Two events in the last week have convinced me that the management of Microsoft does not believe that their company has a future. The management are, it seems, the sort of grey people who took over Apple, expelled Steve Jobs, and ran the company into the ground.
The first event took place at my PC in my workplace, where I was working on something delicate. Windows 10 popped up an announcement that it wanted to do an upgrade. I reset the schedule for a couple of hours hence and carried on. And then, in the middle of my work, suddenly it closed all my work and tried to reboot. Windows had ignored my request and just restarted. Obviously some petty upgrade was way more important than my work. But imagine that I was a broker, doing a deal for a hundred million dollars? Well, my deal could wait. As far as Microsoft was concerned, their update mattered more.
The second event took place in the evening, or rather over several evenings, in my hotel. While at work, I realised that I needed to write a small windows application. I’ve not written anything for windows in a long time, but I remember how to do it. A quick Visual Basic .Net application would be quite adequate.
So I went to the Microsoft site to get the tools, and found that … um … you can’t download Visual Basic .Net any more. You have to download some obese monster called “Visual Studio 2017 Community Edition”. Except you can’t download it. You can install it off the web; but you can’t keep the media locally. When you do install it, it demands to know which of a baffling array of options you want installed, nearly all of them irrelevant.
Bear in mind that I want to create a tiny Windows application – the environment that Microsoft control – and I want to do it in Basic, the language they control. Surely that is the beginners’ path? Why is it so hard?
Well I found my way through the menus and installed this THREE GIGABYTE (????) environment on my laptop. Then I tried to set to work. But … everything was hard. Despite a decade of experience with Microsoft tools, and knowing clearly what I wanted to do, I was quite unable to work out how to do it.
The last straw came when I wanted to embed two icons in the project. This should be trivial. It was not. You could, with difficulty, insert icons into your project. But you couldn’t edit them. The toolbars were greyed out. Much googling later, I discovered that this was just how it was; you had to create them as external files.
The only people who could possibly work with Visual Studio would be a large professional corporate software department. The individual tinkering at home is excluded. It requires immense effort just to create a trivial application. I remember VB6 – it was easy to do this. I remember the original VB.Net – harder, but still not that hard. But now … nobody new will develop for Microsoft. It’s just too hard.
It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that Microsoft is now run by people who do not use Windows seriously, and none of whom write software. Anybody who did either would not allow their products to get so out of shape.
But if Windows now is a relic, doomed to die – at least in the opinion of its owners – the rest of us still use it. We would like it to work, thank you.
And if it is now impossible to easily develop new software for Windows, as seems to be the case, this again reinforces the feeling that the owners of Microsoft do not care. They don’t believe that any real new software will be delivered. They don’t believe in the hobbyist at home.
It’s sad really. Whither the desktop computer?