I get especially excited about web browsers (I know, I know. I’m a browser geek). I was using the IE8 beta the day it was released, and I installed Google Chrome the day it came out (Chrome is now my default — I love it).
Like a lot of informed geeks, though, I skipped Microsoft’s Vista OS entirely. I currently work in an XP shop, and at home I run XP on my desktop and netbook. I have a laptop running Windows7, and I’m impressed. More on that later. Suffice to say I’m more of a browser geek than an OS geek.
Despite the fact that I abandoned IE8, I was excited to hear about the IE9 preview. There’s some good stuff in there — especially HTML 5 support. I figured I’d give it a test drive and see if it could give Chrome a run for its money. Guess what? No dice. IE9 doesn’t work on XP. Know what? I couldn’t be happier.
Web designers hate IE. Specifically, they hate IE6. And IE6 — despite being nearly three versions old — is still everywhere. That means if a web developer wants a site to work, he’s got to, in effect, hack it up to work with IE6.
There are really two reasons people don’t update past IE6. On the corporate side, companies have made proprietary software that won’t run in IE7 or 8, and they won’t update the software, effectively holding the end-user (or entire IT departments) hostage.
On the home computing side, the only people who still have IE6 are those who don’t know any better. They think the “e” on their desktop stands for “Internet;” they just click on it and get their Yahoo home page.
The fortunate thing is that most of those machines are aging out — including three I use daily. There are a lot of folks out there who need to upgrade.
Where Microsoft really screwed up in the last three or four years was in introducing Vista while selling XP the whole time. I mean, given the choice, people would obviously take what they were used to, rather than an OS that was roundly panned.
Web developers the world round should rejoice. The Windows XP era is coming to a close, and that means an end to the IE6 era.
But there’s something else going on here that the tech community should note: Microsoft is quietly making moves to end the “Microsoft is a big doofus” era.
You know what I’m talking about: The era in which Microsoft released Vista. And the Zune. And let Windows Mobile turn into a clunking mess. The company’s products were an inexhaustible joke.
But this is a new Microsoft era.
We’ve already got Windows7, which even Walt Mossberg says rivals OSX in terms of functionality and beauty. The Zune HD is hailed by critics as a gorgeous piece of hardware, though it’s still in catch-up mode and not quite ready to overtake the iPod Touch. And we’ll soon see Windows Phone 7, which looks gorgeous, powerful and intuitive — perhaps the mobile operating system with the most credible chance of leapfrogging the iPhone juggernaut.?Consider even that Microsoft Bing’s share of the search market has steadily increased since launch, and will likely continue as it takes full control of Yahoo search.
Microsoft, once (and still) the Goliath of the tech industry is quietly sneaking up on the tech world. It’s poised to regain what it’s been lacking so horribly for the past few years: mindshare. Google and Apple have led innovation while Microsoft bumbled around. And now, while Google and Apple are at each other’s throats, Microsoft has a real chance — as long as it does everything right.
I don’t know much about Randy Michaels, the CEO of Tribune Company, but judging by the comments on this post, he’s not very well liked. And I don’t know much about the post’s author, Robert Feder, either.
But I do know English. Sure, I abuse it from time to time, but almost always on purpose, and only for effect. And one of my pet peeves is jargon in the news business. The reporters and editors who worked for me will be more than happy to tell you about the lists of words and phrases I banned from new pages during my time as a managing editor.
I’m shocked that Feder chose to poke fun at Michaels for banned 119 words and phrases from WGN news. Why shocked? Because I can’t imagine anyone who appreciates the English language could successfully argue that “shower activity” is a better way to say “rain.” Or “youth” instead of “child.”
Feder’s argument is that Michaels has better things to do:
Sure, you’d think the chief executive officer of a company struggling to emerge from bankruptcy and desperate to salvage an $8 billion buyout-gone-bad would have better things to do than pester his underlings with crazy proclamations. But in the case of Tribune Co. CEO Randy Michaels, you’d be wrong.
I disagree. I’ve said this before: The news business is struggling because it has lost the connection with the audience. By developing its own tortured language, the business is slowly removing itself from our livingrooms.
So Michaels’ point becomes a pretty good one: Talk like real humans, and real humans will appreciate it. If your audience likes you, word will get out and your audience will grow. A bigger audience means more ad dollars. More ad dollars is good for business.
The most appalling thing to me is that Michaels is actually being attacked for this in the comment section, by people claiming he’s micromanaging, that he’s destroying the company, that he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Really? Are you really defending use of “5 a.m. in the morning” on your news broadcast? Or “giving 110%”?
In my mind, the list shows Michaels is paying attention to the broadcasts on his stations. He sees problems and he wants them fixed. Would anyone argue if McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner told employees they weren’t allowed to spit in Big Macs anymore? Doubt it. Michaels is trying to keep his newscasters from spitting in your Big Mac. Your response should be simple: Thank you. It’s about time.