Don’t depend on auto-saving in applications

It is unfortunate that too many people trust and believe in Microsoft ability to have usable features. Almost every week I get someone who said they lost a document and when I start asking questions they thought that Microsoft’s auto-saving would protect them. Unfortunately this doesn’t work for a variety of reasons in the business world or even in the personal one.

It is always surprising to me when people don’t save their work. If you grew up in the time of programs that could fail at a moments notice, you learned how shaky software is. Software is still pretty unreliable on both the Mac and Windows platforms. Too often programs use more memory than the computer has, and then of course it crashes. I see crashed programs all the time when I help people. Even when they have lots of ram, people don’t reboot their machines every week. They think that they can just use things and not restart them even though they have been instructed to restart.

It’s a cliché for computer people to say restart the machine, but it’s because we see that most issues are memory related. There isn’t a good way around this. In the past there were memory managers, and they were more trouble then they were worth. I tried many of them and none of them made things better. For me, I reboot my phone and computer once a week and I don’t seem to have memory issues. It doesn’t take long to turn them both off and on and I’d rather spend the time doing that then having to restart a program or be stressed if I have a deadline.

It is curious isn’t it? People take their cars to get a regular oil change and they don’t complain about that. They wash their clothes when they get dirty. Why is it so hard to reboot a computer and phone? Yes its boring, but what isn’t boring is not feeling stressed when you lose your work or have a deadline. To me, when people don’t take care of things by choice, then problems are expected. Everything requires maintenance.

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Microsoft’s ios app Outlook goes crazy

It is unfortunate but Microsoft’s iOS app Outlook goes crazy. I had been using it for about a year with almost no issues, and a few days ago I woke up and my two email accounts didn’t work. They hadn’t changed, but the exchange and imap account I had both wouldn’t get email. It said there was “no connection” in the app. So I started to troubleshoot this problem.

Microsoft's ios app Outlook goes crazyThe app hadn’t recently updated, and my email information had not changed. I was not locked out of my account, and it had a strong wireless signal. In short, there was no reason why it should have acted as it did. So I did the only thing I could do. I deleted my accounts and tried to set them up again. They would not authenticate, even though the email accounts are valid. So I switched back to the iOS native email application. Too bad, I liked the fact that Microsoft seemed to have a better interface for email.

This has been my experience with Microsoft all along. At first things are great and work great. Then slowly, you get situations that seem to have no cause and just frustrate you. I have used Microsoft products for a long time, and the only thing that was solid was DOS. The more complicated Microsoft became, the more you had to handle situations that other software companies saved you from.

This isn’t an anti-Microsoft rant. I have benefited greatly as an IT person from people choosing Microsoft. Apple isn’t perfect either, so nothing is perfect and without flaws. However and this is what I find curious, when people have an Apple experience they tend to have a 90% satisfaction rating. I don’t think this is because Apple is so much better than Windows, but mostly because it doesn’t have the weird errors that you get with Windows.

Here is an example. I have some Logitech 390 headphones. They are plug and play which means that Microsoft should automatically install them when they are plugged in. That is not the case. When you have a laptop connected to a docking station and plug-in these headphones, they fail to plug and play. It should not matter if a laptop is plugged into a docking station. Plug and play should always work. So to get these headphones to work I had to delete their profile in the device manager, and plug them into the docking usb port. The average computer user expects a plug and play device to just plug and play into any usb port.

I could give many more examples, but my experience with these headphones on an Apple computer is that you plug them in and they work. This is the typical experience with using a Mac. You don’t have to install drivers, you just tend to plug things in and they work. That is plug and play. There is no reason that after a decade any Windows users should have this experience. Most people just want basic devices to work. So enable basic functionality, and if people want to do complicated stuff, then download a separate app if you need to.

So I keep trying Microsoft programs and hope they will be reliable. Is that crazy?

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