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I sometimes post gripes about software annoyances and lisanne tells me I should stop hating Microsoft.

It's true that I don't like the way they do business, but I have reached a point where I'll use their software without complaint so long as it works well. And that's where the problem lies. For the most part, the software works well, but there are lots of little things that just puzzle me: "how can a company that does usability testing and has so many software engineers do [insert stupid design choice of the day here]?"

Okay, so some of the bad design choices are a direct result of their business practices (eg. lack of support for standards), but others are just silly. Or they are bugs that don't get fixed from one release to the next.

Today's gripe:

I'm resending an email making and corrections to the content. Message format is HTML, and the text of the original is in Times New Roman. I start typing and I get Arial, which is fine - I can change that easy enough.

Then I move to the middle of a sentence - the middle of a word in fact - and start typing. The Font box in the toolbar says Times New Roman, so that's what I should get, right? Not so. It changes to Arial. But wait, there's more! It puts a space on either side of the new text.

If I want to change "fine" to "firestone", why do I get "fi resto ne?"

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A lot of my gripe with Microsoft is their lack of testing; the rest is with something that happened to me while working for a Microsoft Strategic Partner, when they still had them.

This was before Microsoft was Huge, and Windows NT was only just released to the general market; before that people who using OS/2 mostly.

Microsoft came along to where I was working and told us about their new suite of products, and how they were going to get them into companies. Their option to get their Office software for $99 if you showed them a licence for almost any other software that did anything vaguely similar was a great move. The company I worked for would sell them the Lotus suite for $125 and then upgrade them to Office for another $99; and not even open the Lotus software. They got Office really cheap, and at the time Office was a LOT better.

But the problem I had was this....

A Microsoft technician came around to us and explained how their new software was going to increase sales for us. They had deliberately introduced several things into the software that did not work as was expected, and when these happened we would be able to sell our support time. They even had tools to allow us to retrieve data after apparent serious data loss. That is right, they did not fix the problem, they wrote tools that allowed us to charge the customer to get back data that should have been not lost in the first place.

They acknowledged that there would be customers that would not pay for this, and therefore lose data, but they said that as they got market saturation they would either have to (a) live with it, or (b) start paying for the service; it would be too hard to move away.

Those boys really knew what they were doing, because over 11 years later, it is still exactly as they told us it would be.

Welcome to the world of good computing. I honestly still believe that these things are found in testing, but they are not fixed to generate support costs.

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