The Never-Ending F*up

| The bastards at Microsoft have done it again!

empty message
Blank message from Jim

The backstory. In recent weeks I've gotten a few emails, usually from my friend Jim, that appeared to be blank. Oh well, he must have hit the Send button too quickly, I would surmise. Yesterday, I decided to reply (to all): "Jim, you're losing it. Another blank message. Wasssup?" This morning, Bob weighed in, "Hmmm? I saw the cartoon in Jim’s email."

Now what?

Soon Jim replied, "Hmmm, I sent it as RTF format from Outlook. Are you reading with Outlook?"

Thanks to Google, the mystery soon resolved itself.

What the f* is up with that? Does Microsoft really believe that users of Outlook only communicate with other users of Outlook?


Let's stipulate that Microsoft has done a world of good for personal computing. By standardizing the way the desktop looks and the way programs work, users can readily leverage what they know to new programs. When you've learned one Windows program, you know that every Windows program will have a File menu where you can perform tasks like Save the file you're working on, Open a previously saved file, or start a New file. It's like the VCR: not everyone will know how to set the clock, but they can be sure there will be Play, Rewind, and Fast forward buttons.

But unfortunately, Microsoft has confused standardizing things the Microsoft way with standards. This is precisely the kind of gotcha that has gotten Microsoft in trouble for trying to create a de facto monopoly. There seems to always be some secret dependency so that only Microsoft programs will work together and other programs work poorly or not at all.

Ever since Eve was a rib — MS-DOS in computing history — you have been able to copy something on your screen by highlighting it with the cursor and pressing CTRL-C. In Windows Live Mail you can still press CTRL-C but it might or might not copy what you have highlighted. To copy it reliably you have to right click and select Copy from the context menu. Even using Edit > Copy from the menus does not work reliably.

The Microsoft browser, Internet Explorer, is infamous for not following the standards for page layout in browsers, so web developers have to create hacks to detect if the user is using Internet Explorer and then compensate for the differences from the standards. And, of course, those differences differ from version to version.


I'm of half a mind to go buy a Mac.

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018



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