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Articles: Flash Forward: a Microsoft, Adobe and Apple Software Smackdown

As a regular user of various Microsoft, Adobe and Apple software products, I’ve been able to develop a bit of an opinion as to whether they better resemble a 1976 AMC Pacer or a 2010 Mercedes.

I’m no software techno-geek, but I’m not a mechanic either. Despite that deficiency, I still appreciate and understand the differences between the ride of a nice new Mercedes and a Pacer. (My Dad bought a Pacer way back when, by the way. At the time, it kind of looked cool, in a geeky sort of way, but he eventually got so frustrated by its mechanical problems that he cut out great big yellow cardboard lemons, detailed all the issues on each lemon, taped them in the windows, and parked the beast as close to the dealership as he could.

(Nothing ever came of all that, but I think he felt better.)

Where am I going with this...

Like my Dad’s Pacer, Microsoft’s software regularly gives me mechanical difficulties, more than just about anything else I use. Both Word and Entourage are about as stable as a mound of Jell-o. Entourage quits on me a couple of times a month. If there weren’t such a dearth of good email programs, I would have drop-kicked Entourage out of my life a while ago. Unfortunately, Apple’s Mail isn’t a particularly good program for a power user, at least one who organizes his email the way I do.

Entourage is a bit better in that regard, but it is otherwise not written as well as Mail. But given a choice between walking ten miles and driving a Pacer, I’ll drive the Pacer every time, you know? An email program called Thunderbird is a possibility, but I haven’t had the time to try and make that change yet.

As to word processing, I began writing a book (just for fun) a while ago, and I started it in Word without a lot of thought. It was after a couple of chapters that I realized it was acting about as bloated and unpredictable as a pregnant woman.


Let's address that last point...

(Okay, I don’t mean any disrespect to pregnant women. Heck, they’re the reason our species survives. But most of them have to admit they were bloated some time during the pregnancy; it’s just the way it works. And for some reason, when I think of the word “bloated,” I think of a pregnant woman, who are otherwise possibly the most gorgeous human beings on this planet, truth be told. Maybe bloating is a way to keep them from gloating over their beauty, I dunno. Did I extricate myself from the danger of being attacked by vicious, bloated and unpredictable pregnant women armed with machetes and sharpened breast pumps with that shameless disclaimer? Only time will tell...)



Now that the sharpened breast pumps have been abated...

Anyway, Word acted slow, finicky, and occasionally crashed, so I drop-kicked it off my desktop and went to Apple’s Pages. Wow. Smooth. Quick. Responsive. Never crashes. Like a Mercedes coated with Teflon. Wrote 130,000 words and the thing never slowed down or quit on me. What a joy.

As to Adobe, let’s compare Final Cut Pro to Adobe’s Premiere. Oh well, let’s not. Let’s just say there’s a reason Final Cut has stomped all over that program like The Incredible Hulk would’ve stomped all over Pingping, the world’s smallest man (may he rest in peace).

In addition, Adobe’s Updater doo-hicky not only annoys the heck out of me, but the last time I tried to use it, it turned about as well as The Hulk crocheting a sweater for Pingping. Now I just tell the stupid thing to go away every time I launch one of the cumbersome, over-featured Adobe programs I have to use now and again. Throw in Adobe’s poor customer service, and I have no love lost for those guys.



Ah, there's my point...

While each of those three companies can be described as large, for some reason only Microsoft and Adobe regularly churn out kludgy, slow, bloated and bug-ridden programs. While Apple’s software offerings aren’t perfect, they are generally head and shoulders better and smoother.

Whether that’s from Jobs’ perfectionism, or just a stronger cultural desire to do things better, I don’t know. Apple still is, after all, the smaller platform, while the other two generally have monopolies on their categories (Word, Excel, Photoshop, for example), so maybe Apple is just more motivated. But each of those programs are good examples as to why consumers should always shop to support competition. Monopolies are only good in the board game.

With all that in mind, while I don’t know all that much about the quality of Flash, other than the fact that any site that uses it definitely loads slower because of it, I have to believe Apple is doing us all a favor by slapping Adobe around and not allowing Flash its mobile devices, like the iPad.

And of course, I do remember the ruckus that Apple caused by discontinuing the floppy drive inside its iMacs - at a time when floppy drive were still in use in some cases. They were certainly right about that (Sony just announced that it’s finally discontinuing the manufacture of their floppy disks), and my guess is that they’re right about dissing Flash. Couple that with the addition of HTML 5 video support, and it kind of feels like the writing's on the wall.

What do you think? Does Apple's lack of support for Flash signal the first steps towards it taking its place next to the floppy disk on the Great Wall of Tech Obsolescence?


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