“Just say no to Microsoft” an interesting read

Publishers occassionally ask me whether they can send me books so that I can review them. Increasingly I’m turning them down (it makes me feel guilty when I don’t write about them).

But, I met the publisher, William Pollock, of NoStarch Press at BarCamp over the summer and liked him and his books sounded interesting, even if they were mostly about tech topics I wasn’t that interested in.

Anyway, they asked a while back if I’d like some books and I said sure. So, today when I get back from CES I found one waiting for me titled “Just Say No to Microsoft.”

Now, on first reading, you might think I should be offended by such a book. After all, the basic premise of the book is to live life without Microsoft. Switch to a Mac or a Linux machine and all that. The subtitle of the book is “How to Ditch Microsoft And Why It’s Not as Hard As You Think.”

But, I find that I learn more from contrarian approaches than from the “everything is hunky dory” approach and this one hasn’t disappointed yet.

Every Microsoft engineer and product planner should read it.

Why? It’s a great specification for where our products fall short and demonstrates very well how our products and company are being perceived on the street.

If that was the extent of it (to be a bible to people who hate Microsoft, and to be a spec for Microsofties for how to improve our products) then that’d be a fine reason to have this book, but there’s more.

I actually am learning how to do stuff on Microsoft’s products that I didn’t know before. There’s a ton of tips in this book about how to use Microsoft stuff. Which, is sorta funny, given the title and premise for the book.

Oh, and John Dvorak says he isn’t getting paid attention to by Microsoft’s PR folks anymore in the foreward. Oh, John, I thought you were a blogger now and Christopher Coulter keeps telling me not to pay so much attention to bloggers (and particularly to ones that don’t seem to write much about tech)! Just kidding, you know you can just write me an email if you aren’t getting good info from us anymore. I’ll go shoot a video and get all the answers you need.

And, to Tony Bove, you never expected an endorsement for your book from a Microsoft employee, did you?

49 thoughts on ““Just say no to Microsoft” an interesting read

  1. I Like this book, I wish have that book. Because I’m GNU/Linux single fighter in my collage, againts the Micro$oft Campus Agreement.

  2. I Like this book, I wish have that book. Because I’m GNU/Linux single fighter in my collage, againts the Micro$oft Campus Agreement.

  3. All,

    I disagree respectfully, because i’ve been using microsoft products for almost 12 Years. It has been fantastic and its given an advantage over my competitors. Well everything has a drawback and other products also do have when you talk about cost of ownership, support and delivery management.

    Well I believe all Operating systems, application have got their own pros and cons but it is up to us to decide what we need and what we buy.

    Thanks

  4. All,

    I disagree respectfully, because i’ve been using microsoft products for almost 12 Years. It has been fantastic and its given an advantage over my competitors. Well everything has a drawback and other products also do have when you talk about cost of ownership, support and delivery management.

    Well I believe all Operating systems, application have got their own pros and cons but it is up to us to decide what we need and what we buy.

    Thanks

  5. Pingback: Get Off Microsoft
  6. I picked the best looking font for the job — score 1 for Microsoft. It’s great that I never had to use any software from Microsoft (and especially that I did not have to buy any) to use this font. My only hope is that the font will never be a security risk.
    :-)

  7. I picked the best looking font for the job — score 1 for Microsoft. It’s great that I never had to use any software from Microsoft (and especially that I did not have to buy any) to use this font. My only hope is that the font will never be a security risk.
    :-)

  8. Robert is correct in that Verdana was designed for Microsoft by Matthew Carter and Tom Rickner and is wholly owned by Microsoft. It doesn’t get much more Microsoft tech than that.

    True anyone who fails to acknowledge Apple’s invention of TrueType and the place it plays in the history of publishing and computing doesn’t know their computing or publishing history. There’s a whole chapter on the “Font Wars” in Robert X. Cringely’s Accidental Empires which covers this.

    The ClearType patent issues are not quite as clear as Robert indicates, the speculation is that Apple is covered by the MS/Apple cross-license.

    Apple’s TrueType patents are far more interesting, especially if you’re looking to use the freetype rasterizer.

    Sorry to hijack the thread – more for those of interest here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TrueType

  9. Robert is correct in that Verdana was designed for Microsoft by Matthew Carter and Tom Rickner and is wholly owned by Microsoft. It doesn’t get much more Microsoft tech than that.

    True anyone who fails to acknowledge Apple’s invention of TrueType and the place it plays in the history of publishing and computing doesn’t know their computing or publishing history. There’s a whole chapter on the “Font Wars” in Robert X. Cringely’s Accidental Empires which covers this.

    The ClearType patent issues are not quite as clear as Robert indicates, the speculation is that Apple is covered by the MS/Apple cross-license.

    Apple’s TrueType patents are far more interesting, especially if you’re looking to use the freetype rasterizer.

    Sorry to hijack the thread – more for those of interest here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TrueType

  10. Tony: we own the patent on Cleartype which we’ve licensed to Apple. It is indeed hard to escape from Microsoft stuff completely. The Verdana font face was designed by Microsoft (or, more accurately, a typographer who was paid by Microsoft) too.

  11. Tony: we own the patent on Cleartype which we’ve licensed to Apple. It is indeed hard to escape from Microsoft stuff completely. The Verdana font face was designed by Microsoft (or, more accurately, a typographer who was paid by Microsoft) too.

  12. I use Dreamweaver (on a Mac) for Web pages, and WordPress for my blog. I don’t think I’m using Microsoft tech — TrueType fonts are considered “Microsoft” except that Apple did most of the TrueType work. Anyone know more about this?

  13. I use Dreamweaver (on a Mac) for Web pages, and WordPress for my blog. I don’t think I’m using Microsoft tech — TrueType fonts are considered “Microsoft” except that Apple did most of the TrueType work. Anyone know more about this?

  14. I see this…

    font face=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”

    …on Tony’s site as an endorsement of Microsoft’s typography efforts, and also shows that it’s hard for even the most ardent critic to totally avoid Microsoft technology.

  15. I see this…

    font face=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”

    …on Tony’s site as an endorsement of Microsoft’s typography efforts, and also shows that it’s hard for even the most ardent critic to totally avoid Microsoft technology.

  16. No, I didn’t expect an endorsement. Thanks for giving the book a fair review. After decades of using alternatives alongside Microsoft products I was convinced that this topic would never die. With this book I hope I can at least prod industry folks into thinking “outside the box” and take contrarian views into consideration. I also hope I can help all those friends and relatives who struggle with their computers and use me as free tech support. I made a special present of the book to my aunt, who keeps asking me “which computer should I get?” The book is not very technical for a reason — I wanted ordinary people to enjoy reading it.

    As for alternatives, I’m using Writely.com with FireFox to write this — Writely.com is a free Web-service word processor that didn’t make it into the book (which was essentially finished over the summer of 2005). While not as complete an alternative to Word as OpenOffice.org or NeoOffice, Writely.com nicely handles basic HTML text editing and is quite good for blog writing. The problem with computer books is that the industry moves too fast, and publishers typically release books in either the Fall or the Spring. To keep the dialog going and provide updated info, I recently started Get Off Microsoft (http://www.tonybove.com/getoffmicrosoft/blog/).

    Just Say No to Sony is not a bad idea. I’m attending the keynote at Macworld Expo on Tues. as of this writing, and a number of folks have asked if I would write Just Say No to iTunes. I would rather write Just Say No to DRM (digital rights management). Again, thanks!

  17. No, I didn’t expect an endorsement. Thanks for giving the book a fair review. After decades of using alternatives alongside Microsoft products I was convinced that this topic would never die. With this book I hope I can at least prod industry folks into thinking “outside the box” and take contrarian views into consideration. I also hope I can help all those friends and relatives who struggle with their computers and use me as free tech support. I made a special present of the book to my aunt, who keeps asking me “which computer should I get?” The book is not very technical for a reason — I wanted ordinary people to enjoy reading it.

    As for alternatives, I’m using Writely.com with FireFox to write this — Writely.com is a free Web-service word processor that didn’t make it into the book (which was essentially finished over the summer of 2005). While not as complete an alternative to Word as OpenOffice.org or NeoOffice, Writely.com nicely handles basic HTML text editing and is quite good for blog writing. The problem with computer books is that the industry moves too fast, and publishers typically release books in either the Fall or the Spring. To keep the dialog going and provide updated info, I recently started Get Off Microsoft (http://www.tonybove.com/getoffmicrosoft/blog/).

    Just Say No to Sony is not a bad idea. I’m attending the keynote at Macworld Expo on Tues. as of this writing, and a number of folks have asked if I would write Just Say No to iTunes. I would rather write Just Say No to DRM (digital rights management). Again, thanks!

  18. I may have been frustrated enough by the Windows OS to switch to Mac, but I do still use MS Office on the Mac and I have to admit that it does get the job done quite nicely. Microsoft isn’t perfect, but they do some things quite nicely.

  19. I may have been frustrated enough by the Windows OS to switch to Mac, but I do still use MS Office on the Mac and I have to admit that it does get the job done quite nicely. Microsoft isn’t perfect, but they do some things quite nicely.

  20. I am not sure what your inention was with that crack, but as far as ignoring John C. Dvorak, that’s not good marketing, he still has a HUGE wide swash of a mainstream audience, even if the Web 2.0 and extreme geek crowds throw darts at his skeptical outlook (which actually isn’t as skeptical lately as I’d like). You don’t market to only people you like, you market to what is there. Letting personal opinions and petty squabbles interfere with product marketing is death on a corndog stick.

    This is Marketing 101, it’s about relationships (and demographics), and cattcalling won’t win you any friends. I can’t stand the extreme hubris of half the blogs, and I think Mossberg is quite the loopy nuthead, but if I had a product to market, I’d still rope them all in, and maybe even change my “religions”. Hey, Marketing people are like that. ;)

    But blogs are the easy way out for Marketing goofballs, too easy to slag it to the blogs, never leaving your Desktop, call that Marketing. Sorry, wrong answer. Marketing is hard work, it’s Events, Trade Shows, Advetising gameplans, and being creative with nothing…etc. It’s hitting the beat, getting beyond just 10% of the maket, it’s doing favors for media guys that have nothing to do with product pitches, it’s understanding the demands of reporters and editors, it’s not this ‘us vs. them’ blogwarfare.

  21. I am not sure what your inention was with that crack, but as far as ignoring John C. Dvorak, that’s not good marketing, he still has a HUGE wide swash of a mainstream audience, even if the Web 2.0 and extreme geek crowds throw darts at his skeptical outlook (which actually isn’t as skeptical lately as I’d like). You don’t market to only people you like, you market to what is there. Letting personal opinions and petty squabbles interfere with product marketing is death on a corndog stick.

    This is Marketing 101, it’s about relationships (and demographics), and cattcalling won’t win you any friends. I can’t stand the extreme hubris of half the blogs, and I think Mossberg is quite the loopy nuthead, but if I had a product to market, I’d still rope them all in, and maybe even change my “religions”. Hey, Marketing people are like that. ;)

    But blogs are the easy way out for Marketing goofballs, too easy to slag it to the blogs, never leaving your Desktop, call that Marketing. Sorry, wrong answer. Marketing is hard work, it’s Events, Trade Shows, Advetising gameplans, and being creative with nothing…etc. It’s hitting the beat, getting beyond just 10% of the maket, it’s doing favors for media guys that have nothing to do with product pitches, it’s understanding the demands of reporters and editors, it’s not this ‘us vs. them’ blogwarfare.

  22. Hey, thanks for the pointer, this looks cool on both fronts!

    I do have to say in defense of Microsoft’s PR folks that if they’re ignoring John Dvorak, join the crowd and more power to ‘em.

  23. Hey, thanks for the pointer, this looks cool on both fronts!

    I do have to say in defense of Microsoft’s PR folks that if they’re ignoring John Dvorak, join the crowd and more power to ‘em.

  24. I disagree with thy endorsement. Now you’d think as a ‘critic’, I’d welcome it, but no dice, as dismissing out of hand, is an emotionally-charged religious decision. I don’t agree with the premise at all, such is not an educated, nor reasoned, approach — you need to stand on each others shoulders, things Microsoft does well, and things Linux does well, and as is best-suited for, and things Mac does very well (FCP).

    And anybody that follows the recipe of this book is certainly no gamer, which is a major fallacy of that theory. Microsoft rules in gaming on the PC, and Vista will cement that, with Direct X10 and such.

    These zero-sum games, have had an answer since approx. 30 AD…

    Render unto Microsoft the things which are Microsoft’s, and unto Linux and Apple the things that are Linux and Apple’s…

  25. I disagree with thy endorsement. Now you’d think as a ‘critic’, I’d welcome it, but no dice, as dismissing out of hand, is an emotionally-charged religious decision. I don’t agree with the premise at all, such is not an educated, nor reasoned, approach — you need to stand on each others shoulders, things Microsoft does well, and things Linux does well, and as is best-suited for, and things Mac does very well (FCP).

    And anybody that follows the recipe of this book is certainly no gamer, which is a major fallacy of that theory. Microsoft rules in gaming on the PC, and Vista will cement that, with Direct X10 and such.

    These zero-sum games, have had an answer since approx. 30 AD…

    Render unto Microsoft the things which are Microsoft’s, and unto Linux and Apple the things that are Linux and Apple’s…

  26. Is that an Amazon affiliate tag in the URL you’re linking to, Robert? A kickback from any sales of this anti-Microsoft diatribe? And they say Americans don’t do irony… :)

  27. Is that an Amazon affiliate tag in the URL you’re linking to, Robert? A kickback from any sales of this anti-Microsoft diatribe? And they say Americans don’t do irony… :)

  28. Mr. Pollock should turn the book into a series. A couple of obvious choices would be “Just say no to Sony” and “Just say no to Verizon”.

  29. Mr. Pollock should turn the book into a series. A couple of obvious choices would be “Just say no to Sony” and “Just say no to Verizon”.

  30. “Still. Its a small price to pay to get 50% of my CPU back, and not see a single blue screen of death so far.”
    That sentence destroys any credibility you might have ever had. 50% of your CPU? Stop drinking the stuff under the sink, its making you crazy.

  31. “Still. Its a small price to pay to get 50% of my CPU back, and not see a single blue screen of death so far.”
    That sentence destroys any credibility you might have ever had. 50% of your CPU? Stop drinking the stuff under the sink, its making you crazy.

  32. umm, is there something in the book that people could not get from just reading slashdot and other pro mac stuff.

    Sure I could read them, and believe all the crap they say, which to me is almost like watching FOX news.

  33. umm, is there something in the book that people could not get from just reading slashdot and other pro mac stuff.

    Sure I could read them, and believe all the crap they say, which to me is almost like watching FOX news.

  34. Yes, every MS employee should read that book, and understand just how clunky MS code is.

    Media player on Pocket PC ? Yeuch. I now have an iPod. Compare and contrast.

    Floating property windows on OpenOffice write, as opposed to “dialog box death” in world.

    Lovely. Cant wait till Tiger hits intel…

    I “just said no” to MS four weeks ago, when I threw away XP and got Fedora Core 4, open office, skype, etc.

    And would you believe, the only two apps that I *had* to reinstall an XP partition under VMWare were ?

    iTunes and Lotus Notes.

    Amazing. Still, we get a new Lotus Notes workplace component – native for Linux – soon… And gtkpod will suffice for the moment.

    Still. Its a small price to pay to get 50% of my CPU back, and not see a single blue screen of death so far.

    Excellent. Would recommend it.

    As for Vista – what – install someone elses DRM on MY computer so I cant watch MY purchased media ? I think not.

    —-* Bill
    http://www.billbuchan.com

  35. Yes, every MS employee should read that book, and understand just how clunky MS code is.

    Media player on Pocket PC ? Yeuch. I now have an iPod. Compare and contrast.

    Floating property windows on OpenOffice write, as opposed to “dialog box death” in world.

    Lovely. Cant wait till Tiger hits intel…

    I “just said no” to MS four weeks ago, when I threw away XP and got Fedora Core 4, open office, skype, etc.

    And would you believe, the only two apps that I *had* to reinstall an XP partition under VMWare were ?

    iTunes and Lotus Notes.

    Amazing. Still, we get a new Lotus Notes workplace component – native for Linux – soon… And gtkpod will suffice for the moment.

    Still. Its a small price to pay to get 50% of my CPU back, and not see a single blue screen of death so far.

    Excellent. Would recommend it.

    As for Vista – what – install someone elses DRM on MY computer so I cant watch MY purchased media ? I think not.

    —-* Bill
    http://www.billbuchan.com

  36. Well, I said “no” to Microsoft several years ago and have no regrets, other than the fact that it is difficult to convince my entrenched friends to give it a try. They continue to cry on my shoulder about all the problems they are having but won’t consider the alternatives that I suggest. I feel like the doctor who tells a patient they need to lose weight only to find them getting fatter and fatter with every visit. At some point you start to hope that some new virus (like this recent one) will cause them such problems that they will be FORCED to start over, but somehow I fear that will never happen.

    Instead Microsoft will continue to follow the “good enough” curve of what a fairly dumb user-base is willing to put up with and do nothing more. I don’t think I have laid hands on a Windows computer in two years and I don’t miss it a bit. Before that I got a special exemption to run Linux on my desktop at work but I still had to administer a lab full of Windows machines. That was all the exposure I needed.

    Here is a funny article on “Switching to Windows” and while it takes some poetic license, there is a lot of truth to it. My switch from OS/2 to Windows for the few years where I had no choice was quite a bit like this:

    http://www.madpenguin.org/cms/?m=show&id=5937

  37. Well, I said “no” to Microsoft several years ago and have no regrets, other than the fact that it is difficult to convince my entrenched friends to give it a try. They continue to cry on my shoulder about all the problems they are having but won’t consider the alternatives that I suggest. I feel like the doctor who tells a patient they need to lose weight only to find them getting fatter and fatter with every visit. At some point you start to hope that some new virus (like this recent one) will cause them such problems that they will be FORCED to start over, but somehow I fear that will never happen.

    Instead Microsoft will continue to follow the “good enough” curve of what a fairly dumb user-base is willing to put up with and do nothing more. I don’t think I have laid hands on a Windows computer in two years and I don’t miss it a bit. Before that I got a special exemption to run Linux on my desktop at work but I still had to administer a lab full of Windows machines. That was all the exposure I needed.

    Here is a funny article on “Switching to Windows” and while it takes some poetic license, there is a lot of truth to it. My switch from OS/2 to Windows for the few years where I had no choice was quite a bit like this:

    http://www.madpenguin.org/cms/?m=show&id=5937

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