In my previous columns I may have inadvertently given the impression that I dislike Microsoft as a company. Nothing could be further from the truth; I have a deep appreciation for some of the good things that Microsoft has done in its many years in the tech industry.
In this column, I will spell-out exactly what I love about Microsoft. No, it won’t be a long column but Microsoft has done a few good things and they deserve to be recognized for it.
Hey even Mussolini got the trains to run on time right?
5. Microsoft Flight Simulator
Although I haven’t played it in ages, I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Microsoft Flight Simulator. I’ve always thought it was an amazing experience and I had my share of fun trying to fly a plane here or there over the years.
Microsoft has certainly kept updating the game over the years and they should be commended for their efforts. They haven’t allowed it to stagnate and they’ve taken advantage of ever-faster hardware to bulk up the game’s features and quality. I love that MFS is still around after all these years.
The hate part comes in when, after playing it for a little while ages ago, I realize that I couldn’t fly a plane to save my life! I constantly crash when trying to land and I never could wade through all of the details and instructions on how to really take advantage of the game.
I hate to admit it but I’m a rotten pilot. No, I’m a truly terrible pilot. If you were ever on a plane with me and somebody was needed to safely land the plane because the pilot passed out…keep me away from the controls! I do great until I’m about to land and then the plane ends-up careening onto the runway or worse—off the runway altogether!
Still, even after all these years, I think Microsoft should get a pat on the back for Flight Simulator. If they ever came out with a Mac version, I’d probably buy it…and then swear my head off as I smashed into the ground for the 10,000th time!
4. Windows Gaming
Speaking of games, I feel that Microsoft should be given credit for its ability to make Windows a viable gaming platform. This is something that Apple has never achieved on any of its platforms (and I’m skeptical that the iPhone will be any different) and probably never will.
Yes, it’s true that Windows as a general OS sucks for the most part, and I don’t like using it and I never will. But let’s face it, if you’re a gamer than Windows is the place to be and Microsoft must be given credit for working hard to make Windows a platform that attracts gaming developers.
When you walk into Best Buy or even Walmart, there are a ton of Windows based games you can buy. You never have to worry that you won’t have a wide selection to choose from and no matter what your tastes are, there’s bound to be something that will interest you.
That’s not to say that Windows gaming doesn’t have its issues or headaches. Certainly configuring games to run on your system or making sure your system has the horsepower to run a particular game can be very frustrating for the user. But some of that is outside Microsoft’s control so it wouldn’t be fair to blame them for all of the problems related to Windows gaming.
Apple could and should take a clue from Microsoft about gaming.
3. Microsoft Project
Windows and Microsoft Office tend to get far more attention in the media than the low-key and rather boring Microsoft Project. But—back when I ran Windows—I found Microsoft Project to be a useful piece of software and I liked it better than Microsoft’s bloated Office Suite. Yes, I know we’re talking apples and oranges here but MP deserves to get a little praise now and then.
Let’s face it though, project management software isn’t glamorous like the XBox 360 or “cutting edge” like Web 2.0 applications but it is a necessary tool for many people and I’ve always secretly admired it for the value it brings to organizing tasks. I make no claim to being an expert with it though as my own needs are usually fairly modest when it comes to planning projects. But it’s good to know that the additional feature sets are there if I need them.
And it’s true though that Microsoft Project might be overkill for some other users too. Not everybody needs everything it can do but for the users who can—it’s a very helpful application. It’s a shame that there’s no Linux or Mac OS X version. Yes, I know there are other project management programs out there but not all of them fit the bill for power users or for those standardized on Microsoft’s products.
So how about it Microsoft? How about a Mac and Linux version of Project?
Hey, it never hurts to ask right?
2. Microsoft Natural Keyboard
It might surprise some people that I always use a Microsoft Natural Keyboard. I’ve been using them for years and years now and I still love them.
Oh I tried Apple’s god-awful and lame “chiclet” keyboard but I couldn’t stand it! The keys ended up hurting my fingers and I couldn’t stand the way they were laid out. What on earth was Apple thinking when they created that monstrosity? The only reason I bothered with it was because it came with my iMac. Coolness doesn’t work well when your fingers ache after using the keyboard. Ugh.
Microsoft, for all its many faults, makes some great keyboards. I don’t particularly care for some of the “overloaded with features” versions such as the Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000. I really don’t need such as zoom, hot keys, internet hot keys, multimedia keys, etc. That stuff is all overkill to me, but for some people—it might provide a great benefit.
But I sure do need the ergonomically comfort of Microsoft’s Natural Keyboard and I’ll be sticking with it until somebody finally comes up with a better keyboard. And yes, I have looked at some other keyboards particularly the Logitech ones but they just don’t seem to measure up to my old favorite. You’d think somebody could come up with one that beats Microsoft’s but, to date, I haven’t seen anything.
I’m not holding my breath either.
You’ll have to pry my Microsoft Natural Keyboard from my old, cold, dead fingers.
1. Microsoft Trackball
I hate mice. I absolutely despise them all, including Apple’s stupid mini mouse or mighty mouse or whatever it’s called. You see I have carpal tunnel so mice hurt me after just a few minutes of use. I regard them as medieval torture devices and I pity the fools that actually use them.
Once upon a time I used a Logitech Trackball type product. It was great until it started to wear out. So I went to the store to get another one and found that my product was gone and there was a new version. Unfortunately it had a terrible hump to it where you put your hand. I tried it and couldn’t stand the damn thing!
So I tried Microsoft’s and found that I liked it. So I sit here in front of my beloved iMac, with my iPhone next to it, and sitting on the same coffee table are my Microsoft keyboard and trackball. What kind of Apple or Microsoft fanboy am I then? I guess I just love the best of both worlds.
Sometimes you just gotta go with what works no matter who makes it. And Microsoft’s keyboards and trackballs are fantastic. It’s one area where Microsoft absolutely destroys Apple and where Apple’s sense of design screws up everyday utility.
So there you have it, folks. Five reasons why I’m a secret Microsoft fanboy.
If only they got out of the operating system business and just made peripherals—they could rule the world!
Why do you love Microsoft? What are your five favorite Microsoft products? Tell me in the comments below.