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Welcome to the Future, Microsoft. Finally.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Microsoft just (finally) released its latest iteration of their mobile phone OS, the Windows Phone 7 Series. I don’t know how it would feel on a real smartphone, as all of their previous mobile OS feels astoundingly crappy on any kind of hardware, high end or low end. Yes, I know that although partially it’s the hardware’s and their agonizing touchscreens fault, Windows Mobile 6.5 is still not only a painstaking software to use, but a complete garbage at the same time.

Judging from the video above, I must say that the interface design is impressive. It looks like that it isn’t just pure eye candy but no go like Vista, and it’s probably something that is really usable. Like Surface, perhaps, although I’m not too sure about their built-in browser here, they seem to exclude it from the videos I see. But it’s been ages since Microsoft made me to actually want to try something from them, it doesn’t mean at all that I’m ditching my iPhone, but I’m looking forward to try how this OS feels. Maybe, just like Windows 7, this is what Windows Mobile 6 should’ve been all along.

So where have you been, Microsoft? You should’ve pulled this off years ago. You have the money, resources, and practically everything you need to produce something real good and classy, so what took you so long and dumb enough to keep that ill-fated version 6 torturing people?

What the New Microsoft “I’m a PC” Ad Indirectly Means

Saturday, March 28, 2009

<a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-US&#038;playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:0bb6a07c-c829-4562-8375-49e6693810c7&#038;showPlaylist=true&#038;from=shared" target="_new" title="Laptop Hunters $1000 – Lauren Gets an HP Pavilion">Video: Laptop Hunters $1000 – Lauren Gets an HP Pavilion</a>

I’m sure that most of you geeks would probably have seen this ad around and performed PC-Mac battles everywhere. Long story short, it’s about Lauren who’s trying to find a sub-$1000 17″ notebook and got herself a dirt-cheap HP Pavilion notebook. The ad definitely showed that Lauren tried to get an Apple notebook at first, but decided not to because their lowest end notebook would be the $999 white MacBook that doesn’t even have a 17″ screen. This concludes the ad to give out this message: Apple’s hardwares are goddamned expensive.

I do have something to say about this matter, and I’m saying this as realistically as possible, without being an Apple fanboy. I believe both companies have their own reasons to build whatever they want to build, I still believe that Windows 7 is going to be the best Windows there is and craps out Vista any day, and I’ve got my own good reasons why I am now an Apple user and stays that way. While I could agree that Apple’s products are generally more expensive at a glance, it tickles me that Microsoft is advertising against Apple not with their own products, but with any notebook that’s definitely not Microsoft’s.

Here’s the deal. Microsoft, just like Apple, is essentially a software company. Microsoft makes Windows, Apple makes Mac OS X. But Apple takes this up a notch by building good-quality products to complement their software and lock their softwares (essentially) to only their hardware. This is probably what Microsoft see as a threat to them. I have no idea why since the ones building PCs for Microsoft is not themselves. If they are worried, don’t you think actual hardware manufacturers like Lenovo, HP, and Dell should’ve been the ones that should worry with Apple’s hardwares?

Apple also did competitor-bashing advertisements with their “Get a Mac” lineup, but instead of bashing Microsoft’s hardware (which does not exist except for accessories like keyboards or mice), they did a good apple-to-apple (no pun intended) comparison by putting OS X and Windows on a head-to-head fight.

So what does this ad really shows? It shows that Microsoft is that desperate to try saving their own ass with the havoc Vista brought upon them, using an apple-to-orange comparison. Microsoft, I hope your ad agency has a real good reason for this, because this is what I think you guys should really do:

  1. Fire Ballmer. If you could put someone on par and as competent as Apple’s (or probably any company in this matter) top guys, you might probably come up with something that is actually good. Personally, I wouldn’t want to buy something from a company that selected a primate to talk on keynotes. Convincing? In a mental asylum, perhaps.
  2. Why don’t you stop whining and stop trying to convince people that Vista is a good consumer OS. It’s not, and I don’t think it would ever be. So instead of focusing on how to get back on Apple for their Leopard’s victory over you and lurch out pointless ads, why not focus on Windows 7 instead and give what your users really deserve for their money.
  3. The least you could do is simplify your OS version lineup. Seriously. Who would fucking care that you have six different versions for Vista alone. Consumers need something simpler to choose from. Or is this just your elaborate marketing scam so that common users would give out cash for more features?
  4. If you want to counter Apple’s way of getting into your nerves, then try aiming for their software, because that is exactly what they did in the first place. With this ad, it’s as if you’re telling BMW to build cheap Tata Nanos. Apple has their own market, and no matter what the prices are, people will keep buying their hardware. And they wouldn’t even care if there’s a $200 notebook to compete with their 17″ MacBook Pro.

Some time ago, I got my hopes up with Microsoft when I was trying out Windows 7. Maybe they’ve come to their senses and could bring out a good and useable OS. But seeing what their reaction is like by keeping pointless ads such as this one in production, I think I’d have my doubts back.

On the other hand, are Apple’s products that expensive? If you calculated the features, the craftsmanship, and the software that they are bundled with, I personally think it’s worth the price. Therefore, it’s not really a matter of whether people should push Apple to come up with cheap products, but it’s a matter of whether you want to buy premium products or not. I think everyone has all the rights to position their products on a certain target market.

Windows 7: A Definite Improvement from Vista

Thursday, January 22, 2009

windows_7

My take on Windows 7 was long overdue. I’ve fiddled with it for more than a week already, and haven’t got the urge to write a simple review of it.

First things first, I’m going to compare Windows 7 with Windows Vista, considering that this is a successor to the crappy OS, my expectations are high on this one, but I am still wondering if Microsoft could pull this off perfectly or not. I’ve tried Windows Vista, I didn’t like it at all. It is a wasteful OS with huge requirements that required people to involuntarily upgrade their machines just to be able to unleash the OS’s full potential. And I don’t even know if there is such a full potential to Windows Vista. To that matter, I still prefer XP, no matter how bloated it is, it’s still far more useable for me compared to Vista.

I decided to take the leap on installing Windows 7 in my iMac’s VMWare Fusion. I know that this is probably not the best test bed for this kind of thing, and that it’s probably better to try this out in Bootcamp. But for the sake of convenience, this was what I opted for. I have an XP installed in VMWare (I need this to test websites in the bloody hell IE6 and 7 when required), so I can use that as a rough benchmark on how Windows 7 performs under virtualization.

I also took the leap on snatching the leaked Beta ISO off Bittorrent. The ISO, surprisingly small for an OS this class, takes only 2.44 GB. The installation also went smooth, I chose the Windows Vista pre-settings on VMWare, and it took care of the rest.

Compared to the installed XP, the Windows 7 feels faster. I can then assume that compared to Vista, especially under virtualization, Windows 7 is definitely better in terms of performance. It is indeed faster, and I hope, in the final product, it’s more efficient in managing its performance. This is a good sign. For once, Microsoft actually cared in rebuilding the inefficient parts of their OS.

In terms of visuals, Windows 7 looks entirely similar to Vista. The styling, the supposedly semi-translucent window borders (or in fact, almost everything), the start menu, Windows Explorer, and even down to the shiny and in my opinion, overly glossy buttons. Except for the new taskbar design, I didn’t notice anything far superior than Vista’s visual styling. I never liked overly glossy stuff anyway. It looks inelegant and resembles a riced-up Honda.

As what Gizmodo wrote, the new taskbar is indeed far more useful than what we’ve seen since Windows 98. It actually has more useful features that could probably make your life easier in the long run. But whether it could beat OS X’s Dock, I have no idea unless I am a Windows user again, which is unlikely. And since I use Quicksilver more often than the Dock itself in OS X, I can’t compare.

As of today, I still can’t get the full Aero (or is it still called Aero?) feature working on my copy of Windows 7. Maybe because I installed this under VMWare, and that it can’t get the proper graphics hardware emulation. I still can’t get the games to work here as well. It hangs every time I started any game. Maybe this is another VMWare install quirk.

Windows 7 is shipped with Internet Explorer 8. Which I believe, although it is definitely better than IE6 or 7, it is still IE, it still has its own problems. And at this point, I really can’t tell whether IE can perform better than Firefox or Safari, or will it suffer to the same set of problems like its predecessors. It is a good thing, though, that finally IE6 is going down to the graveyard.

One thing that matters for me, as a designer, is text rendering. This is one thing that OS X excels at. And just like XP and Vista, Windows 7 still renders text pretty much garbage, and it makes me itch when I see texts that aren’t kerned perfectly. The Clear Type settings are definitely better now, but in terms of proportionally-spaced typefaces, unless you’re in a software like Adobe, there are still much room for improvement in this OS.

Bottom line, Windows 7 is a definite improvement from that monkey-ball-sucking Windows Vista. It’s definitely faster and useable. It doesn’t impress me that much to switch back from OS X, but if you’re a Windows user looking for an upgrade, you can watch out for this one when it comes out. Of course, since this is from Microsoft, being a company who likes to produce multiple useless editions of a product for no reason, you might want to start thinking whether you should buy the Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate edition. Or maybe, they will release an Extreme Ultimate Edition, with ten autographs from Bill Gates on it. Hey, you’ll never know.

1986-2009: A Personal Computing History

Saturday, January 3, 2009

As a techno-geek, or so I said in my personal website’s About page, I never realized that since I blogged, I never archived my personal history with computers. As far as I remember, this is how computers affected my life.

1986: The Age of XT Personal Computers
This dated way when I was 3 years old, almost 4 in fact, when I was first introduced with the term MS-DOS, piles of 5.25″ floppy disks, and the fact that computers only have puny RAMs. That was the old days. I remembered that back then CPUs are humongous and horizontally placed, with those monochrome monitors on top of them. They also electrocuted me sometimes because the casing was made from pure metal. Softwares was simple at that time, although starting them out was not. Kids nowadays don’t have to struggle with DOS command lines like we did in the old ages.

1992: The Age of AT Personal Computers
I believe it was 1992 when Dad first introduced me to Windows 3.1. And yes, I never had the chance to feel what Windows 1.0 and 2.0 was like. I remembered that I used to have this 33MHz 386DX PC, the box where we played Solitaire, Ski, and Chip’s Challenge for hours.

1995: The Age of Windows
Three years have passed, and Dad bought me a new computer, it was a Pentium 120MHz PC. This was the time when the Start button came into my life, Microsoft Plus! was the hippest thing around, and Desktop Themes are there serving as collectibles. This was also the year I started to use the Internet, and learned HTML from scratch. Back then, Netscape Composer was a divine tool for me.

2000: The Age of Windows Part II
Another five years have passed, and my computer was due for an upgrade. I took a leap from a Pentium machine to a Pentium-III machine, with 600MHz to be spoiled, and a 32MB video card do vigorous (at that time) gaming. Also in this year, I also took the leap from Windows 98, to Windows 2000, to Windows XP.

2001: A Glimpse of the Other Side
I was on the eleventh grade, and I remember that a friend of mine, Jan Knut, was the only living person I know, by the time, who owned a green iMac G3. I can’t remember if his iMac was running OS 8 or 9 by that time, but it wasn’t Windows. It was so refreshing to see a trendsetter in real life.

2002: The Age of Windows Part III
Two years have passed and it was time again for an upgrade. I moved on from a Pentium-III machine to a Pentium-IV machine, but still on a Windows XP. I moved on from a regular CRT monitor to a flat-screen CRT monitor. And I also moved on from a 20GB hard drive to an 80GB. I also had a Toshiba Portege R100, which proves to be more of a burden although it was less than 2 kilos in weight. It was simply slow.

2005: The Dawn of the Mac
Three years have passed and my PC have constantly failed itself on me every 6 months, every 4 months, and eventually every 3 months. 2005 was the time of change for me, a time where I ditched the PC for my first Mac ever. It was my iMac G5, still running healthy, even until now, and I was a real deal Mac user ever since. I remember meeting Bibin in a computer expo, purchasing the computer for USD 1.900. It was not cheap, but it’s worth it.

2006: Mobile Mac
I decided to sell my Portege and convert everything that I use into Macs. This was when I got myself my last generation 12″ iBook G4.

2008: The Mac Age
It is time for another upgrade. After three years, my iMac G5 have served me well, but with the constantly changing technology, it is obviously getting slower with newer softwares. Thus, the 24″ Intel iMac was worth the upgrade, and I’m officially a Leopard user. This was also the year I procured my iPhone.

2009: The Future
What can I predict for my future with computers? One thing for sure is to retire my old PC and replace it with a brand new Mac Mini. I would probably retire my iPhone and get a new iPhone 3G, and if I’m lucky enough, a brand new MacBook by the end of the year, and to try Snow Leopard when it came out. And even though I despise Vista, I am looking forward to try Windows 7. Who knows? Maybe it is better than Vista.

I Thought Kompas was Way More Professional and I was Wrong

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Recently, there’s a bit of a misunderstanding, when an Apple-issued KB article stated that Apple recommends the use of antivirus softwares for their users. Somehow, this article showed up and a lot of news websites took the bait, including Washington Post, CNET, and BBC. All of this was a false alarm, as stated by Gizmodo, and Apple itself took the KB article down with a public statement.

However, Kompas, also took the bait. Not only that they conceived the news in a wrong manner, they didn’t even put the original cited link, and potentially put a wrong conception to those who don’t understand the OS, or worse, who hated it and thought Vista was better. I took the chance of setting this straight, and I have that screenshot of my comment here. Sadly, it never see it’s published status. After all, you’re never wrong, aren’t you, Kompas? Being a responsible asshole is an entire different thing than just being a dumbass. To me, you are simply the latter one, especially with such a bold “Mac tak lagi Kebal Virus” title on your article. Tell me, do you even use or tried one? I don’t think so.