So Stuart Bruce has swallowed the Microsoft pill then, eh? Well, if anything, I am the Yang to his Ying. I’m finding myself less and less drawn to Microsoft products – and more drawn to web-based and standards-based alternatives, which make the underlying operating system and its software much less important.
I too own a T-Mobile MDA Pro, but even after a year, I can’t decide if I like it or not. It’s great as a mini-laptop, but ridiculous as a phone. The Windows Mobile operating system needs a regular reboot, maybe daily. Microsoft is consciously removing functionality from its otherwise impressive Active Sync software. I feel tied to Outlook (2002) whether I want it or not – and to be honest, I don’t. The twisting screen has never felt entirely robust, and the stylus no longer stays in its hole. In all likelihood, when my current contract is up, I’ll probably look for something new. Maybe a newer, better device running Windows Mobile; maybe something else.
I’m sticking with Firefox, not specifically because it’s a better browser – but because of its extensions. I can set Firefox up to work exactly how I want it, with a more than ample supply of free plugins. The Web Developer toolbar is almost reason enough in itself. (Oh, and I’m using the Deepest Sender extension to write this.)
Gmail is my primary, secondary and tertiary email service of choice. The ‘no folders’ approach is nothing short of revolutionary, but you don’t realise that until you’ve used it for a while. POP access is free, disk space is outrageously generous, and ’email from your domain’ is free too. That’s before you get on to the clever things you can do with your addresses, etc etc etc. No contest.
And yes, I’m sticking happily with OpenOffice. It does everything I need it to do. Why pay more?
My next IT hardware purchase is likely to be a MiniMac, some time after Christmas. I was expecting to shell out for a Vista-based system, but frankly, there’s nothing in it to inspire me. Apple’s copybook has been blotted lately, with issues in iTunes v7, laptops shutting down at random, and so on. But the synchronicity of a Mac running the new Leopard version of OS X, plus an iPod, plus the rumoured iPhone, all using (predominantly) web-based applications, is more than appealing.