Mailbag: May 9, 2010

This week in the mailbag:

The Great Copy and Paste Controversy
What Is The Office 2010 Version Number?
Adding Yahoo! Messenger Contacts to Windows Live Messenger
Apple Ideology
More Options for Free Panoramic Photos
Internet Explorer 9 Not for Windows XP

Have a question? I can't guarantee an answer, but I'll try. Drop me a note! (And let me know if you'd prefer not to have your name published.)

The Great Copy and Paste Controversy

This past week, after experiencing a weird (and possibly imaginary) copy and paste issue in Windows 7 for the upteenth time and mentioning it on the Windows Weekly podcast, I received roughly 100 emails from listeners who had had the same issue. So I blogged about it. And sure enough... I've gotten even more email about this, virtually all of it from people who have been experiencing the same thing.

I want to be very clear about this. I'm not sure exactly what's going on here. And I'm not even sure it's Windows' fault per se, assuming it's not just human error. But given the wide range of supporting feedback I've gotten, and my own personal experiences, it's pretty clear that something is going on.

Happily, Microsoft is interested in figuring this out as well.

So I'm going to pay attention here and see if I can duplicate it or at least figure out when/where it happens. I'll have more info about this if/when I can isolate the problem. Assuming there is one, of course.

Look! It's Sasquatch!

What Is The Office 2010 Version Number?

Christopher M. asks:

What is the final RTM build number of Office 2010?

According to both Word and Outlook, the version number is 14.0.4760.1000.


Adding Yahoo! Messenger Contacts to Windows Live Messenger

Nikki M. asks:

Can you tell me how I can connect with my old Yahoo Messenger contacts via the Windows Live Messenger?

You have to add them one by one, unfortunately. In Windows Live Messenger, click the little Add button to the right of the "search contacts" box and select Add contact. Then, enter the address of the first Yahoo Messenger contact in "Instant messaging address" and click Next, add a personal message if you want, and then click Send Invitation.

Apple Ideology

So, I get that I'm a Windows guy. But with regards to my writing here and elsewhere, I think of myself more as a technology enthusiast who speaks to the mainstream market. This is, of course, the market that runs Windows, and overwhelmingly so: Over 96 percent of people who purchased computers in the past year worldwide purchased Windows-based computers, and in the US it was 93 percent, according to NPD. But I'm not exclusively Microsoft-focused, and in cases where other companies' technologies take off--be it Apple or whatever--I also write about that. It's an inconvenient truth for Apple fanatics, however, that most users of Apple products are, in fact, Windows users as well. This is overwhelmingly true for iPhone and iPod users, and probably is (or will be) the case for iPad users too. Oddly enough, most Mac owners run Windows as well, and guess what most users of Google web services use? Yep, Windows. It's a Windows world, folks. Deal with it.

With this in mind, last week's Form Over Function mail generated a lot of interesting responses from readers, and some addressed the basic disconnect between my logical examinations of Apple's products and the ways that Apple fanatics (and even many regular users) view Apple and, thus, themselves as well. This note from Peter H. is particularly interesting:

Reading "Form Over Function," it occurred to me that Apple in many ways has evolved beyond a company into an ideology. Some definitions that may frame what I am saying are available here. I also like some aspects of the Wikipedia article on ideology. And it further occurs to me that those adherents in the Apple camp that are illogical and vocal may actually developing opinions based on meta-ideology:

"Meta-ideology posits that ideology is a coherent system of ideas, relying upon a few basic assumptions about reality that may or may not have any factual basis, but are subjective choices that serve as the seed around which further thought grows. According to this perspective, ideologies are neither right nor wrong, but only a relativistic intellectual strategy for categorizing the world. The pluses and minuses of ideology range from the vigor and fervor of true believers to ideological infallibility. Excessive need for certitude (conviction, sureness, assurance, confidence, belief or faith) lurks at fundamentalist levels in politics and religions."

The form over function problem seems to govern some people who don?t think very deeply and when comment on it, it is almost perceived by the Apple camp as attacking their minority religion and like all good zealots, they just attack you for it. Even though common sense should prevail it doesn?t because some of these people follow more the ideology of Apple but it is not based in any philosophical common-sense foundations.

Former US President Bill Clinton said, "The problem with ideology is if you got an ideology, you already got your mind made up, you know all the answers, and that makes evidence irrelevant and argument a waste of time, so you tend to govern by assertion and attack. The problem with that is that discourages thinking and gives you bad results."

Apple have a (charismatic) leader in Steve Jobs who knows how to inspire them and who is good at saying everything Apple is good and belittles the PC world by preaching the value of having something that is pretty and simple ? which is what their hardware is. Oprah Winfrey also uses a similar model and her empire has become a product. You are right on the money when you say that it is about marketing and making devices that consume their products and services.

So with all this, I wonder if you can indeed every get through to these Apple-ites and their cultish ways.

Many aspects of this ring true to me. I think the reason I'll never "get" Apple--from the perspective of its most stringent adherents--is that I just refuse to give in and accept everything the company says and does as truth. Oddly enough, I'm a big user of Apple products, and have often noted that I probably buy and use more Apple equipment than many of my critics. But I don't buy into the Apple religion--in fact, I find the company uniquely hateful sometimes--and from a product perspective, I don't get the appeal of, say, Mac OS X at all, though I do get the appeal of Mac hardware. (And unlike some bored tech bloggers/reporters, I don't need to test-drive a Mac for a few weeks to write about something new; I've had a number of Macs since before Mac OS X even shipped.) Years of experience on both the PC and Mac sides guides my opinions, and what I write, and is, I think, at the heart of the fundamental disconnect between my take on the iPad and that of other reviewers. I'm either hopelessly clueless or less easily affected by outside influences, depending on your point of view. Fair enough.

More Options for Free Panoramic Photos

This week, I wrote about a cool feature in Microsoft's free Windows Live Photo Gallery that lets you stitch different pictures together to form a single, widescreen panoramic image. But a few readers had some other advice about this functionality. Allen M. notes that Photo Gallery isn't limited to just a row of shots:

Just read your article about the photostitch. I agree ? pretty cool tool. Last year about this time I took my daughter to NYC for her summer internship. We stayed in a hotel overlooking ground zero. I took a picture from the hotel window and then realized one frame could not do justice to the enormity of the site. I then took a 4 by 5 grid of shots and when I got home I stitched the 20 frames together using the Microsoft tool. You can see it here.

Ryan K., suggests a different tool altogether:

While I think Windows Live Photo Gallery is a great option, I feel that Microsoft Image Composite Editor does a much better job. Not only does it do horizontal images but vertical and with just blobs of images. So you can take like 100+ images of one huge panoramic scene and it will stitch them all together. It's multicore ready also. I've used it quite a bit.

Thanks guys!

Internet Explorer 9 Not for Windows XP

A number of readers pointed out recent reports about Microsoft not supporting Windows XP in its upcoming Internet Explorer 9 web browser. Is this a conspiracy to "force" users to finally upgrade off the popular but aging XP? Jason H. sums up the question nicely:

Is it true?

It's true that IE 9 will work only with Windowws Vista and Windows 7, yes, but that's not new information. But it's not true that Microsoft is doing this to strand XP users or force them to upgrade. They're doing it because the hardware acceleration features in IE 9 require platform technologies that are only available in Windows Vista and 7.

As the article linked above notes, however, "Opera and Mozilla [and Google] are also hardware-accelerating their browsers, and all of [them] are doing it on XP [too]." I guess we'll see. But they will all need to create their own hardware acceleration codebases for each OS they support, and that's quite an engineering effort. I wish them luck.

By the way, it's also highly likely that the Windows Live Wave 4 applications will be Windows Vista- and 7-specific as well. Tune your tin hats!

More next week...