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"Everyone hates Microsoft Office"
Pick a whipping boy – Excel, Outlook, Word, or PowerPoint. Especially PowerPoint. In a few short searches you can find unbridled hatred for any one of those products, usually from someone in Silicon Valley who was forced to run one of those reviled programs on their MacBook Pro and did so with teeth clenched the entire time.
The reality is that more than a billion people worldwide are running Office today. As someone who has been documenting the development of Office online for roughly two decades, I can tell you that the latest version of Office has some mind-bogglingly awesome features. If you’ve ever seen the charts I produce as part of posts like this one and this one, you know Excel’s capable of spectacularly strong infographics. I’ve tried doing the same thing with free, Open Source alternatives. No offense, but the results simply can’t compare.
And those same limitations are found across the board in the other apps that compete with modern Office apps. Let's face it: Microsoft works its tail off improving Office. Your average Silicon Valley tech journalist might despise Office, but those of use who use it to get actual work done beg to differ.
In fact, those billion people have had free alternatives for years, and yet they keep paying for Office. I’m sure Yogi Berra would have had a snappy way to explain that phenomenon, just as he once dismissed a popular restaurant by saying, “No one goes there any more. It’s too crowded.”
"Internet Explorer is a buggy, incompatible mess"
At some point you have to let go of the past. The Web Standards Project, which was founded in 1998, did exactly that in early 2013, saying “Our work here is done.”
When The Web Standards Project (WaSP) formed in 1998, the web was the battleground in an ever-escalating war between two browser makers—Netscape and Microsoft—who were each taking turns “advancing” HTML to the point of collapse. You see, in an effort to one-up each other, the two browsers introduced new elements and new ways of manipulating web documents; this escalated to the point where their respective 4.0 versions were largely incompatible. … The WaSP’s primary goal was getting browser makers to support the standards set forth by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
Thanks to the hard work of countless WaSP members and supporters (like you), Tim Berners-Lee’s vision of the web as an open, accessible, and universal community is largely the reality. While there is still work to be done, the sting of the WaSP is no longer necessary. And so it is time for us to close down The Web Standards Project.
Indeed, as someone who uses Internet Explorer 11 as my primary browser day in and day out, I can count on one hand the number of times each month I run into a compatibility issue. And 9 times out of 10 that issue arises because some Web designer with a chip on his or her shoulder has coded the site to fail when it detects Internet Explorer.
Hating on Internet Explorer 6 was a perfectly reasonable thing to do in 2008. But that relic of the early Web is dead and buried. Let it go, people.
"Bing is a money-losing flop"
This one stems from a fundamental misconception, that Bing (the search engine) is a direct competitor to Google (the search engine).
That might be the most obvious manifestation of these incredibly rich data-driven services to a casual observer (which accurately describes most of the pundits thumping the table for a Bing spinoff). But there’s a helluva lot more to Bing than just web search.
My colleague Mary Branscombe has done a much better job of explaining the role of Bing than I could. She explains, “At heart, Bing (like Google) is a huge machine learning system.” And key to that system is Bing’s engine for understanding what information is about, called Satori. She then goes on to list all the things that Satori powers:
Satori is a huge collection of entities: People, places, events, businesses, objects and the relationships between them. A movie is an entity; so is are the actors who are in the movie, so you can see that James Spader was in Stargate, and then jump to a list of his other movies. Bing knows that Yosemite is a place, so it has weather, and a national park, so it has opening times. Satori is what Bing can use to find tweets and Facebook posts from your friends about the movie you're searching for when you look at show times. If you want to show the right information to the right person at the right time, understanding that information is vital.
Satori and Bing are behind the new Smart Search in Windows 8.1 that shows you your own files next to results from the Web. Looking for the contract you need to sign this week with a partner might be a good time to see their share price and any recent news stories about them. Imagine all the other information that could include in future; search for the document you need on SharePoint and see what colleagues have said about it on Yammer without having to remember to go look on Yammer.
Bing drives the new version of the Windows Store in Windows 8.1. It’s behind Kinect and the amazingly accurate predictive keyboard in Windows Phone.
But more important than any of that, Bing is a counterweight to Google. In the present and even more so in the future, being able to combine, collate, and present information is a core feature of any computing device. If Microsoft gets out of the search business, it effectively hands over monopoly power to Google. That will not end well.