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Myths of Snow Leopard 8: It’s Just An OS.

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Daniel Eran Dilger
Apple’s limited comments on Snow Leopard, the next version of Mac OS X due in about a year, have opened the playing field for rampant speculation. Here’s a look at a series of myths that have developed around the upcoming release. The eighth myth of Snow Leopard:

Snow Leopard is Just an Operating System


Stretching the Meaning of OS.
The definition of “operating system” has grown dramatically throughout the history of personal computing. In the 70s, CP/M was little more than a boot loader. In the 80s, Apple’s SOS, the “Sophisticated Operating System” developed for the ill-fated Apple III, introduced the novel idea of a modular driver architecture for printers, disks, and files systems. After the company returned to making Apple II models, much of SOS was salvaged in ProDOS.

Apple’s parallel development of the Lisa not only delivered an operating system, but also a full suite of productivity apps as part of the included Lisa 7/7 Office System software, the first consumer office suite. It would be another half decade before Microsoft bundled its Word and Excel apps with its newly acquired PowerPoint to release Microsoft Office for the Macintosh, followed by a Windows version.

In a 1987 interview with Dave Ottalini, Andy Hertzfeld said, “I did the Macintosh Operating System and I was very familiar with the Apple /// and especially in the I/O system of the Macintosh, I was influenced by the Apple /// [SOS] operating system.” The Mac’s System Software in 1984 added in the concept of developer Toolbox that enabled applications to share one set of code for drawing window controls, managing print and file dialogs, and later dealing with multimedia.

Apple bundled fewer apps with the Mac than the Lisa due to complaints from third party developers. Instead, the company partnered with Microsoft to deliver the Mac’s key productivity apps, a move that turned out to be Apple’s worst decision ever.

In the late 80s, NeXTSTEP built upon the idea of the Mac Toolbox; NeXT delivered high level, object oriented frameworks and visual developer tools for rapidly building applications on top of a Unix foundation. Steve Jobs’ new operating system went well beyond just booting up the machine. It included speech-enabled email messaging, DSP audio processing, PostScript color and transparency, a documentation reference library, dictionary, and even the complete works of Shakespeare.

Software Sells Systems

Apple III FAQ File
Lisa GUI Prototypes
Office Wars 1 – Claris and the Origins of Apple iWork
Office Wars 3 – How Microsoft Got Its Office Monopoly

The Expanding OS at Microsoft.
Throughout the 80s and into the 90s, Microsoft continued to sell the simplistic DOS, largely based upon the 1970s CP/M. The company started to bundle DOS with a Mac-like environment it called Windows, which started to become popular with Windows 3.1 in 1991. Microsoft shipped Windows primarily to port its Macintosh apps to the IBM PC in order to abandon its software partnership with Apple on the Mac.

After similarly backing out of efforts to work with IBM on a DOS replacement called OS/2, Microsoft next attempted to deliver Windows NT as an entirely new operating system for PC users, based loosely upon concepts from AT&T Unix-rival VMS, after Microsoft acquired Digital’s VMS developer team in the late 80s. Despite touting NT in the early 90s as the next Windows, Microsoft was unable to ship NT as a replacement to DOS for mainstream users until Windows XP 2001.

However, Microsoft’s greatest contribution in expanding the definition of the OS came from its efforts to tie products together to leverage its monopoly DOS position in order to advance its applications business. Prior to transitioning DOS users to Windows, it told developers to target OS/2. That left a vacuum for Microsoft’s own new Windows Office apps, which had not been wildly popular until then. By 1995, Microsoft was licensing Windows and Office together to PC makers as tightly integrated products, cutting out competition from third party apps.

Starting in 1996, as the Windows platform began to face the threat of the Netscape Navigator web browser paired with Sun’s Java, Microsoft began to insist that its acquired Internet Explorer was an integrated part of the OS, enabling it to expand its monopoly and stifle any competitive pressure. It has since tied in the Windows Media DRM architecture, and has also tightly integrated Office and the Outlook Exchange client. While sold separately, both have become very close to being an extension of Windows.

The company is now working to sell Windows, Office, and the requisite OneCare security software updates as a $70 per year subscription package called “Equipt,” basically making all consumer Microsoft software an über-OS for Windows PC users, and again shutting out the third party developers who have been flourishing in the vibrant niche of servicing Windows’ malware, viruses, and other security problems.

1990-1995: Microsoft’s Yellow Road to Cairo
Microsoft’s Outrageous Office Profits
The Unavoidable Malware Myth: Why Apple Won’t Inherit Microsoft’s Malware Crown
Five Factors Shifting the Future of Malware and Platform Security

Enter Mac OS X.
By the time the Mac OS X beta emerged in 2000, a desktop operating system was expected to include everything from an email and web client to audio/video playback and Office functionality. In order to compete against Windows, Apple had needed to partner with Microsoft to deliver Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, and Office on the Mac.

As Mac OS X began reaching a mainstream audience in 2002, Microsoft pulled the plug on Mac development, putting Internet Explorer and Outlook Express into maintenance mode and making minimal advancement to the Mac version of Office apps. For Apple to keep up with Microsoft, it would need to develop its own applications.

Mac OS X’s NeXSTEP legacy gave it a leg up on putting together an application portfolio. Apple had already adapted NeXTMail, a pioneering email client, into a decent email program simply called Mail, and shipped a central Address Book and later iCal scheduling client with Mac OS X. In 2003, Apple shipped Safari as its own standards-based web client. It later shipped iChat instant messaging and other supporting applications that rounded out the OS.

At the same time, Apple also began assembling a suite of multimedia apps in iLife: iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, and GarageBand. It has also put together an alternative to Office in iWork: Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. While both are sold separately from the OS, iLife ships for free on new Macs and iWork comes bundled as a trial that can be ordered online.

Why Apple Bounced  Back

Why Apple Bounced Back
AppleInsider | Road to Mac OS X Leopard: Mail 3.0
The Future of the Web: Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer

Mac OS X vs Mac Office?
The expansion of Mac OS X means something particularly interesting for Microsoft Office. Apple is describing Snow Leopard’s key feature as being support for Exchange Server messaging, a role formerly delegated to Microsoft. That makes it the next step in the company’s incremental independence from Microsoft’s software on the Mac, following its banishment of IE, Outlook Express, Windows Media Player, and MSN.

Snow Leopard promises to obsolesce Entourage. That being the case, it would make sense for Apple to bundle its Exchange savvy, Snow Leopard version of Mail, iCal, and Address Book into the next version of iWork for sale to PowerPC Mac users and others who don’t meet the minimum requirements for Snow Leopard. That move would also directly position iWork against Office and expand iWork’s user base on the Mac platform.

Current Office users sometimes argue that Apple needs to allow Microsoft to maintain its monopoly position in Office to prevent Macs from being shut out of the corporate world. Businesses do prefer to train employees in one set of software; iWork does not work like Microsoft Office, forcing companies to settle on one or double their user training efforts.

However, Microsoft has already began work to ensure that Office on Windows does not work or look the same as its Mac version. The Windows edition was given a Ribbon UI for marketing reasons, with a Start Button-style user interface branding to tie it into Vista. That wouldn’t work on the Mac side, so Microsoft gave Mac users an oddball, clownish user interface that is neither Mac-like nor immediately familiar to Office users.

Because iWork works like the rest of Mac OS X and is both consistent and intuitive, users will pick it up faster than having to learn the quirky, lipsticked pig that is Office 2008 for Mac. Even Windows users are likely to find iWork easier to figure out than Microsoft’s Mac version of Office. Apple’s iWork still has a ways to go in matching every feature of Office, but it offers a much stronger foundation to build upon than the current version of Mac Office.

Safari on Windows? Apple and the Origins of the Web
The Web Browser Renaissance: Firefox and Safari

Microsoft’s Scorched Earth Office Policy.
Microsoft is radically changing the Office user interface on the Windows side to force companies to adopt Vista while also attempting to stave off the advance of the free OpenOffice productivity software, which is also sold by Sun as StarOffice and by IBM as Lotus Symphony.

OpenOffice (and other competing suites, including some online productivity offerings) have worked hard to copy the look and feel of Microsoft’s Office to facilitate adoption by companies while requiring minimal new training. Microsoft’s response is to take Office 2008 in a patented new direction that competitors can’t follow, a trick it used to kill competition in the DOS market when it released Windows as a product that only appeared to work with MS-DOS, and subsequently Windows 95, a product that integrated MS-DOS.

With iWork, Apple didn’t try to copy the old Office look and feel, which has made little progress since the late 90s. Instead, it has fleshed out its own productivity software interface with direct feedback Inspector panels; Mac OS X-native, customizable toolbars; and close integration with other OS features from advanced graphics compositing to media library browsing to native font and color selection panels.

Office Wars 4 – Microsoft’s Assault on Lotus and IBM

This All Happened Before.
While Microsoft’s strategy of driving Office into a unique, proprietary direction makes sense as a way to disrupt compatibility and familiarity with open software, it is also leaving the door wide open for Apple to enter. This is exactly what happened five years ago when Microsoft dropped Internet Explorer on the Mac, creating a vacuum that resulted in Safari, which is now teamed up with Firefox in an effort to eat into IE market share and break open Microsoft’s proprietary hold over web development.

With advances in Javascript and HTML5-style sophisticated web applications, Safari is now helping to erode not only IE’s control over the web, but also break up Windows’ hegemony in application development. MobileMe demonstrates how rich, open web applications can provide familiar email, calendar, contacts, and other features using the cross platform web rather than a proprietary development platform.

While Apple hasn’t announced plans to to deliver iWork apps on MobileMe yet, their current availability for the Mac not only makes up for the weaknesses of Microsoft’s Mac Office 2008, but also directs attention to the Mac platform and its unique set of productivity apps.

By offering Snow Leopard and “iWork 2009” with Exchange 2007 support as well as integration with MobileMe and Snow Leopard Server’s push messaging services, Apple will be able to aggressively push Mac OS X and the Mac into new territory long held hostage by Microsoft.

Myths of Snow Leopard 4: Exchange is the Only New Feature
Apple’s Mobile Me Takes On Exchange, Mobile Mesh
Snow Leopard Server Takes on Exchange, SharePoint
Cocoa for Windows + Flash Killer = SproutCore

WWDC 2008: New in Mac OS X Snow Leopard
Myths of Snow Leopard 1: PowerPC Support — RoughlyDrafted Magazine
Myths of Snow Leopard 2: 32-bit Support
Myths of Snow Leopard 3: Mac Sidelined for iPhone
Myths of Snow Leopard 4: Exchange is the Only New Feature!
Myths of Snow Leopard 5: No Carbon!
Myths of Snow Leopard 6: Apple is Out of Ideas!
Myths of Snow Leopard 7: Free?!
Myths of Snow Leopard 8: It’s Just An OS.

Cocoa for Windows + Flash Killer = SproutCore
Apple’s other open secret: the LLVM Complier

Ten Big New Features in Mac OS X Snow Leopard

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37 comments

1 theskeptic { 07.10.08 at 7:21 am }

Microsoft may have blundered by changing the UI for Office 2007 so dramatically. The learning curve (for someone familiar with Office 97 – 2003) is now steeper for the latest version of Office than it is for OpenOffice.

For the Mac – the major barrier to widespread adoption of iWork by professionals is the lack of functionality in numbers (particularly pivot tables). Hopefully Apple will address that shortcoming soon.

2 henryblackman { 07.10.08 at 8:32 am }

Of course the next thing is Sharepoint integration. I wonder if that will/can happen?

3 jen729w { 07.10.08 at 9:44 am }

Great article as always Dan.

How’s this for an example of the incompetence of Microsoft: out of interest, I Googled “OneCare”. From the homepage, I choose the free security scan. This, of course, fails; I’m using a Mac. Of the 4 links presented, I was interested to see what (and how) they would sell me, so I clicked the “Upgrade your operating system” link.

I get a (custom, but still) 404. Magic.

4 Metryq { 07.10.08 at 10:22 am }

“lipsticked pig ” Classic! You should sell that on a T-shirt with a Vista pig, resource hog.

5 John Muir { 07.10.08 at 10:36 am }

I wonder if an article on Grand Central, OpenCL and the possibilities for Mac gaming is on the horizon?

I know they’re hardly the most important demographic: but most of the still committed Windows users I know are primarily gaming geeks who think nothing of spending twice as long messing around with their system and slapping in new hardware than they do in the games they’ve bought.

Consoles are certainly wearing their die-hard “PC gaming” cred down. But even so, new graphics cards are still considered “investments” and talk of their platform’s decline as shown in game sales figures make their faces red every time.

XP is still preferred of course. Indeed, I hear the occasional triumphant celebration when they find a forum describing how to fool a Vista only title to run on DirectX 9! It takes a minute to consider on just how many levels how unhealthy a sign that is…

They’re already betting against the iPhone matching the PSP or DS as a gaming platform. Easy pickings!

6 psteve { 07.10.08 at 12:14 pm }

Good piece, but when you say, “after the company returned to making Apple II models” you make it sound like Apple stopped making the ][ line when it introduced the ///. This isn't the case; Apple made the Apple ][+ all the time it tried to sell the /// and for several years after the Mac appeared. The machine was the cash cow that kept Apple alive for a long long time.

7 qka { 07.10.08 at 12:43 pm }

Keynote is definitely better than PowerPoint.

However, Pages is inferior to Word, and Numbers is inferior to Excel. While the Apple products may be good enough for casual users, they lack features needed by professionals and other advance users.

In particular, to the best of my knowledge, Pages does not support generation of Table of Contents and other Tables of ______, cross references, indices, and the like. It also lacks a grammar checker. Not that Word’s checker is perfect; however, it has on numerous occasions discovered my gross grammatical errors, like agreement of nouns and verbs.

If nothing else, Microsoft Office serves as a measure for Apple to compare their product against.

(I use Office 2004 on a Mac, and have used 2003 on Windows. I have tried Office 2007 for Windows and I agree that it is at best an infuriating mess – everything I knew how to do on the earlier version no longer works. Microsoft deserves all the opprobrium they have been given in changing their Office interface.)

8 John Muir { 07.10.08 at 1:08 pm }

@ qka

They are at least headed in the right direction. Office meanwhile seems to be off on a tangent at best. It certainly looks and feels quite the hog. While managing to lose its consistency too … on Windows as well as Mac, just as Daniel describes.

Could Office be the new Vista!?

My advice: OpenOffice for Office stalwarts, and iWork for people looking for a change, especially as it improves. Office 2004 can last you in Rosetta for a while yet.

9 geoffrobinson { 07.10.08 at 1:52 pm }

What’s important to compete with MS Office is not being locked out of file formats. If you can be compatible with MS Office file formats, those other products will have a niche. Now, most companies will stay with Office. But if I can opt out, read other people’s MS docs and them mine, there will be long-term success.

How much money has needlessly flowed to Microsoft via Office through the years? How many people honestly need anything beyond the features in Office 97?

10 Oleg S. { 07.10.08 at 3:23 pm }

Pages is not bad.

There is TOC-generation in Pages (3.0.2), not premium class, but it works. There is also a kind of grammar checking, called “Proofreading”. It is easy to make Pages look annoying and foolish by turning “Proofread as You Type” on. Better don’t: grammar is for humans.

Pages matures very fast. It was a broken toy in its first incarnation, but now it is quite a usable thing.

And it works fine with most of the MS file formats.

It may become a serious threat to MS Office one day.

11 zdp { 07.10.08 at 3:24 pm }

The company I work for has been using Office 2003 forever, but just migrated from Groupwise to Outlook 2007.

We’ve had numerous problems trying to get Office 2003 to work with Outlook 2007. The powers-that-be’s solution?

Upgrade us to Office 2007 too.

Viva la monopoly.

12 worker201 { 07.10.08 at 3:24 pm }

Couple things. First, the article mentions businesses “training” their employees to use productivity suites such as MS Office several times, and cites that as a reason why iWork isn’t gaining much corporate ground. I think this is a fallacious concept – anyone entering the job market today is expected to have at least basic knowledge of Word and Excel. I’ve never heard of any kind of training at the corporate level for non-specialized software.

Second, your definition of an Operating System seems kind of hazy. Based on the article, I understand it to be “the stuff that is installed on your computer at the factory,” which is a poor definition. Quicktime, iTunes, iCal, TextEdit, Font Book, and even System Profiler are all programs which run independently of the OS. The Operating System is “responsible for the management and coordination of activities and the sharing of the resources” (Wikipedia), and usually includes the GUI.

So based on this definition, your assertion that Snow Leopard is not just an OS is in fact true. Tiger, Panther, and OS 9 aren’t just OSes either. They are computing bundles, which include an OS (kernel, Quartz, Cocoa APIs, etc), a set of base system applications (System Profiler, Terminal, TextEdit, etc), and a set of OEM installed applications (Quicktime, iTunes, iChat, etc).

But there ought to be a handy word or phrase that describes the types of bundles we are talking about here. Happily accepting suggestions…

13 vanetten { 07.10.08 at 10:15 pm }

Transitioning from Office to iWork really deserves its own thread, but I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and can’t resist commenting on “qka’s” comment.

We have all used Office apps for a long time now… it has been very frustrating at times (as using MS apps can be), however we persisted because it was the only reasonable option.

As I look at the date stamps on the files within my Documents folder, I see that I made the switch from Power Point to Keynote in late 2004. I recall making the switch because my presentations looked so damned ugly in Power Point and I had seen so many beautiful Keynote presentations. It was hard at first and there were things I couldn’t easily express in Keynote. But like picking up a new programming language, I finally figured it out, Keynote matured and I filled in some of the missing graphics capabilities with OmniGraffle. I can now make better presentations… more quickly and with greater ease using Keynote. I wouldn’t use Power Point today if you paid me.

I made the switch from Word to Pages two months ago. I recall wrestling with the formatting of a numbered heading style using Word for several hours (you know what I’m talking about). I became so angry at how difficult MS made it to simply format some text consistently, that I flat out refused to ever author another Word document using MS Word. Once I made that decision, I found that I could do everything I wanted using the present version of Pages.

I’ve only launched Numbers a couple of times. Excel has yet to sufficiently frustrate me to make the switch. But given what I can do with Keynote and Pages, I’m quite certain I will be purchasing future versions of iWork and not future versions of Office.

14 dicklacara { 07.10.08 at 10:32 pm }

@ vanetten

“But there ought to be a handy word or phrase that describes the types of bundles we are talking about here. Happily accepting suggestions…”

I agree– here are 2 suggestions

1) WMD: Web Mobile Desktop

2) PS: Productivity System (I like this for several reasons: rolls off the tongue; P comes after O; PS is a commonly-used acronym)

Or, maybe, combine them: PS WMD anyone?

15 fatbarstard { 07.11.08 at 12:05 am }

The biggest weakness in iWorks is Numbers, but given that it is only at version 1.0 that isn’t a surprise. I need to have something similar to the Analysts Tookpak in Excel available in Numbers. Also, if Apple work figure out a workaround for the loss of VBA in Office 2008 then it iWork would become a more more attractive option – not only for me but for plenty of others…

I flat out refuse to buy or use Office 2008 – its a pig. Get that T shirt made!!

Dicklacara – not sure about PS… could sound a bit like BS… and we don’t want that!

16 John Muir { 07.11.08 at 6:00 am }

Numbers is definitely “1.0″, it’s there, you can see the potential around every sharp edge, but it’s not exactly viable compared to Excel.

Excel has long had the reputation as Microsoft’s best piece of software in fact, so Numbers’ task is hard. No surprise that it was introduced last in the iWork trio.

Fortunately for me, I’ve no need for a spreadsheet at the moment. But in past years I was quite the “custom formatting” jockey, using nested rules to transform all sorts of things in Excel so my spreadsheets were more like apps than static tables. When Numbers introduces a comparable system, I may well get back into it as I found that sort of thing actually quite neat!

Something Apple could really do well of course is integrate iWork with MobileMe or perhaps even a work branded sibling service, all via SproutCore.

Google Docs is currently hosting my library of documents going back to 1997. (WordPerfect and Pages alike had theirs pasted into the web UI with no troubles as Google Docs only supports .doc and .rtf import for now.) It’s great to be able to search and access that stuff wherever I am. But the experience so far is very Google and not at all Apple, so to speak.

Come on Apple’s web department: heal the horrors of .Mac with a battle hardened MobileMe and really get this stuff going. Our iPhones and Macs need you!

17 worker201 { 07.11.08 at 2:15 pm }

Actually, I’ve found that Numbers is far superior to Excel for certain limited applications. If you want to make a typical accounting spreadsheet, Excel is probably the better choice. Numbers doesn’t do stats all that well either. But a lot of people use Excel for table-display of non-numerical information, something it is terrible at. Numbers is very good at making clean and easy to read tables. So it’s definitely aimed at a certain type of spreadsheet user. Excel, like all Microsoft software, tries to be everything to everybody – with quite varied results.

18 AppleScience { 07.11.08 at 3:53 pm }

Two quick thoughts:
1) Microsoft was subject to anti-trust lawsuits over bundling of IE, Outlook, WMP, etc. At what market share value does the inclusion of Safari, Mail, and Quicktime subject Apple to the same lawsuits? (Not that I want that but as Apple’s market share increases, this is a concern).

2) As an owner of both iWork (curiosity) and Office (necessity), I can say for scientific work iWork just doesn’t cut it yet for anything other than Keynote. Pages shows promise but Numbers will be a while. Once Numbers improves, I’m sure the scientifically-oriented macros (i.e. real-time PCR analysis) will become widely available for it as well.

BTW, the complaining over Office 2007 and Office 2008: Mac is more than a little over the top. The changes from Office 97-2003 aren’t THAT huge. It takes about a day to learn and make the program considerably better.

19 josh { 07.11.08 at 10:06 pm }

couple things…

keynote is gaining on powerpoint. i’ve been doing some consulting where i use keynote to seemlessly integrate powerpoint slides with quicktime video including after effects animation for an advertising agency client of mine. it’s a huge pain to integrate any mac workflow into a corporate environment but all the agency people are very supportive of my efforts because they say that when they pitch using keynote it elevates the whole presentation. i also have been noticing that other agencies are starting to use keynote as well. it just looks cleaner and more modern.

second thing… am i the only one who finds the whole mac mail / address book / ical thing annoying. i use entourage not for exchange server but because it lets me keep one program open to handle all those functions. it does a pretty good job with integrating with my imap mail server, too.

20 StrictNon-Conformist { 07.12.08 at 2:55 am }

BZZZ!

Your lack of historical perspective and low-level programming or hardware experience, combined with intellectual laziness when pressed for time has nailed you again: the Apple /// SOS is far from the first operating system to incorporate file system and device drivers. Before Unix, there was MULTICS which certainly had those things built-in as part of a complete OS: I haven’t done a complete check of all previous operating systems, but I can tell you that device drivers and file system drivers aren’t nearly that young of a realized concept in the world of computers. Most things we take for granted in our microcomputer operating systems started out on larger, older types of hardware (which the lowest-end Apple computing device made right now would blow away, though there might be I/O superiorities in comparison) and trickled down. A lot of the names may have changed between then and now, which I really wouldn’t expect someone without historical knowledge and low-level experience to have, but a lot of the concepts really haven’t changed or advanced all that much from before the time you were born for the basic and not-so-basic OS.

So, while the Apple /// SOS was indeed, rather sophisticated for its time for the hardware, and had features MS-DOS wouldn’t get for many years, it’s unwise to claim it had the first device drivers of any operating system, and I’m sure if more due diligence was committed to the task, you’d find it wasn’t the first 8-bit OS that had device drivers and file system drivers, either, but you just haven’t cast a wide enough .NET.

21 danieleran { 07.12.08 at 7:10 am }

@SNC: What personal computers were running Unix or Multics in 1981 when SOS appeared?

Consumer systems weren’t able to run anything approaching Unix until the late 80s. NeXT was pretty vanguard for using Unix in the early 90s, and it cost $900. Linux was barely usable until the mid 90s.

Before you start blowing smoke about “intellectual laziness,” perhaps you should take the effort to read the context of my comments: “the history of personal computing.”

Your high volume, low value criticism laced with over the top arrogance is becoming tiresome.

22 John Muir { 07.12.08 at 8:39 am }

Yep.

I guess he is at least following the Troll’s code of practice!

23 hodari { 07.14.08 at 1:35 am }

For those who are complaining that Microsoft changed the Office interface – and that there is a learning curve – well there is an addin that will change the interface back to 2003 http://blogs.pcworld.com/tipsandtweaks/archives/005682.html.

There is also a free addin just google it.

The change is a welcome for me personally – I think it was long overdue. The new ribbon makes me more productive because it is very logically laid out. I can minimimize most of the stuff I do not need and I generally work on a menu that is just single line thus giving me a full page of writing space or number cruching space and when I need the extra services I can access them quickly – good work on the Office team.

24 PGB { 07.14.08 at 10:01 am }

An interesting discussion.

I’ve used Word from version 1.0; a sad necessity that I would always avoid if I could.

Having used Keynote regularly since it’s release I had been anticipating the Pages debut and bought a copy right away. Now I was in the middle of polishing a Masters thesis in Word at the time; the kind with lots of complicated tables and illustrations so I left the new Pages uninstalled on my desk till i got time to play.

I was about 80% done when I realised Word was not printing properly the diagrams I’d lovingly crafted for days in Illustrator, no matter what I did it refused (as only MS software can) to play nicely.

With time running out for the first submission I installed Pages, with no real expectations, but it translated that thesis with all its formatting, tables and illustrations near perfectly and printed the graphics properly to boot.

I had to make some adjustments I admit but that first version of Pages saved my deadline and I was sold. Since then I use it in preference to Word unless I have to collaborate with an Office user. I’d prefer to send out PDFs than Word docs anyway.

Pages has continued to get better. Not up to complex legal documents with references and such I grant but that doesn’t diminish it’s general utility and it’s a pleasure to use compared to any version of Word IMHO.

25 hodari { 07.14.08 at 2:34 pm }

PGB you state – “I’ve used Word from version 1.0; a sad necessity that I would always avoid if I could.” If you could – it means you cannot. Can you give us an insight as to why you cannot ?. Thanks

26 thecleric { 07.14.08 at 4:29 pm }

When you state, “the Lisa not only delivered an operating system, but also a full suite of productivity apps as part of the included Lisa 7/7 Office System software,” you’re close. The Lisa 7/7 was the second version of the app suite released. The first was just called the “Lisa Office System,” and only had five apps.

27 PGB { 07.14.08 at 7:53 pm }

hodari, my first experience with Word was in 1986, well before Windows and Office. In those days there were no hard disks and there was a 32Kb file limit that I didn’t know about till the book I was having transcribed locked up and was lost. A full week’s work at 60wpm. I wasn’t impressed.

I was also an early adopter of Quark XPress, having decided that PageMaker was not up to pro typesetting. Anyway, like a lot of people who enjoy the typographic power and design opportunities inherent in good layout software, I would always prefer to dump word docs into Quark than engage in the arm-wrestle that is required to get Word to produce aesthetically pleasing documents.

I do admit though that it has always found a place in my workflow, and at times a valuable one. Like it’s ability to order paragraphs alphabetically has been priceless on more than one occasion, but if I had to use it as my primary tool I would probably avoid work or do something else. You see I enjoy being productive and I don’t find Word has ever helped in that endeavour.

As I said before, the only time I feel compelled to use Word is when I have to collaborate with people who have no alternative. At these times I just grin and bear it, since I’m usually the one that has to do the final knocking into shape.

I do have Office 2007 but will refrain from comment as I haven’t done anything significant with it yet. And my habit of opening .doc attachments in Pages means that aside from the aforementioned lipstick which I think makes the UI slightly cleaner looking, I haven’t got much to add yet. Hell the way things are going I may never have.

Cheers

28 dicklacara { 07.14.08 at 8:09 pm }

@PGB

Do da name “Kensh Rutha” srtike a familiar note?

:)

29 PGB { 07.14.08 at 8:12 pm }

Hey Daniel, I meant to tell you I’ve been reading your stuff for quite a while now and enjoy it immensely. Nice to see a historical rather than hysterical perspective!

30 PGB { 07.14.08 at 8:22 pm }

@dicklacara

Ha! ResEdit rules eh? I’m sure you would never have done anything inappropriate.

Some old hands here, feels good, don’t have to feel so old!

31 dicklacara { 07.14.08 at 9:29 pm }

@PGB

I owned some computer stores in that era… MSFT was screwin’ us back then (too):

1) we promote the new MS stuff & MSFT direct sells to end users before shipping to resellers… all our signups bought direct!

2) the store needed to buy every sales person a copy (full wholesale) of word just to demo to customers…

Kensh Rutha saved our (and MSFT’S) bacon.

32 John Muir { 07.15.08 at 7:48 am }

@ dicklacara & PGB

http://www.mactech.com/articles/mactech/Vol.02/02.02/Feb86Mousehole/index.html

That’s the only other on-target Google hit I found besides for this very comments thread on “Kensh Rutha”. No doubting you guys’ old timer hacker cred! :D

33 hodari { 07.15.08 at 3:37 pm }

PGB Thanks for the insight. I started using Wordstar on an Apple IIe using the CPM operating Sytem by Digital Research. Wordstar was the Industry Standard and dbaseII and VISICALC for business Applications. In fact – most of the features and functionality of the wordstar were ported over to Microsoft Word and almost all other wordprocessors. The key combinations of CTRL C, CTRL V, CTRL B etc were first conceived by Wordstar and they continue to be used on the Windows Platform.

I have spoken to a number of editors at Oreilly and they have confirmed to me that the software used primarily for long documents is FRAMEMAKER.

As for the reason people do not switch from Word – it is human nature. We are always conformatable with our own sanctuary and generally we prefer not to go out of the boundaries. A few brave souls will try. There is very little that is offered across by other products relatively speaking to Microsoft Word and there is no justification to switch. Take the case of Louts Symphony – IBM is really working very hard to clean up the software and present it as a viable option for business users but the consumers are just not ready to move. People do not just wake up one day and decide they want to switch OS Platforms or applications – there must be solid justififcation to do so. Howsever, this does not imply that other products and development should stop. On the contrary development should continue.

I can see some things that PAGE has implemented cleverly like tables etc but it is not adequate enough to justify to switch. Further more, these titles such as PAGES and NUMBERS are at a very early stage of development with respect to functionality and features. As you stated – you have been using word since 1986 that is more than 20 years and that itself is an attestation that the software has matured to some extent and will continue to do so.

Office 2007 is on a league of its own – and Microsoft has not stood still. Microsoft Office LIVE is way ahead of the game – keep an eye on it.

34 what its worth { 07.21.08 at 3:36 pm }

One thing the author has not taken into account is the revolutionary approach of google’s mobile apps which, although very buggy now, could one day make both ms and apple’s productivity suite obsolete.

35 John Muir { 07.21.08 at 5:37 pm }

@what its worth

And one thing you may have not taken into account is a little something called SproutCore, as discussed a lot here recently, which may well be Apple’s greatest gift to Google (and everyone backing an open internet)…

36 Al_C { 07.25.08 at 7:05 pm }

Daniel, more great stuff. I have a small historic quibble with “This is exactly what happened five years ago when Microsoft dropped Internet Explorer on the Mac, creating a vacuum that resulted in Safari…”, unless you have some insider info I don’t.
I remember this differently—IE development was stopped after Apple launched Safari, not the other way around. Not that I miss it…

37 PhilipWing { 08.15.08 at 1:59 pm }

I hate to throw in a tech support request here, but at least it’s on subject, I think.

I have an AppleWorks database, which is one of iWorks weaknesses and the last reason several of us still use AppleWorks. I have some people who insist on beating themselves with chains and want it converted to Access, which Microsoft also doesn’t provide on the Mac side. Ideas on how to do this. My wife (who owns this database) and I really recommend that our target use Quicken or QuickBooks instead (as it’s really a check register), but for now they own neither product.

Ideas? I was thinking about giving Bento a try, but my wife doesn’t like the idea of spending anything for this conversion project. Export for databases is very limited in AppleWorks, a version 6 issue if I remember correctly.

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