they’re not trying

Won’t you try just a little bit harder?
Couldn’t you try just a little bit more?

One of the things I love about Grateful Dead lyrics is that they so often speak to the mundane hours of my life. Tonight, I have come much closer to the firm belief that Microsoft isn’t trying anymore to do anything but rake in piles of money, and that we should all try to help them see alternative perspectives of existence.

For several years, I’ve been making websites using a MS product called Publisher. It’s a component of the MS Office productivity suite, along with Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. Publisher is designed for making websites, flyers, newsletters, etc. Desktop publishing, basically, as contrasted with word processing. It’s good, in the sense that a big Cadillac sedan is good. The problem is, the freeway isn’t running anymore, as you’ll see.  .

Recently, I used Publisher to create a website for a client. I uploaded it, checked it, and all appeared well. Then I got an email from my client, saying the site was messed up. I checked it with Firefox and Chrome browsers – all good – then Internet Explorer (IE). In IE, images were wrong. Some were misplaced, and none were really right.

Normally, when you right-click on an image with a browser, you can view the image separate from the background, and save it if you wish. In IE, it was as if the whole web page was one solid background, and the images on it weren’t images at all.

I rebuilt the website, uploaded fresh files, same result. I spent a long time on the phone with tech support for the web hosting company, and they were stumped too. I tried a lot of different things to fix it. Everything worked in Firefox and Chrome, but not IE. Then very late last night, I uploaded a plain text version of the site, so that visitors could use links to information and at least the website would basically work.

Today I rebuilt the website with an online template-based program provided by the web hosting company. The resulting site looks nice, professional I think, but it’s not the custom, hand-made effect that pleased my client in the first place. It looks made from a template, because it is.

Tonight I did some research into the problem. I was going on the assumption that there was a corruption in my Publisher software, and I was looking for a way to fix it. I know from experience that reinstalling MS Office doesn’t always work, because it doesn’t uninstall cleanly, and problems remain if they’re not repaired.

What I learned really surprised me. On a user forum hosted by Microsoft, I learned that many people have the same program, because – get this – the new version of Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE-8) is not compatible with websites made with Microsoft Publisher. Their web browser does not work with their web-authoring software. You need to use another company’s site builder, or another browser.

You know me, I’m going to suggest … both. Use Firefox or Chrome. They’re better anyway. And when I find something good – and not expensive – for making websites, I’ll let you know.

Incidentally, my own website – kylekimberlin.com – was built with Publisher too. It’s also wrong in IE. Everything looks OK, works OK, but if you know what to look for, you can see there are problems. I spent a lot of my evenings building that site.

With every passing week, I get sicker and more exhausted with closed-source, proprietary companies like Microsoft and their inept miscreations. Time and again, they rush their crap into shipment before it’s ready, and they design it in ways that make us dependent on continuing to pay for it, whether it works or not.

Nuts.  

I support the open source software movement. http://www.opensource.org/

 

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One thought on “they’re not trying

  1. i know exactly what you're talking about, and the problem reaches far beyond just MS Publisher. here at my work, the corporate image that as a developer, i develop web applications for, is IE6 and Firefox3 – even though IE6 is a crappy browser. its been this way for years. if what we build works in those, our QA team is happy. but in 2010 there's been a push to update that benchmark to IE8 and i can't tell you how many bugs are surfacing. mostly, it's inconsistent CSS support and no backwards compatibility. it's like we're back in the browser wars of 1999 all over again, only this time MS isn't battling Netscape, they're battling themselves! i don't get it either.

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