see and hear lots of Microsoft bashing in my line of work (IT and software). Like any successful company, some people will always love them and some people will always hate them. That’s just the way it is.
I’ve had my share of frustrating experiences with Microsoft products, but I want to take a moment to share a couple of recent product experiences that are scoring points with me.
Microsoft Anti-Spyware Beta
I’m running Microsoft’s Anti-Spyware Beta, and have been doing so for about two months now. After trying out a number of other anti-spyware products, I find that Microsoft’s product provides better detection and cleaning capabilities, operates in a less obtrusive manner, and generally offers me a better user experience. I've tried running others after scanning my system with Microsoft's product and haven't found any nasties that've been missed by this Beta.
Microsoft also provides a number of useful accessories for cleaning up cookies, browser caches, and erasing browsing history.
This product came from Microsoft’s acquisition of a solid company called (ironically) Giant Software Company, and I’m very impressed with the direction they’re taking. This one’s a keeper – and it’s free. [Note - I hope Microsoft is incorporating Giant's anti-spam technology into upcoming Outlook releases - Giant was very good when they were standalone.]
Microsoft Internet Explorer version 7 Beta
Judging from my hosting company's stats on which browsers hit this blog, if you're reading this you’re probably not using Internet Explorer (the vast majority of the browser hits to my site show up as Firefox or Mozilla).
I have been using Firefox and Maxthon as my browsers of choice (I regularly use several sites that are a pain in the butt to use on Firefox).
As part of my subscription to the Microsoft’s Developer Network, I decided to try their beta of Internet Explorer v7, and I’m pleasantly surprised. They’ve added some good security features (on top of those already layered in with Windows XP Service Pack 2), and a number of other useful features.
The ones of most interest to me are:
- Tabbed browsing
- RSS support
- Anti-phishing features that help expose bogus sites trying to scam me
OK, so Firefox has had tabbed browsing and RSS support for a while – please don’t kick me about that, as I have been a Firefox user for a while. But I think Microsoft’s done a great job of implementing both of these features in version 7, and I’m starting to use their browser more and more often - even after my brief exposure to this new Beta version.
Why on Earth, you may ask, would I use this vilified company’s vilified browser? Aside from the fact that I don't have some emotionally charged vendetta against them:
- Some of the sites I need to use don't work right in Firefox (don't blame me - I didn't build them, but I need to use them). It’s easier for me to use one browser for everything than it is to remember which sites work with Firefox and which ones don’t;
- My reasons for not using IE are going away (I used Maxthon and Firefox because they supported tabbed browsing and RSS);
- IE feels faster and “snappier” than Firefox based on some informal tests I’ve done
And this is just Beta 1 - I will continue to use this to see what's in store as they move to a final release.
These two Microsoft products are doing me right these days – especially when used together (the Anti-Spyware product guards against browser hijacking, and can roll back IE settings if they are tampered with for example).
When it comes to technology, I’m not looking for a religious battle – I just want something that works well, helps me get things done, and does it at a reasonable cost. These tools hit the mark for me (and they’re free).
Oh, and just so you know, I am not – and never have never been – employed by Microsoft.