Wednesday, June 18, 2008

SOFTWARE: How Ruuuude!

Which one of the Tanner kids used to say, 'How Ruuuuuude!?" Stephanie? It doesn't matter. People are stretching the boundaries of rudeness every day. And I'm sick and tired of it. I am talking about companies who send data files to other companies, expecting them to have the software needed to decipher and use it. That is just so rude!

Microsoft has made a billion or two (bordering on a trillion), by changing the data file formats for each iteration of its Microsoft Office suite. I remember that the first releases of Office 97 couldn't READ files from Office 95 file format, because the intermediary format was supposed to be RTF. Rather than writing a new RTF, the person or persons responsible just renamed a .DOC file to .RTF ... and hoped nobody would notice. It took something less than a billionth of a second for the first person to start hollering.

Still, Microsoft stuck to its guns by changing the format each release, even if it inconvenienced the very people buying the product. By making changes, it hoped to FORCE people to keep up with the Jones ... or at least the people they were doing business with. The mafia version of this is called the protection racket.

Microsoft's agents of change are now complaining about having to provide documents to one of my clients. Taking the seconds to choose SAVE AS, changing the file format and then saving the file, normally a five-second process, is too arduous for these folks. They'd rather my client spend thousands of dollars on updating Office product AND pay the time and money it takes to train people on the completely new interface that graces Office 2007. That's the co-operative spirit that leads to better product and better profit for both companies! Wish I owned the company. I'd be talking to their bosses and asking them why they employ such lazy sods who seem compelled to tick off a supplier for want of getting to the coffee truck five seconds quicker.

The FIRST thing I ask somebody who I'm sending a data file to, is how they want it? Does that strike you as something too tough to do? Will it save confusion and re-doing the transfer? Of course it will. Does it take me more than a minute to implement ... EVER? No.

The MS Office 2007 issue is not without possible solutions that don't involve lots of money. My preferred solution is switching to Free and thumbing your nose at Microsoft, what's wrong with that? Microsoft itself has a pack to convert files to more popular earlier formats. If you head off to this site, you can download the FileFormatConverters.exe. It converts with declining degrees of success the further number of versions back you go.

Or you can give into the blackmail started by Microsoft and foisted on you by 'your customer.' Go ahead, upgrade just to deal with the rude company or two. It'll only cost money, time and confusion. In the meantime, that twit at the other company will get his or her soda and chips from the coffee truck first instead of second.

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