Are Microsoft reverting to type?

I read on Dennis Howlett’s site that Microsoft strong-armed the magazine PcPro. PcPro wanted to distribute a beta of Office 2007 on its cover disc and according to Tim Danton of PcPro:

as part of the conditions for allowing us to include Office 2007 on the cover disc, Microsoft Corp – in many ways a company distinct from the far cuddlier and more approachable Microsoft UK – wouldn’t allow us to put any open-source software onto the same disc

Then further in Dennis’ post I also read that Microsoft are going to start charging $1.50 per download of Office 2007 beta. I’m sorry, what? Microsoft you should be paying people for beta testing your software (and finding all the bugs in it for you) NOT charging them for the privilege of so doing.

“Hi, we’ve just developed this new prototype car. We’d like you to take it for a test drive for us to see are there any problems with it. Oh, and that’ll be $1.50 please.”

Yeah, right – welcome back evil empire. The mask slipped there just a bit, didn’t it?

20 thoughts on “Are Microsoft reverting to type?”

  1. Office 2007 is a chunk of crap. Sorry, but it is. In basic terms it’s Office 2003 wrapped in a ribbon – literally – only with lots and lots of crashes. It’s like they were harking back to the good old days of Windows Me instability or something.

  2. Eh, yeah it crashes. It’s a beta.

    The PCPro CD thing is a bit childish I agree but it’s fair enough if Microsoft want to charge for a beta download. It’s only $1.50 after all – not even the price of a cup of coffee.

    It’s also a heck of a lot less than $20 Apple were looking for the initial OS X beta.

    http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=33363

  3. I’m taking that as a yes. 🙂

    Anyone tried Vista? I have to say I was impressed with that, but they seem to be reverting to type with that too — losing the admin confirmations, for example.

  4. Derek,

    just ‘cos Apple charged for a Beta too (6 years ago) doesn’t justify Microsoft doing it now.

    The amount Microsoft are charging is not as important as the fact that they are charging for it. Microsoft are trying to generate buzz around their new operating system by making it available for download and are getting users to report bugs in the software for them.

    Now Microsoft, by starting to charge their beta testers for this privilige, are going to reverse the goodwill they have generated around this new OS.

  5. Tom, this is for Office, not Vista.

    BTW Microsoft also let you try Office online using a remote desktop thingy so you don’t even have to download it.

    I honestly don’t see the beef here. There are tons of other beta/community releases that Microsoft provide for free if you’re interested. They even sent out shiny DVDs of stuff most of the time for nothing.

    It’s not as if, oh I don’t know, switch to a completely different hardware/software architecture nulling and voiding your software in the process every five years like some other companies…

  6. D’oh! You are, of course, absolutely right Derek – my bad – it is Office not Vista they are charging for. I have drunk some coffee in the meantime so I am slightly more awake now (v. bad night with the baby – woke at 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 and 8!).

    On the Apple dig – the switch to OS X was one of the best moves Apple made. They now have an OS streets ahead of anything that has ever come out of Redmond and the switch was handled quite well – anyone with OS X could also run OS 9 apps for years after the rollout.

    Similarly with the rollout of the Intel architecture. All the PowerPC based software will run on intel based Macs so the “nulling and voiding” comment is inaccurate.

    Yawn. Oops – off to get more coffee!

  7. Don’t have me come over there and slap you one. 😉

    I agree the switch to OS X was A Good Thing. All I saying is that Apple care less about providing upgrade routes and backward compability for their users than Microsoft do. The histories of Windows and Mac OS proves that.

  8. Huh?

    I’m obviously missing something here Derek. OS X ran all OS 9 apps (full backwards compatibility) and similarly with the new Intel Macs – they run PowerPC software.

    What are you referring to here?

  9. Derek,

    OS 7.5 and 8 apps never had any problems running on OS 9 (or by extension OS X). OS 7.5 first shipped in 1995. Many System 7 apps could also run under 9 with the exception of one or two very early OS 7 apps.

    OS 7 (called System 7 at the time) came out first in 1991 – I think we can safely ignore anything before that.

    How’s that for backwards compatibility?

  10. Not as good as Microsoft’s – VisiCalc came out in ’81(ish) and runs on XP. 🙂

    How many years do you think it will be before Apple cut off support to PPC owners? I’ll bet they won’t get support for as long as Win9x users did.

  11. Derek, you can’t base your argument on a single app. In that case, MacDraw – a program which came out with the first Macs in 1984 has been demonstrated to run on OS X.

    How many years do you think it will be before Apple cut off support to PPC owners? I’ll bet they won’t get support for as long as Win9x users did.

    What are you basing that on? If programs written in 1984 run on OS X today 22 years later who is to say that programs running today won’t run on Macs in another 22 years?

  12. I’m not basing it on a single app – to give Microsoft their due they go to incredible lengths to ensure backward compatibility with third party applications across versions of Windows. Raymond Chen talks about this (http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2003/10/15/55296.aspx and http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2003/12/23/45481.aspx).

    Apple will undoubtedly cut off OS support for PPC owners sometime within 5 years. Look at their previous record on this – Tiger which was released in April 2005 doesn’t install on low-end G3s released in 1999. Leopard arriving 2008(?) may only run on G4 processors and up (the last G3 product being released in 2003). The successor to Leopard will most likely follow that trend.

    That gives Apple hardware a life span (in terms of active Apple support) of 5-6 years.

    You can of course try to run your PPC software on your mactel box but that’s dependant on two factors: a) if it runs under emulation and b) if it runs satisfactorily under emulation (c/f PhotoShop).

    It’s because Apple are a far smaller ecosystem that they can do this. If Microsoft followed the Apple route they would be slaughtered in the press.

  13. give Microsoft their due they go to incredible lengths to ensure backward compatibility with third party applications across versions of Windows

    As do Apple – see my point on MacDraw.

    Tiger which was released in April 2005 doesn’t install on low-end G3s released in 1999

    I’m sorry but bollocks. Yes it does install on G3s. I have Tiger loaded on my son’s IMac G3 with 192mb ram. It is slow but it works fine.

    Leopard arriving 2008(?) may only run on G4 processors and up (the last G3 product being released in 2003)

    May only run on G3s? Again based on what? Yes it may only run on G3s and Vista may only run on Core Duo’s aren’t Microsoft the right bastards for not supporting backwards compatibility in Vista, maybe?

    By the way, Leopard will ship late 2006 or early 2007 (I’m betting 2006 for the Christmas market) not 2008.

    Derek, you seem to have a bias against Apple which you can’t support with any facts. Apple have gone the distance supporting legacy OSs and legacy architectures. Deal with it.

  14. Tiger would not install on the iMac slot-load w/o Firewire – a G3 machine released in 1999 (although it would install on a high-end tower released in 1998).

    I’m sorry, but them’s the facts directly from an Apple-related site. http://forums.macnn.com/archive/index.php/t-288180.html

    Vista will run on a 800Mhz computer with 512MB RAM (http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/capable.mspx). No doubt it will crawl, but it will install.

    Re: Leopard – my bad.

    I have no bias against Apple. In fact my next machine will be a MacBook.

    I just find the ‘Microsoft is evil’ tirades tiresome – particularly over $1.50. It’s still $18.50 cheaper than the same stunt Apple pulled. And that’s without inflation taken into account.

    If you judge this as an example of Microsoft being evil then surely you must hold Apple to the same standard thereby proving that Apple are 13.33 times more evil than Microsoft.

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