Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Microsoft's Way

As some of you may know, I am the owner of a Microsoft Windows Mobile based PDA phone device, otherwise known simply as a “smartphone”. Note I did not say I am the proud owner of this PDA, because it’s unreliable and never works the way it should. I have had a Palm PDA before the Windows Mobile one for over five years and I only had to reset it once; with my current PDA I have to reset it at least once a week.
Yesterday I had to perform one of these resets. The reason was mundane, as almost always is the case: an alert I got for an upcoming appointment kept on alerting me long after I have confirmed it can be dismissed. After all, what can one expect from a Microsoft based system?
The real problem came to be when my PDA decided that instead of a soft reset, the equivalent of a reboot, it wants to perform a hard reset – that is, wipe all of its memory out and bring it to the same condition it was when I turned it on for the first time ever. All the information I have there (contacts, tasks, appointments, etc) and all the applications I had installed (Skype, GPS, chess, etc) were gone with the wind.
Things are not that bad, though: I routinely back my PDA’s image into its own SD card, so after settling down from the immediate shock that followed the wipe out I started the image recovery process. Indeed, in half an hour my PDA was at the same state it was when I last backed it up some time during February.
Next, at home, I connected my PDA to my desktop in order to synchronize it with Outlook and have all the Outlook info (appointments, tasks and such) from the last two months copied over from my up to date desktop to my rejuvenated PDA. Wrong move!
Instead of updating the PDA with the latest information from the past two months, what actually occurred was that my PDA’s old info stepped over the info in Outlook. In effect, I lost two months worth of information.

What I’m trying to say here is simple. People often dismiss me for my anti Microsoft attitudes. They do it for many reasons, chief amongst them their own perceived lack of bad experience with Microsoft related problems and the view that we owe Microsoft a lot for all the stuff they’ve contributed to the world.
My view is different. I maintain that we all suffer because of Microsoft related blunders, such as the one I had yesterday when older data stepped over new data simply because of negligent design. I maintain that these problems happen all the time, but because we got so used to them and because most of us lack the capacity to imagine a better world we don’t open our minds to the fact the main reason for these problems being there in the first place is that there is no one out there to challenge Microsoft into delivering better products.
I am so looking forward to having open source based PDA’s on the market that actually have support and applications running on them. Where is the Ubuntu of PDA’s?

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