Reluctantly: Goodbye, Microsoft

Dear Microsoft,

First I want you to know that I’ve appreciated your software for the past 15 years. When I left Apple in 1994, I surprised myself by preferring Windows 95 over Mac System 7.x. Windows seemed faster, had better network support, ran a larger variety of third-party software packages, and (importantly for the small company I ran), was overall cheaper to use, since Macintoshes were quite a bit more expensive than PCs back then.

Fast-forward to today: the past two years have been a sinkhole of struggles with your software. I like to multi-task when I’m working, as do many others. I estimate I’ve spent 15-20% of my waking hours waiting for Microsoft software to do something simple.

The prime example is Vista. Slow, slow, slow. I had to beg Dell to sell me an XP driver CD. At first they said it wasn’t available. When I repeated my request six months later, Dell overnighted the drivers to me – no charge. Tell you anything?

But the intolerable offender is Office 2007. 90% of my wait time is caused by the application I spend 70% of my time using. Outlook not only slows or freezes when it checks for new mail and/or sends mail – it hogs the bandwidth of my laptop and slows or freezes every other application I’m running. (And please don’t refer me to the dozens of speed-up tips – I’ve tried them all.)

The nail in the coffin, though, is that I’ve lost trust in you. Software-development wise, you seem to have become too big in ambition and size to quickly craft tight, efficient code. The patched version of Vista, dressed-up with a new name (Windows 7), is promised no earlier than 2010 – three years after Vista’s release. Huh?

Another reason you’ve lost my trust: honest programmers seem to have devolved into spin artists. I haven’t heard a single acknowledgment that Vista or Outlook were shipped before they were fully tested – or that Outlook still has flaws that make it close to unusable.

So reluctantly, Microsoft: goodbye. I still believe you deserve your hard-earned success. I have great admiration and respect for the individuals who fueled that success, several of whom are good friends. But I’m getting older, and life’s too short to squander precious minutes.

Good luck, really,