Originally Posted by rbryanh
Forgive me, but today's software reviews resemble nothing so much as précis of press releases. Writers now seem to automatically accept the product on its on terms, making significant criticism unlikely. Imagine architectural criticism where the writer focused on the fountain in the lobby, barely mentioning the site of the building, its relation to the surrounding landscape, or available of transportation.
To me, the most important aspect of any application is how well it integrates with the OS and other applications I'm already using. Microsoft and Adobe are notorious for arrogant ghetto thinking, fixing what isn't broken and inventing their own, tediously special, product-centric ways to accomplish common tasks. Both companies try to gain market share by domination rather than cooperation, and using the products of either entails and endless series of unnecessary "my way or the high way" compromises.
For example, OS X offers a common interface for accessing fonts. It allows the user to keep several thousand active all the time without clutter or confusion. Both MS and Adobe products fail to implement this, instead supplying a useless, monolithic menu from the Dawn of GUI. Ditto color pickers, spelling dictionaries, toolbar customization, and a host of similar issues. What's most important about such features is their consistency. Even if a new approach is demonstrably superior, it has to be enormously so to justify departing from a standard.
More generally, neither MS nor Adobe every met a feature they could resist, and the resultant interface is always reminiscent of some nouveau riche Long Island party girl in clown makeup who, unable to pick a coherent outfit, just wore everything in the closet 'cause Daddy said it's good marketing. The resulting user experience is like cooking in a kitchen where the refrigerator is 100 meters from the stove, with the intervening space occupied by an obstacle course of winking, blinking, chirping children's toys.
Adding a new app to one's virtual environment is like adopting a new family member. But the analogy fails in that adopting an autistic child would be a supreme act of selfless charity, but acquiring apps that can't communicate, integrate, and blend well with the whole is merely stupid.
I agree with all of this. I have noticed that when the web first started to gain momentum, there was such a sense of accomplishment among people when they put a site on the web that they threw in lots of bells and whistles JUST TO SHOW THE WORLD THAT THEY COULD.
It seems to me that MS is still stuck in a mindset of adding everything that they possibly can, while Apple has taken the distinctly opposite approach of removing everything that isn't absolutely necessary.
Considering the fact that 99% of computer users don't know enough to exploit more than 15-20% of what their computers are capable of (my opinion), it seems to me that Apple is taking the right approach.
Anyhoo...Here is my attempt to create a clean menu bar for Word 2008. It is tolerable for me, and probably enough to keep me from upgrading if I can't create something similar in the new version.http://www.joshpix.com/public/WordBar.png