Thursday, March 09, 2006

Microsoft as earnest contractor? It depends...

Ross Rubin in his Switched On column, feels that Microsoft is being quite earnest in trying to please its' customers.

I would contend, that this earnestness exends only so far as determining which version of Windows the customer should be running. Sometimes, especially in the area of mobile devices, the devices should not be running Windows at all. But with Gates and Co., that is never an option, no matter how much sense it makes.

Early versions of Windows Mobile were nearly unusable, as they forced the user into the Windows "Start" menu paradigm, rather than Palm (who currently has its' own assortment of problems, like relevancy) who created a simple interface that was best adapted for how a mobile user interacts with a PDA. I still remember having to ask someone how to enter a URL into mobile Internet Explorer.

I see Microsoft repeating their mistakes again in the form of the UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC). Rather than design a interface which is available in seconds, and mostly concentrates on staying out of the way, we will end up with Windows XP Tablet Edition with the edges sawed off. By the time it is done booting, your opportunity for using that spare moment in time will have passed, and soon, it just gets left at home.

In this arena, I think Nokia has the right idea with the 770 tablet. It runs a version of Linux and has no hard drive. It is optimized for casual use. Turn it on, use it, put it away. It fits in a coat pocket and weights about half a pound. And sells for $350.

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