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A Microsoft-Centric World

Back in the 1970s when many of us were struggling to free ourselves from mainframes, the mantra in the computing world was "Nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM." No doubt Bill Gates was inspired by this to build his own empire. Today, people unblushingly swap "IBM" for "Microsoft" in that mantra.

Since converting back to the Macintosh I've been learning a lot about Microsoft-centric software. Several programs that ran on both systems have essentially withered, especially since the conversion to OS X. I'm most directly affected by Microsoft-centric teams at Intuit and at Adobe.

When Intuit acquired Macintax/Turbotax, they bought one of the more successful cross-platform teams in the consumer software business. I've used the software seamlessly on both the PC and Mac, and the files seem to move back in forth pretty smoothly. The only significant difference I've seen from the Intuit purchase was the name change: they dropped the Macintax name and call all products Turbotax.

This seems to be an Intuit anomaly, though. If you go to the Quicken product line, you find a dramatic division between the PC and Mac products. Most PC products are apparently highly engineered to be PC only; there seems to be a separate, and poorly funded, development group for the Mac. I'll skip further comparisons and just cite my other posting about Quicken on the Mac.

Another spot where Intuit has surrendered to the Microsoft onslaught is in their on-line payroll system. It seems to be constructed from ActiveX controls, so it only runs on Internet Explorer.

Adobe essentially made its reputation on the Macintosh back in the 1990s. Like Turbotax, these guys clearly have some teams that have slain the cross-platform dragon. Unfortunately, something rotten happened when this moved over to their Framemaker product. When the Mac went to OS X, Framemaker on the Mac essentially died as a product. This is particularly ironic since Frame started as a Mac product.

I have written two books using Frame on the Mac, and I can confidently say that there's nothing out there in GUI based document software that compares. I can do similar things with TeX variants on Unix-like systems (including the Mac) but that involves a re-learning curve and a dramatically different way of thinking about writing.

Adobe has been unapologetic and firm: if you want Framemaker, you go Microsoft. So I use BootCamp.

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