Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Monday, June 09, 2008

Things Microsoft Did That Made Me Happy

I was very surprised recently when someone suggested I hate Microsoft. They had read my comments about Vista and auto updates and actually thought I might be a closet Mac lover. I don’t currently have a Macintosh but I have in the past.

I’ve spent a portion of my career working on products in both Cupertino and Redmond and still cherish my old project t-shirts. I’ve been a Windows programmer since Windows 3.0 beta so I’ve seen some great ideas come from Microsoft and I haven’t been shy of pointing out the bad ones. Over the years Microsoft has done many things that made me very happy so today, on the day of big Apple news, I’ll tell you a few of my favorites.

Standard Cut/Copy/Paste
You might say Microsoft stole the standard Copy/Copy/Paste standard from Apple but it’s not like Microsoft didn’t already have it implemented. They just made the decision to follow a reasonable standard. DOS was using some weird horrible combination of Insert/Delete and other keys that nobody could ever remember. Apple used the “Open Apple” key plus X-C-V for cut-copy-paste. Windows went with Ctrl X-C-V. Microsoft didn’t have to change but they did.

My Documents
I’m sure I’ve made fun of the My Documents and other “My” folders but it solves a serious problem. One of the biggest issue new users have always had was “Where did I save that file?”. Putting all the documents in one folder may get crowded but for novice users it’s a lot easier to find and is so much better than saving everything to the desktop.

Visual Basic
Anyone with a desire to be a programmer was suddenly able to create professional looking applications with just a little instruction. Professional programmers were able to create programs in a day that normally required months. I still use Visual Basic when I need a quick utility to process data.

Admitting Failures
You might not think so but Microsoft has an admirable history of giving up on bad ideas and admitting they were wrong. In the time I spent working at Microsoft I saw a number of projects killed. Examples include, an online replacement for HTML code named “Blackbird”, a video on demand service code named “Iceberg”, WinPad Handheld PC, the predecessor to Windows CE/Mobile and one that actually made it to market, “Microsoft Bob”.

International Localization
Microsoft made key decisions to launch Windows world-wide and make sure localized versions were available. While the US is still trying to figure out the metric system at least we have a standard operation system used globally. I can’t even begin to stress how important this is and how much it’s probably taken for granted.

So, what did Microsoft do to make you happy?


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Blogger cel said...

Off the top of my head - I love the "Edit" "Undo" feature

2:55 PM  
Blogger Corrine said...

"So, what did Microsoft do to make you happy?"

There are two things:

1) I love the changes to the search function in Windows Vista.

2) Microsoft created an operating system that is popular and, as a result, a target by malware writers. Not that I am happy the OS is a target, of course, but because it is I got to become virtual friends with you. :)

8:14 PM  
Blogger bertoray said...

System restore is good. I was happy to be able to get back online until I could figure out this ZoneAlarm/MS update snafu.

8:15 PM  

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