Phasing out Microsoft products

When I got my first computer back in 1996, it was an IBM PC with Windows 95 on. Since then I got into web developing and I’m living a fairly computer-intense life (at least in the daytime), and I’ve realized more and more that I’m phasing out one Microsoft product after another from the software I’m using.

Operating systems

As mentioned above, my first computer had Windows 95, and the following Windows 98. Not so stable operating systems, but I have to say that Microsoft stepped up with Windows 2000 (based on NT, which I never had). It was then followed by XP, which has been around forever, and now Vista is out (my take on Vista). Since about a year ago, my home computer is a MacBook Pro and I have to say that overall it is definitely superior to Windows.

Without a doubt, my next work computer will be a Mac, and I’m sincerely glad that I took the plunge.

Web browsers

Back in about 1998, you could choose between Netscape 4 and IE 4 as your web browser, and we all know in what poor state Netscape 4 was… So, I was an IE user for a number of years, but soon realized the greatness of the products Mozilla were creating. I’ve been using Firefox since my number one web browser all the way back to the day when it was named Phoenix, and to me it is without competition.

General software

As you understand, at home the only software I use is for Mac OS X, but since I’m stuck with a PC for the moment at work (running Windows XP), my choice of software has to be PC compliant. But to start with, I shy away from Office as the plague as much as I can (talk about bloated, unneeded features), except for the dependency on Outlook when in the Office, or the Web Outlook Access when at a customer’s.

To my disappointment, .NET seems to have a stronghold in Sweden, and I’ve been working with it since 2001, so I do have a proper knowledge of it. Luckily, though, I’ve been blessed with working in projects based on other technologies (oh, the joy of Ruby on Rails and PHP projects; giving full control to the web developer, imagine that! :-)). And as long as I can affect what I work with, there won’t be any work done by me on projects in crappy Content Management Systems based on Microsoft ideas anytime soon.

IE is only used for testing (which almost exclusively is hell, because it never stops to surprise me with it bugs and extremely shaky behavior). A little sidenote here, but to all customers, project managers etc: if IE were to be discontinued, I can promise you that the interface for web sites would be developed in half the time and be twice as good with all the possibilities we would have.

And that’s about the Microsoft software I have to confront at the time. I long to the day when I can launch TextEdit or a similar program for text purposes and TextMate for developing, so I can get rid of Office overall and .NET for web sites. Then all I’m stuck with is Microsoft’s crappy web browsers (which, unfortunately, probably won’t be gone for quite some time).

Soon, I’ll be free

Conclusively; in my spare time or for personal computer usage I don’t use any Microsoft software any more. At work, I still have some obstacles to get over, but I’m getting there, step by step. My prediction is that within a year, the only Microsoft product I will have to care about is IE, and the rest is gone, Gone, GONE! Let the liberation begin!

What do you use, and are you happy with it?

34 Comments

  • The only Microsoft product I have started to love again is Office 2007. The work Microsoft has done with the new UI is absolutely amazing — it's nothing short of a revolution. I actually enjoy using Word again and while it's not perfect, I have no reason to look for alternatives anymore. The alternatives feel very last century…

  • Jeff says:

    I use a Windows box so I use Windows XP, but that's about it. Other than the OS, there's not really anything that I can think of from Microsoft that I use on a daily basis. Firefox is the browser, Thunderbird the mail client. Gaim and/or Trillian for IM and iTunes and VLC for media playback. I don't even use Notepad.

    IE exists solely for updates to the OS.

    There's not any installed Microsoft software on my Mac. One of the first things that I did when I got it a few years ago was delete IE.

  • Claus says:

    I use a mac for everything except browser testing (G4 PowerBook at home, Dual G5 PowerMac with remote desktop windows testing environment at work).

    Tried vista, and while it IS better than XP (3 steps forward, 2 back), I'll be a mac user for the rest of the foreseeable future.

  • fiskhandlarn says:

    If you wan't/need office software that works in both windows and macosx I can really recommend OpenOffice on windows and NeoOffice on mac instead of Microsoft Office.

    I would too like to brake free from Microsoft, but instead make the move to GNU/Linux and be really free. πŸ˜‰ Unfortunately, right now I use a lot of software (flash, adobe cs) that won't work in GNU/Linux, but the aim is to use only free software someday.

  • I've been using Macs since the early nineties, and have never been able to understand what could make a person voluntarily use Windows. Every time I have to do something in Windows (the neverending IE bug hunting) or any Office app I feel frustrated and disgusted.

  • Voluntarily? There's no such thing when it comes to Windows and you know it Roger! πŸ™‚ We've been force fed this crap since day one (except for you maybe πŸ˜‰ ).

    Nah, seriously though. Macs only got interesting enough for me when Apple made the move to the Intel platform. When Mac OS X was first released, things started to look more interesting but the turning point was the Intel move.

    Sure enough, I've never been so happy to use a computer since I bought my MacBook Pro. I miss the games a little, though. πŸ™‚

  • George says:

    I also moved to Macs a year ago and have been very happy on a MacBook Pro. It is difficult to completely lose MS though as there is a requirement to test websites and emails on the MS products.

    I predict soon you will move to Linux and start spitting each time someone mentions Windows!

  • George: Oh, you mean spitting like Mr Ballmer is doing at Microsoft's employee conventions (along with the dancing). Nah, maybe I'm just confusing flying spit with flying chairs… πŸ˜€

  • Jules says:

    My son has a MacBook (not Pro) for school and my wife tried his MacBook for the first time the other week and loved it. I am thinking that when my PC dies (die, baby, die), I will replace it with a Mac (likely a desktop though). However, I would like to know what replacements for Office there are (I know about OpenOffice) as that will be important for me.

  • Box says:

    Well…. I'm a bit like you Robert, have been using Windows since the old days, when WIN95 only was a rumor – a whisper in the wind.

    Currently I use XP on my LG Computer, feeling kind of like the lyrics in the song "Stuck in the Middle With You" by Stealers Wheel.

    I would love to "go Apple" – but the price is a bit to much for me personally…

  • telga says:

    I don't use any MS stuff–my OS is Linux, Ubuntu Edgy Eft (the latest release) and after that the lineup is a lot like Jeff's–Firefox, Gaim, VLC. I also use without problem or complaint gedit (thinking of trying another editor though, Bluefish, just to see) and the GIMP. I also use Wine, and so far it has been very easy to install stuff using it, like the script that runs the Internet Explorer browsers.

    I'm very happy with my Linux and free software. Like George, I think anyone who moves to Linux from at least Windows/Microsoft is going to be pleased. I don't about you Mac users…:)

    (I like your preview feature, Robert–very neat.)

  • Robert – I applaud your efforts. I wish it were that easy for me. Unfortunately, it appears that I am tied to two platforms for the long haul. I hate to complain too much because it does put food on my table!

    As a .NET/PHP/MySQL/SQL/HTML/CSS/Javascript developer running Windows XP at my day job, and Apple Tiger at my other job I've had to learn all the quirks of both. There are frustrating things on both platforms. I've also developed an appreciation for both platforms. While Balmer is undoubtedly one of the most annoying people in the world…there's no denying what Microsoft has accomplished under him.

    Anyway, my biggest annoyance is probably the fact that I am tied to two platforms. It's not so much the fact that I have to deal with it, because I'm actually interested in it…and I enjoy figuring out workarounds for various quirks on one that is usually really easy on the other. It's the financial strain of keeping up with dual platforms that's the biggest burden.

    P.S. – We'll miss you at SXSW this year. Check out Team Pin Pals in the Avalonstar Bowling Extravaganza.

  • Ash Searle says:

    Operating Systems: Windows XP on desktop, Mac OS X on laptop (Macbook Pro – rarely used.) I work on XP, with Mac OS X use limited to testing or sofa surfing.

    I give Linux a go every few years: last time I tried using Mepis and Knoppix. It's looking like Ubuntu's next on the list.

    Web browsers: Firefox and Opera, together. On XP I have them both open, but on Mac OS X I tend to stick to Firefox. Safari and IE use is pretty limited, basically to testing and (for IE) accessing MSDN.

    (Firebug made me swing from Opera to Firefox. But the Opera developer tools may make me change back.)

    General Software: I'm not really a general user – I pretty much limit my PC use to software development. For consistency, I try to use cross-platform software: OpenOffice, iTunes, vim, The Gimp, Inkscape and Eclipse. Plus whatever DVD player came with the machine / drive. I keep meaning to learn TeX as a substitute for word-processing, but never seem to get around to it…

    I'm 'comfortable' with XP, so I stick to it. It also helps to have it in front of me when acting as tech-support for the family. And then there's the old IE-testing issue… Other than that, I don't knowingly use any Microsoft products.

  • Megan says:

    My husband and I switched to Linux (Ubuntu) last year and haven't looked back. We use Opera, Firefox, and Konquerer for web browsing, Bluefish and Vim for development, Inkscape, Xara, and the Gimp for graphics, and Wine/vmware for running windows applications when necessary. He is going to be writing a series of articles on web development with Linux at A Padded Cell.

  • I am a happy men. One month ago, while I was on a job interview, I mentioned that I would prefere to work on a Mac. One week later I got the job, the Mac and other fancy Apple stuff.

    I got Parallels (for IE and Konqueror testing), ADmitMac (for Active Directory access), and a web interface access to our time tracking system and the Exchange intranet, which (bad but) works in Safari. The only thing I wish now is a mac version of Photoshop. They had one windows serial key over, so I got that and have to use the windows version over Parallels.

  • Well I must be different because I personally cannot stand Macs. I have used the latest 'U-Beut' ones at Uni and all I can say is give me a PC any day. I personally have had less trouble with PCs than Macs.

    I agree with all your points and I think with browsers like Firefox, Microsoft will slowly get out fazed or maybe (crossing fingers) improve 😯

  • I just read in Forbes that Bill Gates is still the richest man – 56 Billion Dollars. I use Mac at home and XP in the office. MS has some good products – XP is fairly stable. Excel and SQL Server are good. Otherwise, IE7, IIS, Front Page, PowerPoint, Publisher, .NET, Visual Basic, Bob suck. And Windows 95 and 2000 were better than OS9 and the context-sensitive right mouse button was ahead of Mac. Bad going on Win 98 and Win ME though. Oh well, now we have a choice because most of what we do is on the Internet anyway. Firefox, OSX, and a host of useful websites have given us a lot of freedom. But you can't discount MS completely. They helped make computing cheap, gave away a decent free web browser, made GUI for the cheap IBM clones, and created a lot of excitement about the Internet even though they wanted to own it all.

  • Tommy Olsson says:

    I use Linux at home (an old Red Hat 9 distro). With Apache, MySQL, PHP, Vim, the GIMP and Opera I can do all the web design/development I want. πŸ™‚

    At the office I'm stuck with the Redmond Virus (XP), but so far I've managed to keep away from .NET.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Wow, thanks for all great comments! I was a bit afraid

    that it would turn into some kind of Apple vs. Microsoft

    battle, but everyone have been fair and balanced. Also, a

    lot of new commenters, which is great! πŸ™‚

    Jeroen,

    My small needs is basically spell-checking and some

    formatting, so it probably wouldn't be for me;

    interesting to hear that you like the new Office so

    much, though.

    fiskhandlarn,

    Yep, NeoOffice is good for some needs.

    Roger,

    <blockquote cite="http://www.robertnyman.com/2007/03/08/phasing-out-m

    icrosoft-products/#comment-41192">

    frustrated and disgusted

    Really? No "The wow starts here"? πŸ˜‰

    George,

    I have been toying a little with Linux, mostly Ubuntu,

    but I like the default visual goodness of Mac OS X (yes,

    I know, Linux has that too). It's also that it seems to

    be too much Terminal hacking in Linux. While I like to

    have that option, I don't want to be dependent on it.

    Jules,

    NeoOffice is

    probably a good bet then for you.

    Shane,

    Yeah, I guess it all depends on context and what

    possibilities you have. Personally, I've just had it. But

    don't misunderstand: basically every day as a consultant

    is some kind of software/solution compromise.

    And I miss you too! I would have loved to be in that

    team; it's all my great friends! πŸ™‚

    Ash,

    <blockquote cite="http://www.robertnyman.com/2007/03/08/phasing-out-m

    icrosoft-products/#comment-41245">

    I give Linux a go every few years

    Jeena,

    Congratulations!!!

    Jermayn,

    That's just fine. You should use what you prefer, not what other people think is the new flavor.

    Jason,

    Oh, absolutely, not everything is bad. It's just that I don't like mos of their software.

    Tommy,

    .NET is creeping up on you, I'm sure. πŸ˜‰

  • Robert, again it seems we're taking similar paths.

    MacBook Pro – Got It

    MS Office – Nope

    IE – Just for testing

    .NET for WebSites – Am declining jobs for doing asp.net every month, although it brings bread and butter now … doing exiting stuff in Rails almost every day, and will be doing it full time very soon.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Morgan,

    Ah, copy-cat! πŸ˜‰

  • Maaike says:

    I use Win Xp at work and Ubuntu at home. I have a lot of experience working with Apple as well – and I don't prefer any of them. I really don't mind Win XP, in my experience it's actually faster and more stable than OS X (I do know other people have different experiences, though πŸ™‚ ).

    I don't use any other Microsoft software though, except for IE testing. I use Open Office, aMSN and Thunderbird, for example.

  • Joao says:

    Nobody mentioned Linux Fedora… I use it for web development and personally think it's the best distribution. (specially now with beryl if you interested in visual goodness)

  • Carl Camera says:

    Robert, my advice has not changed in twenty years: determine what software best suits your needs, then let your operating system and hardware choices follow. The biggest hurdle in switching is abandoning your software investment.

    After two Macs, I moved to Windows and have been with it for over several years now. I'm not zealous by any means, but content with its UI and performance and value. Interoperability is a breeze, third party apps abound and any new hardware (pda, bluetooth keyboards, you name it) will have Windows drivers. Some would say this is a lemming effect. I would say there's some truth to that statement :-).

  • PÃ&Acir says:

    @Robert, whats so bad about the .Net framework? I assume you mean the framework.

    Any who…, Im actually in the mood of getting a Mac with Leopard, it will probably be a Mac mini whenever they upgrade it with Core 2 Duo and 10.5.

    Cheers!

  • Hartvig says:

    I don't get the problem with .NET either. With. NET 2.0 you DO have 100% control (and you had that too with 1.1). .NET 2.0 does make it easy to generate (and ensure) valid (x)html STRICT. While I agree that the previous generation of MS Dev products was a disaster for web development, the latest (november 2005) is actually great and the coming (fall 2007) will be stunning. I know it's "trendy" to diss .NET and hail RoR, but instead of following the hype compare both fairly – RoR is brilliant, but so is .NET… Really!

    Disclamer: I'm typing this from a MacBook Pro using Firefox, I'm founder and dev. lead of umbraco (a .NET based open source CMS – that does give you 100% control over markup!). I'm pragmatic, and believe it's better to research whats best for my needs instead of purely following hype (not saying that you're not, Robert, but I think you're getting a little (too) fanatic in your anti-ms'ism ;-)). I've found .NET to be much better, faster to develop with and much more fun than it's rumour, while I agree that in some cases it can seem overkill for simple web development (except when using umbraco of course, where dev. and implementation speeds is faster than ever!). So give me 30 minutes, Robert, and I'll make you realize that .NET CMS doesn't have to be terrible πŸ˜‰

    2nd disclamer: umbraco.org is a standards disaster. I've been working too much on the software and haven't had time to do all the copywriting for the coming website, even though it has been ready a long time πŸ˜‰

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Carl,

    <blockquote cite="determine what software best suits your needs, then let your operating system and hardware choices follow. ">

    determine what software best suits your needs, then let your operating system and hardware choices follow.

    I most definitely agree. It's just that it was a long time, in my opinion, that any Microsoft software was the best for any of those needs.

    Pär, Hartvig,

    Ok, I should be more clear about .NET. First, it is definitely getting better and better, and web developers are getting a better environment to work with.

    And yes, it is completely possible to gain a 100% control of the code, but per the default .NET way of building web sites, you need to have one <code>form</code> surrounding the entire web page, additional HTML code gets rendered into the web page (some form elements, an inline <code>script</code> block etc) and as a web developer you are (or were, at least) pretty much encouraged to make anything JavaScript dependent.

    The tie-in between the generated HTML and the server-side layer is far too hard, and it usually leads to a less flexible end product.

    You could overcome all this, but then you had to do some serious tweaking on your own. Add to that working with third party CMSes that are forced down on you, with piss-poor implementations that doesn't give you full control, and you're stuck.

    But in the end, what I think is pushing me over the brink is all Microsoft-fanatic web developers who love .NET (and granted, as a System Developer, it has its benefits, although the compiling seems unnecessary and a bit inflexible for a web development language), but who are unwilling to see the shortcomings of its other parts.

    Very few web developers are smart enough to go the umbraco route and use XSLT to achieve complete separation of the different layers of the solution, but instead just bang their head against the wall, and ultimately delivering interface code similar to the one popular in the end of the 1990's.

    With all that said, I'm just fine with other people loving to work with it, and I definitely don't want to be someone spreading propaganda for just one ultimate solution nor coming off as being a hype follower. People should really use what they prefer.

    I think I'd rather advocate really knowing all benefits as well as all quirks of the solution you choose. As long as you don't completely do your homework, you will be a bad web developer and, ultimately, deliver poor web sites.

    I hope that explains it better… πŸ™‚

    At the end of the day, I respect good and caring web developers, not the technique they choose to use. Smart people make smart things, no matter what tools they have at hand.

  • Hartvig: you boys have been on my radar for quite awhile.

    It's impressive what you do with .NET, but it's certainly not the default way that MS intended it … and most of the bread and butter programmers using asp.net, don't really care about learning new ways of thinking, but just copy what they read in books… most of these books, sadly, just teach you to use the default web forms.

    Just last week I learned that 59% of the worlds .NET programmers use VB.NET!!!! That explains why MS have made asp.net to look as if you're programming VB.

    A select few are doing some stellar work with asp.net, but let's face it … most of us that want to constantly improve upon our work and get better satisfaction from it, are looking to other platforms.

  • I have used OS X for years, it is a good operating system except for one fatal flaw: It is proprietary.

    It should be apparent to all that if you use a proprietary operating system you are under the control of some large American corporation who cares not one whit what happens to your data. They can (and do) change formats at their whim and force you to pay a great deal of money for an inferior product.

    Also, .NET is an abomination that no one uses [ evidence ] and no one should. Most web developers are sheep who have no idea about computing, they just use what they have always used or whatever some employer puts in front of them. Well, the world has changed, and there are some extremely powerful tools that are building web 2.0 and have built the internet infrastructure from the beginning. The chiefest amongst them is perl, for which there already exists significant code to do anything one needs (look at CGI.pm, Ajax.pm, and DBI.pm for example) as well as Catalyst which is a framework like RoR. For the creative types Inkscape is a full scale vector graphics app with Gaussian blur, Blender is a 3D modeling suite par excellance and the GIMP can do nearly everything Photoshop can and more besides. Oh yeah, they work on all platforms and cost nothing. Yeah, free.

    Start thinking for yourselves people!

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Morgan,

    Oh, wow… VB.

    But yeah, the umbraco people are doing it good, so all respect to them.

    jeremiah,

    Absolutely, the risk of using proprietary stuff is big, and it's always a delicate balance.

    <blockquote cite="http://www.robertnyman.com/2007/03/08/phasing-out-microsoft-products/#comment-42066"&gt;

    ….NET is an abomination…

    Man, it's been some time since I heard such harsh words about it. πŸ™‚

  • John Battista says:

    If your thinking about switching to a Mac but worried about feasibility of testing software or loosing certain programs I would highly recommend parallels desktop. Its a VM program that runs very smoothly, I had it download and a virtual windows XP running on my computer in no time. I can run windows in a little window on the desktop or hit coherence mode to have the windows side by side. Unlike boot camp you don't have to restart or partition your drive you can work right off the same files in both os's. and unlike code weaver's crossover any app that runs in xp can be run inside parallels xp virtualization (you can also install vista as a seperate vm if need be).

    I did this so I could get a copy of office 2k7 up and running on the mac. I have honestly not found a single program as handy for taking notes in classes as One Note and love its click anywhere and start typing system. Not to mention several assignments have things like 'download the .doc file for instructions' or 'submit in .doc format'. Office 2k4 for mac is great and all but sometimes it still gives compatibility issues in 2k3 when saved as a compatible format… that is a bad way to go when sending something to a professor/client.

    The two things that make me like the mac over my previous windows machine are:

    expose (the preview of windows and stuff)

    the unix terminal you get such easy access to!

    they are just as bad as M$ about 'update downloaded restart your computer' dialogs and so far I'm having some ridiculous heat issues (default range of 178 F as ok on an internal thermostat is utter BS, it was too hot to type on). I'm hoping this model suffers from the incorrectly applied cooling compound issue and I won't have these problems forever!

  • Robert Nyman says:

    John,

    Absooutely, Parallels Desktop for Mac is a great product.

    And yeah, the heat issues are ridicoulus. For my take on my MacBook Pro, please read My MacBook Pro – first-time Mac owner.

  • Eric says:

    I actually quite like the new version of Office. I'm really into the ribbon bar. Its a really big improvement to the UI.

  • I wish you were right, but I highly doubt it.

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