One of the reasons posting has been so slow over the past several months has been my laptop computer from which I've always done the vast majority of my blogging. It was a 10-year old Dell with Windows XP. But for the last year or so it has had a miserable time getting on the web. When I wrote my latest column for Independent Voter Network, it took me literally two days to write it simply because my old laptop kept locking up on me when I tried to get a news article to reference. I could still use it for court, but barely. Even Microsoft Office was starting to have issues with it.
So, this week I was finally able to get a new laptop. It's an ASUS Transformer T300LA. Not a perfect design, but it is a very good design, and it can switch between laptop an tablet when I need it. Quite happy with the computer itself so far.
What I am not happy with is Microsoft. Because I do so much word processing and share so many files with clients and publishers, I had to get Windows and Office. I was thus forced to get Windows 8. After using it for about a half hour, I decided that if there are computers in Hell, they use Windows 8. This operating system is nothing short of an abomination, an insult to Microsoft customers. It's almost as if Microsoft took all the comments made by Windows users and decided to do the exact opposite. It is not user-friendly. It is not intuitive. Most of the time you can't even tell what you're doing on it or what processes are working in the background, because the user interface won't tell you. I "upgraded" to Windows 8.1, but it is only marginally better.
Then there is Microsoft Office 2013. It's not bad per se. The format is different, but I'm normally able to adjust to it and I've had little trouble doing so now. In fairness, though, I've had Office 2013 for a year now on my main computer, so I'm kinda used to it.
However, there are some major, major annoyances with Office 2013. For one thing, when you try to save a document, it defaults to the "SkyDrive," which Microsoft recently renamed the "OneDrive." It's Microsoft's Cloud-based application, for which they plan to charge at a later date, I'm sure. Except, most people want to save their documents to their computer or its LAN and not to the Cloud. At the Solo and Small Firm Conference last summer, we had a CLE session that said lawyers had to be very careful about saving anything to the Cloud, because it could compromise client confidentiality. But Microsoft wants to push the damn SkyDrive. And so your save location defaults to the SkyDrive. Now, you can change the default location, but Word will still try to ram the SkyDrive down your throat with its big icon compared to your small default save location icon.
A far, far worse problem is the color. In older versions of Windows you could change the color scheme. I've never liked having a white screen, as my eyes are very sensitive and a white screen all day tends to be very hard on them. So, I'd change the screen to light blue, light green, pink, gray, light purple, or something like that. In Office, you used to be able to change the color, at the very least use the colors to which you set Windows to run. In Office 2013, you cannot. You are allowed to change the color of the borders from white to light gray or dark gray. Crayola won't be running in fear of that kind of palette. It's not an issue on my main computer because it has Windows 7, on which you can change the colors. You can use the Windows 7 colors to override the Office 2013 colors. Not Windows 8. Windows 8 has nothing in the way of color options for applications, so the only color choice you have for Office 2013 is blazing white. I have checked out the tech forums and message boards, where, it is safe to say, the users have been outraged by this change in Office. But, well, Office 2013 has been out for more than a year, as has Windows 8, and so far Microsoft has made no effort to allow color changes in Office.
This is what I was talking about earlier when I said the free market had failed with Microsoft. Microsoft is almost at the point where it hears what its customers want -- and proceeds to do the exact opposite. Because, hey, it's Microsoft! Who are these mere mortal customers to tell it what it should do?
At least, that was Steve Ballmer's attitude when he decided to create Windows 8 to leverage Microsoft's dominance in computer operating systems to dominance in tablets and smart phones. Consumers have revolted against Windows 8 and driven Ballmer from the top spot at Microsoft. Hopefully, the new management will be more responsive to the needs of consumers.
But when they refuse to do something as simple as allow the customer to change the color of the program, when they had allowed the customer to do so before, it is not encouraging as to the future of this once-great company.
In any event, with a new, more capable laptop, I should be able to blog much more often now.