The FT reported today that “Google is phasing out the internal use of Microsoft’s ubiquitous Windows operating system because of security concerns“. A lot of people are talking about the same tired and obvious aspects of this; Google pushing their own platforms, Windows being insecure, blah blah blah. I don’t care about that, especially since the benefits of Microsoft vs. Apple/Linux/whoever is one of those topics about which everyone who cares already has an opinion, and isn’t likely to change it.
What I want to point out is that this means Google products that run on the desktop will soon start to be utter garbage when run on Windows.
It is inevitable that without Windows machines in the corporate IT estate, Windows development will not matter as much to the company. When your software crashes and it affects your employees, that drives a fix harder than a thousand times as many customers with the same problem. From now on, crashes in the Windows products will not affect Google employees. And they will care less, even if most of their customers are using Windows. Don’t believe me? I thought you might not.
Just look at Apple.
iTunes is an application beholden to millions – including millions who use a PC – and yet almost everyone I’ve met who has run it on both Windows and OS X has told me that the Windows version is garbage in comparison. I know from years of experience that QuickTime is an utter nightmare on Windows, frequently breaking or delivering dire performance. The simple fact is that Apple never see those problems because, of course, no-one at Apple uses Windows internally. So, no-one at Apple cares to do anything about it.
Apple does of course have a vested interest in iTunes and QuickTime running better on OS X, but I honestly don’t beleive that iTunes is deliberately unstable and cack just to drive people to buy a Mac. It’s simply because their Windows programmers suck due to complete inexperience with the platform, and the same thing is going to happen at Google.
In the long run, it may not matter. If the entirety of Google’s product line-up completes its buzzword-filled move to the “The Cloud”, then hopefully it won’t matter that Google coders can’t produce quality code on Windows. But in the meantime, get ready for Chrome, Google Earth, Google Desktop, Sketchup, and Picasa to start sucking big time. The developers aren’t using Windows any more, and their bosses want every application in the browser.
Why should they care if your Windows program crashes?
Over the weekend I saw yet another update by someone on Facebook blaming Windows for the fact that their god-awful HP laptop was overheating, and singing the praises of the Mac they would soon be receiving, in the vain and misguided belief that all Mac laptops run cooler than a penguin’s posterior whilst sitting on an iceberg in the middle of the Antarctic winter. At night.
This is the world in which technologists are now forced now live: one where actual technological advantages are usurped in the eyes of the consumer by mindless and unsubstantiated claptrap put out by marketing. Where buyers believe the only differentiator between laptops is whether they run Windows or OSX, and that sole difference is to blame for everything. The next time someone complains about Windows making their laptop run hot, I’m going to boot it into Linux, fire up MPrime, and stuff it where the sun doesn’t shine. If it happens to be a MacBook… well, we can skip booting into Linux, and they can be thankful for rounded corners.
The even greater irony is that, if anything, the biggest complaint I ever hear about Apple laptops is how hot they run. It’s one of the few complaints Apple owners will ever admit to having, other than being forced to constantly admire their smug expression in the shiny exterior.
A little diversion shortly followed to calm my nerves:
Number of Google search results for x overheating problem, with x being one of the following 5 computer manufacturers, in descending order:
Disclaimer: this study is utterly unscientific and these figures mean absolutely bugger all, serving no purpose other than the entertainment of the author. They certainly should not be considered representative of the number of people complaining about Apple laptops overheating, and should absolutely not be considered in the context of Apple having the lowest US market share of the five manufacturers listed here at the end of 2009.
It’s not because Apple make bad products. Mostly they don’t, and in any case, anyone can make bad products.
It’s not because they’re overpriced. They are overpriced, but there are plenty of overpriced non-Apple products too.
It’s not even because their fanboys are smug, pretentious gits. Which they are.
It’s because, deep down, Apple is no longer a technology company. They are first and foremost a marketing company. Read More…
Last week I talked about how Apple’s CEO, the inimitable Steve Jobs, predicts that the Flash platform is a dying technology, shortly to be consigned to the mausoleum of history.
Predicting the future is notoriously difficult; those that practice such dark arts often produce proclamations that are vague, misleading, or ultimately entirely wrong. Any meaningful prediction is merely educated guessing, and so I’m not going to bore you with my ultimate view of how Jobs is wrong.
Instead, I’m going to bore you with 4 possible scenarios in which he is wrong – or right.
I haven’t been a fan of Adobe products ever since Creative Suite became a total pain in the backside to install on a network, and when they took over Macromedia and inherited Flash, I liked them even less. Nor am I a fan of Google, whose laissez-faire attitude to privacy runs utterly contrary to their stated company ethics, and whose Windows software is too often amateurishly designed with support for managed networks either not present at all, or added several months late as an afterthought.
My own distaste, however, pales in comparison to that of the CEO of Apple, as reported by Gizmodo:
“That ‘Don’t be evil’ slogan Google’s known for?… ‘Full of cr**,’ Jobs said, after which he was reportedly rewarded with a big round of applause from the gathered throng of Apple employees… ‘Make no mistake, they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them.'”
The attacks became more specific when it came to Adobe:
“Jobs also criticized Flash for being buggy. When a Mac crashes, it’s usually because of Flash, he reportedly told the crowd. ‘The world is moving to HTML5’, he said.”
I’d have to agree with the first part of his assessment: Flash, along with other Adobe software, has more bugs than a world-class entomologist. I cannot recall a single instance of my browser crashing within the last year that wasn’t down to Flash or Adobe Reader. That said, if a browser plugin is taking down the whole system, Jobs needs to level some rage at his own developers, since the OS should be able to cope with one piece of miscreant user-mode software.
However, the world ‘moving to HTML5’? I think that’s a little premature…
I don’t hate Apple products. Many of their products are excellent, if expensive, and I can see why people like them.
What I do hate is the smug, pretentious, superior attitude of both Apple’s marketing department and the people who blithely parrot the fallacies they perpetuate. We’ll almost certainly be reading a lot along those lines from both camps today.
I recently happened upon a Computerworld blog article asking “Is Apple morphing into the Microsoft of smartphones?“, highlighting their use with the iPhone of the same sort of anti-competitive practices that Microsoft got in so much trouble for in the past with some of their products. The article immediately attracted the ire of a legion of Apple apologists in the comments, but it was one of the least inflammatory parts of the article that struck a chord with me:
“The irony of it all hit me yesterday as I was deciding how to move music from my PC to my Pre, given that iTunes syncing has been turned off. And my first stop was Microsoft’s Windows Media Player, which does indeed sync natively with Palm’s Pre.
That’s right. I was turning to Microsoft to solve a problem with a proprietary, closed data exchange format.”
I found this interesting because I recently encountered something similar myself. After finishing the deployment of my new Exchange 2010 server at work, I invited the Deputy Head to test the Exchange ActiveSync synchronisation with his iPhone. “I’ve tried,” came the response, “but as I already have an account running through Exchange it won’t let me add another.”
Lets say you’re using Autoruns one day and the following conditions arise:
- You notice that the Bonjour service has somehow made its way onto your system (usually courtesy of iTunes or Adobe Creative Suite).
- You find yourself incensed that some dodgy and largely unnecessary Apple networking software has installed itself without asking.
- You discover that the Bonjour service in inexplicably absent from Add/Remove Programs, thus further infuriating you over the stealth nature of the install.
Under these conditions, DON’T do what I did and simply delete the references to mDNSResponder.exe and mdnsNSP.dll using Autoruns. All that will get you is a machine that, after its next reboot, can no longer resolve DNS addresses correctly, leading to a short sharp visit to System Restore. Instead, here’s how to remove Bonjour without tanking your network connectivity:
- Run the following via Start -> Run:
"C:\Program Files\Bonjour\mDNSResponder.exe" -remove
- Go to the C:\Program Files\Bonjour folder (or C:\Program Files (x86)\Bonjour if you have ended up with a 32-bit version of Bonjour on a 64-bit OS)
- Rename the mdnsNSP.dll to something else (it doesn’t matter what, my preference is for mdnsNSP.turd)
- Delete the aforementioned Bonjour folder from Program Files.
At my recent job interview I was asked to give a presentation on a ridiculously vague subject that essentially amounted to crystal-ball gazing.
In part of it I laid out my tentative predictions for the next 5-10 years of client evolution in education. I posited that the recent explosive growth in the use of netbooks would lead them to be the cornerstone of education workstations in 5 years time.
I also predicted that the mass-marketability of the iPhone would popularise touch interfaces to the point where they became very cheap to mass-produce, and that within the next few years we would a convergence leading to touchscreen netbooks.
Today, Dell put their newest netbook on sale in the US and Europe, the Latitude L2100. It’s specifically designed for the education market.
It has a touch screen.
The touch screen option is just £33 extra.
Apparently we have already reached the point where touchscreens are cheap to mass-produce. I will gleefully say I saw it coming. I did not see it coming this soon. So thanks, Dell, for totally ruining my predictions for the next 5 years. I especially hate you for doing it with a product that is quite clearly very cool.