The Not So Happy Face of Microsoft

January 9, 2007

Over the course of the next 72 hours or so, the world of digital entertainment will change somewhat. This started last night with the keynote of CES being done by Bill Gates. He introduced a bunch of new stuff from Microsoft, which I will get to in a moment. The other big news comes from Steve Jobs doing the keynote to Macworld tomorrow morning. Rumors continue to swirl before the event, however one device that will be featured is the iTV (or whatever they call it after tomorrow). I will comment more about the Apple stuff after the keynote tomorrow, so for now I will tackle the Microsoft announcements.

The biggest release that I can see is the Windows Home Server. It appears to be a standalone device that allows for sharing of content between different computers and backups of the data as well. This sounds like a wonderful device, however I have some skepticism about the ease of use knowing how difficult it is to network two Windows machines on a home network. That being said, the most troubling thing that I took from the announcement is the following quote from Gates, “It’s plug and play?Äîthe software automatically sees the new storage and moves the data around.” No offense, but I don’t want my data just moving around wherever. I know this probably isn’t the case, but if there is any sort of “data movement” without the user’s knowledge, how can that be a good thing? I typically put my data where I want it, not where the computer wants it to be. There is one major exception to this, and it shows some of the differences I see between Microsoft and Apple.

Apple does move some of my data around for me. iTunes is the offending program that moves stuff around without me asking. I will admit that I was a bit of a neat freak with Winamp about keeping my music directories clean. Then when iTunes came out and made everything fit it’s lifestyle, I got pretty upset. I balked at first, then settled down to realize it wasn’t a big deal and now I like that I don’t have to think about folder structure for my music. But the bottom line is that Apple never really told anyone about this until after installation and iTunes did it’s thing. Some people still don’t use iTunes to this day because they are mad at Apple for this. I actually think that Apple is smart for doing this. Apple saw this as something that might peev some people, but did it anyways, knowing that the end product is going to make more people happy than piss them off. Now Microsoft comes out and tells me that it is going to start moving my data around. By telling me upfront this, I am not going to buy it initially. Sure it might make things easier in the future, but I am apprehensive about letting other devices move my data, just as I was with iTunes after I found out. With iTunes it would have taken a lot of work to go back, so I left it and tried out Apple’s way. With Microsoft, I have the knowledge ahead that my data will be moved, and so I won’t get the device. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, and if Microsoft had said nothing about moving data around, I would have been much more inclined to look at that server.