MSN Desktop Search but in its newest version. Now there are much more options you can control like index snoozing or what hdds to index. It has some nice plugins that add support for e.g. PDF, MP3 ID3-Tag, Thunderbird and more. Just try it once (I tried them all) and maybe you are as convinced as I am.
Microsoft Office Accounting 2007
Nothing for the normal house husband but definitely worth a look. Microsoft Office Accounting 2007 is as the name states an Accounting Software. Manage employees, time tracking, the payroll, track you’re in- and outcome et cetera. It is nothing anybody can make use of but everybody can have a look if it has some minor features to manage its own finances or anything else. Office Accounting is free but uses some plugins that are shareware so beware of them. The basic functions are all free and if you do not run a big business (which you probably won’t otherwise you would not read this) you do not need other features. The about 300MB download contains nearly everything to run a small business.
That’s it for today. This post is all about objectiveness. Do not curse Microsoft by default. Just try and you’ll see even Bill Gates has some good features. So for now: Hail to thy Microsoft ^^!
Source of Pictures: http://www.microsoft.com/, Desktop Screenshot taken by myself.