In the name of full disclosure, I’m a Apple advocate and believe that Less is More when it comes to almost anything in life including software. I use a Macbook pro at home and carry an iPhone in my pocket. I converted from the world of PC’s over 4 years ago and I have not looked back. I learned on PCs, was a Windows administrator and promoted their use for years.
Since going back into consulting about 4 months ago, my first assignment has been with a large insurance company that is what I would consider a Microsoft shop. Lenovo PC’s, Exchange, Outlook, MS Office, SharePoint and the dreaded Internet Explorer for surfing the web. It’s the typical enterprise setup of the uninformed executive. Microsoft has become the defacto standard and it doesn’t get challenged often enough in big business. Microsoft does a good job of marketing and selling to enterprise executives and they tend to buy into the sales pitch.
My challenge with this is that there are less expensive, less complicated and simply better tools to do the same job that Microsoft products provide. Why does this matter? Because productivity & a users daily workflow matters; not to mention stress levels due to annoying technology.
Here are just some of the tasks that take longer with a PC or simply stress me out in a day because of poor design.
- Rebooting and logging in to my Win7 laptop takes 3 minutes and 45 seconds which I do almost daily. On my Macbook, I rarely rebooted and when I did it was always under a minute.
- Going from home to office and vise versa. I have to reboot my PC so that it can connect to the network. Never had this problem with a Mac. It just worked.
- Internet Explorer is not a W3 stardard browser. This means that all the web sites that build W3 compliant web sites(like 90% of them) don’t work as designed with IE. Also, IE is just a slower browser overall and is no longer the dominant browser. Time for Enterprises to learn this.
- Outlook has 3 speeds: slow, slower and slowest. It takes so long to load, and it’s sluggish when it sends or receives mail — in short, it takes too long to do anything. Also, I have experienced about 5 crashes in 3 months where Outlook can’t find my email file until I reboot. Wasting another 3 and half minutes.
- Searching the entire computer is a pain and rarely works very good. Using Spotlight on my Mac is fast and I can find anything with the press of 5 keys.
- Copy and Paste in Word sometimes freezes my document and only a reboot fixes it usually losing some amount of data.
- SharePoint is sold as the solution to everything and is an over priced feature bloated content management system. It takes months to configure and deploy, the user experience is awful and your end users need to be technology pros just to contribute content. It only works in Internet Explorer(another Microsoft trick to keep you using IE) and it’s just plain clunky in my opinion. There are dozens of open source Content Management Systems that can do the job at half the price and simply better.
- Mouse vs Track pad. Those that have never used the Mac track pad won’t understand but read this.
- This list could go on and on for pages and if you use a PC, you probably have your own list.
All of this translates into wasted time and money, somethings every business should care about.
From my years of experience in the IT industry, I find that Microsoft has taken the approach of more features = better software and it has proven to not be the case. With every release of a product, it has more and more bloat added to it making them slower and more difficult to use and understand.
In contrast, companies like Apple, 37Signals and many other web companies have put the user experience and finding the path of least resistance to accomplish any particular task as the top priority. A book called Getting Real written by 37Signals explains this concept very well and if you are an executive in a “Microsoft shop”, I suggest you read it.
I guess the questions to executives of large enterprises would be.
Would you rather have more features in your software or would you rather have speed, efficiency and happy productive users?