And the real reason is…

My apologies for abandoning the web for a few weeks, but I’m back. And to celebrate I am jumping into the current fray surrounding all things Apple. Consider this my official announcement to become, sometime in June, a fully-fledged iPhoneHomo (Think E.T. with disco music). I’m excited about the device, and I can’t wait to see what else is going on in the skunkworks at 1 Infinite Loop.

Now, let me begin my rant about how bad Microsoft is. And why not? If you’re going to start a new year, you might as well play with fire. With a generous tip of the hat to John Gruber for the point and the NYTimes for the info.

Dude, totally follow that last link, and then read, very carefully, the caption.

Just in case you missed it, I’ll point out the important part:

…but he uses an Excel spreadsheet to track his calendar.

Look, I’m not a CEO, and I don’t want to own my own company, but that quote, that simple fact right there, is why Microsoft is doomed to ineptitude. “How so?” you ask.

Why, let me just point out some of the facts in the case.

  • Microsoft builds software to solve problems and increase productivity – supposedly.
  • Outlook, which is the email, calendar and contact information manager of Microsoft’s Office suite, does, well, email, calendars, and contact information management – supposedly.
  • Microsoft’s own CEO, who isn’t an outsider, he’s someone who has been with the company since the beginning, doesn’t use Outlook for it’s core functions, instead relying on the sibling spreadsheet program Excel.
  • If Outlook didn’t suck, don’t you think that even Ballmer could use it?!?!

Using Excel in a hackneyed way to manage your daily life instead of the program that you’ve paid billions of dollars to develop, that you’ve paid billions more to market, that you’ve even created a specific server for (that’d be Exchange Server); and you don’t use it because… why? What possible reason can you have for not using it?

It’s too hard to manage. Is that it? Or it’s just too complex. Or it’s not compelling enough? It’s too hard to learn? There’s no reason to change? You don’t have the time to convert? You don’t understand the need to change? You sell it, nitwit, you better have a reason for that.

Contrast that with Steve Jobs of Apple who, in the most public of settings, uses a non-public-most-likely-pre-beta version of Keynote to promote the iPhone.

Keynote competes with a sibling to Outlook that most of us have sufferred under called PowerPoint. I’m sure that Ballmer uses PowerPoint for some thing, but, given he uses Excel for a calender, he could be using PowerPoint as a database. Who knows.

To be fair, does Jobs use iCal? We know he uses Mail (for email) and AddressBook (for contact management) and, now, I totally suspect that Jobs even uses iCal for his daily calendar, but only because of the new developments that are coming with Leopard, including the iCal Server.

Apple had an internal calendaring program that the company used – everyone at the company used it. Then they developed iCal and iCal server is brand new sometime later this year, and I’m pretty sure they are going to use their own technology going forward.

I’m holding them both to the same standard, but it’s the standard they define. Apple’s to Oranges, it’s all about the market.

If Outlook were 4 years old and Exchange server were brand new, no, I wouldn’t expect the CEO to be using it, yet. If said company was developing consumer software, I may never expect them to use it in the corporate office at all. If he runs an enterprise level business I expect him to use Enterprise level software.

But that’s just it – Microsoft claims that Outlook and Exchange are enterprise worthy tools. Yet the head of the largest enterprise in the world, a company with more money than most countries, doesn’t even use the product.

What’s the compelling reason to use Office? It’s not Outlook, obviously, but that’s the only piece that directly ties to server technology, so it’s compelling for Microsoft to sell it to you. Is it compelling for you to own, though, knowing that Ballmer, the Monkey-boy-in-charge, doesn’t even use it? What ground does he stand on when he says “it’s the best of the best”? Look, Ballmer, this isn’t a dig at you personally, it’s a shot at your entire company. And not from me, it’s from the world.

If you don’t build something you’ll use, how useful is it? If you can’t find a compelling reason for you to change your working pattern and learn to use the tool, why should anyone else? It seems that, as I’ve always suspected, Ballmer knows that Outlook just sucks.

Fine, Ballmer, I can see that, and I agree. But you don’t get to just ignore it or pretend it will go away. You’re the fucking C.E.O.


1 comment

  1. Whew! I thought I was the only one who couldn’t figure out how to use Outlook. Guess I’m in good company.

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