My Return, and My Reaction to Microsoft Surface

First of all, let me apologise, to those of you who actually care, for my long absence. Like most writers of my age, I take on several projects simultaneously and as a result, sometimes the less important ones (this blog, which I started as a hobby to write and speculate on my guilty pleasure, technology) get pushed to the back burner in favour of ones more important. (My on-going contributions to Columbia’s much-needed reformation, and trying to help grow the Playwriting Programme at Columbia).

Either way, your friend Taylor is back, and what a time to be back, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Kings and Queens, and clergy alike, I present to you:

I know this is a website, but if it was a video presentation, ‘Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress)’ by the Hollies would be playing right about now.

The Microsoft Surface, for those of you living under a rock, is Microsoft’s personal challenge to Apple’s iPad and the numerous (and mostly shit) Android Tablets on the market. It is Microsoft’s gentle push to their own OEMs to build killer Windows 8 tablets that will take full advantage of the OS’s many innovations, and it is the reason my girlfriend already knows she won’t get her wish of me ‘revamping’ my winter wardrobe this year, no I won’t, for my money will be better spent on what will probably be the best digital friend a writer could have in his arsenal.

‘Well, I just feel fat now’.

None the less, there are some inherent risks attached to Microsoft producing hardware. Problem one, of course, is that outside of a few keyboards and mice, speakers and headsets, and of course the Zune and the Xbox, Microsoft hasn’t really produced any hardware, and certainly, never a full-fledged PC to rival their own hardware manufacturers. In other words, Microsoft has never been in direct competition with HP, Dell, Asus, Acer, and all the other people who make the computers that run their OS before. And quite frankly, that was smart. It was Microsoft’s advantage over Apple originally, after all, since HP and Dell didn’t just compete with Apple, they also competed with each other. The result? Two years ago, while living in a cheap studio in Chicago, I could by my HP TouchSmart tm2, with the same specs as its then $1,500 (which Apple rips-off its UK buyers with £1,500 pricing too, despite the exchange rate) Apple ‘MacBook Pro’ cousin for a mere $800. And that wasn’t from some shady second or third person site, no, that was from HP themselves. (And my TouchSmart has a touch screen, something that the MacBook Pro still lacks).

Of course, for Microsoft, this has also been a downside, as they have historically have had very little say over the quality of their OEM’s products. And while my HP TouchSmart tm2 has been fantastic, well, I think most people can remember the crap-tastic computers that Dell released, each generation of lowering quality from the late 1990’s through the early 2000’s. (Dell has turned it around, I’ll admit), or budget computers like NEC that brought shame to Microsoft’s OS.

So that brings us back to the Surface.

I’ll always come back to you, baby.

Now, I like HP, I really do. I am writing this on an HP, like I said, but that doesn’t change the fact that HP’s Windows tablets, well, they suck compared to even, say, Samsung’s Windows Tablet.

What a disappointment you’ve been. (My parents said that to me all the time, finally, I can say it to something else).

And quite frankly, before now there’s not been any standard for a Windows tablet. How many buttons will it have? Will it have a Windows button? Will it have volume buttons? Or rotation lock? What size will the screen be? What will its resolution be? Again, that’s where the Surface comes in.

Here’s a shot of it from behind, what a cute bum it’s got. See that kick stand that comes out? Finally, a tablet that does that.

Not just does the Surface issue a challenge to other tablet makers (‘See? Our smart cover doubles as a ultra-thin flexible keyboard, what’s yours do? Turn on and off the screen automatically? That’s… cool’.) but it establishes and showcases the strict standards that Microsoft is demanding from its OEMs in order to take on the iPad, and says, ‘See? Follow our standards, and you get the world excited’.

Here’s the Surface from the front again, looking sexy in blue.

The Surface marks the beginning of Windows 8 tablets. For an opening volley, it is extremely impressive, and yes, this is the first tech product I’ll be waiting to get right on release (my TouchSmart has been dropped too many times already, and its Hard drive is starting to make the infamous ‘death clicks’ associated with mechanical drives on their way out). So you’ll get to see me talk about it later, writing about it from it.

My Life With Windows 8, Entry Three: App Mania

Sorry it’s been a while, but it’s been Story Week at Columbia College Chicago, and I was busy with the many events and festivities there within. But that’s done, and it’s back to work, and this time work involves my third and final post about Windows 8. (Coming tomorrow: a post about Total War: Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai).

I don’t mean to brag, but Batman’s a fan.

Now, as I’ve said, once upon a time, Windows came with a lot of additional apps and gadgets designed to make the computer usable and loveable. For example, once upon a time, Windows came with Outlook!

But then, there was money to be made.

But as time went on, and a certain lawsuit came about that scared Microsoft away from bundling software with Windows, so then their hardware makers filled the void and began bundling all sorts of crap ware with their computers.

‘I have a great idea, let’s take our fast, good hardware, add a fast, stable Operating System, and then bury it under our cheaply-made shovelware and slow it the f*** down to differentiate ourselves from the other PC makers’. – PC Makers everywhere.

The abundance of trials, shovelware, and other bad software the PC manufacturers started putting on their computers prompted Microsoft to realise that the greatest enemy to a Windows renaissance were their own OEMs (the people who make the hardware, i.e. Dell, HP, Asus, Acer, Samsung, Sony, et al).

So Microsoft came up with two solutions: one get rid of all the software bundles and sell the computers themselves, computers that came only with Windows and ‘Windows Live Essentials’ (WLE is all the stuff they used to bundle with Windows, now available in a non-threatening free download) installed, with no additional bundles. And two, create an OS that had all the bundle stuff in it anyway, since Apple’s doing it now (just like Windows used to), and no one’s sued Apple over it yet. (And therefore, if Microsoft gets sued for it again, they can just argue that Apple does it, and really, what does government have to do with computers anyway)?

Windows 8 comes with everything, including Anti-Virus, bundled with it again. Just like the good old days.

And there was much rejoicing that day.

So how well do the apps work?

Well, most of the included Xbox functionality doesn’t yet. The Xbox half needs an update for that to come through. But once it does work (it’s going to work by sharing media, and perhaps even games, the media sharing being just like how the iPad/iPhone/iPod currently link up with the Apple TV, or iTV, or whatever they’re calling it these days works, no real concrete word yet on the games), it will probably come through like reindeer cheese.

‘What’?

That is to say, it’ll probably work very well indeed.

Also, this time, Xbox live itself in built into Windows. Not ‘Games for Windows Live’, but actual, tried and proven Xbox Live. Just like it’s built into Windows Phone 7 (and probably 8) and it is just as sweet.

Now my avatar can follow me everywhere I go! (And yes, this screenshot is from the Windows 8 Consumer Preview).

And, the bundled Calendar App is more visually appealing to me than Outlook’s Calendar ever was, and it does sync nicely with both my Windows Live account and my Google Mail account’s calendars. (It can also sync with Facebook events and birthdays, I turned that feature off).

The Windows Store, where you can get more Metro Apps, is also very nice. The nicest feature is that it works diligently to keep all your apps, both Microsoft and otherwise, up to date, much in the same way my Windows’ Phone’s App Store does, or my girlfriend’s iPhone’s app store does. (Or in the way Steam works to keep all your games updated, for you gamers out there).

It’s very shiny.

The Windows Start Screen joins the fray, with all the live tiles giving push updates and notifications, just like Android, iOS, and Windows Phone 7. Which is nice. The messenger app gives notifications of new messages from your Facebook chat, or MSN Chat (if anyone still uses that) in the same way my phone gives notifications of a new text. That is to say, in one corner of the screen, not blocking any of the action, no matter what app you’re in.

Music and Video replace Zune, as promised, and I must confess I’m not terribly impressed by either, since both lack a list view.

There they all are, my music friends…

Despite that the music app is very usable still, with an easy to understand UI, that I’m sure will improve with user input and time. (Patches are the reality of PC and Macs alike these days).

Mail is by and far the best of the included apps (minus the Anti-Virus app that behaves just the way I like it, invisible and in the background). Which behaves in the way a bundled mail app ought to. It works with the People app (which also works nicely with messaging) to create a unified address book. It supports multiple email accounts and brings both my Google Mail (which is the school email) and my Windows Live Hotmail accounts together into one nice, full screen, fully usable app.

Microsoft’s thin and usable bundled software is back to make your computer usable out of the box. And it is more than welcome!

My Life With Windows 8 Entry Two: The Desktop (Or, To Metro or not to Metro, that is the question).

I have been comparing all the new additions to Windows 8 to the new additions to versions of Windows past. Usually, I compare the new ‘Start Screen’ to the addition of the ‘Start Menu/Task bar’ in Windows 95. Today though, I am going to go even further back, all the way to Windows 2.0/3.0/3.1.

‘Muahahaha, I’m back’.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, Windows isn’t Microsoft’s first Operating System, in fact Window’s wasn’t even conceived to be an operating. Windows was originally just a graphical shell, or a nice outside of Microsoft’s first born, the Disc Operating System, or MS-DOS for short.

True geeks still now how to use this.

On my Dad’s computer, when I was a kid, I had to type ‘win’ at the ‘C:/Windows/>’ prompt to get Windows to even start. That’s right, Windows started out as just an ‘App’ in the old MS-DOS Operating System, and the only way to get Windows to start when you started the computer, without having to type ‘win’ in, was to add the command to MS-DOS’s ‘Autoexec.bat’ file. (My Dad’s an engineer, he made sure I knew my stuff). My Dad opted out of doing that for the longest time, as the majority of the programmes he used on the computer were for MS-DOS and would not play with the Windows interface. It would take Word for Windows 6.0 (and whatever its equivalent version of Excel for Windows was) before my Dad started favouring the Windows shell over the DOS command prompt, when Quicken for Windows came out, Dad never used the command prompt again.

I used the computer for games, and by the time I was buying games, they were all being written to play nice with the Windows shell anyway. So I never got too acquainted with DOS.

Well, the good news is DOS is dead. Windows XP would be the first version of Windows to kill off DOS entirely, but starting with Windows 95 DOS was getting thinner and thinner, in favour of powering the Windows shell, and by the time Windows 2000 came out, Windows was a stand-alone operating system. No DOS required. So what killed DOS?

The mouse. The mouse killed DOS.

And it will do it again if it has to.

You see, MS-DOS was not friendly to Mice. It liked keyboards. And I know a lot of people reading this may or may not remember, but once upon a time, the computer mouse was just a nice accessory for your computer. Not a necessity. The only necessary input device was the keyboard.

Then came XEROX Parc and the Graphical User Interface (GUI) revolution. Now the computer could display little icons, pictures, and windows on the screen and the user would ‘click’ on them with their mouse. Every computer company entered the field, and we ended up with IBM’s OS/2 OS, Apple’s Macintosh OS, and Microsoft Windows. (And Linux, for you weird ‘alternate’ users).

It’s like hipsterdom for normal computer geeks, and a haven for coders.

But not everyone wanted Windows at first. Not everyone wanted to buy a mouse. So Windows was sold as a nice ‘add-on’ to the already established and popular MS-DOS operating system.

The user friendliness of the mouse and the Windows shell ended up drawing in a lot more users and consumers than the MS-DOS prompt ever did, and so soon (by the time Windows 3.1 was going around) Windows became the main selling point, and MS-DOS was for the power-users who wanted the complete control over their computer that the Windows shell couldn’t give.

Well, the mouse has had its day, and now we’ve moved on to the touchscreen. And the problem is the two remaining GUI OSes, Windows and Macintosh, while they are mouse friendly, aren’t touchscreen friendly. So new touch based interfaces have had to be made. Apple introduced the all new iOS. The thing about iOS is that you need a whole new device to run it or its apps. Microsoft is trying to make the go between for Windows.

Enter: The Go-Between

A lot of people won’t like Metro. It’ll take a while to smooth Metro’s bumps out. It’ll be a while before everyone has a touch-screen on their computer. But the days of touch being more dominant than mice is coming. Metro serves as a nice shell on top of the normal Windows 8 desktop, which still resembles very closely the Windows 7 desktop with some major improvements.

Pictured: Improvement

It may no longer be the main focus as it once was, but the Windows 8 explorer (also known as all the windows with your folders and files in them) is turbo-charged compared to its Windows 7 days. It’s like Microsoft is ramping up the underlying desktop part of Windows to be like MS-DOS once was, the power-user’s haven. And for many, it’ll be the normal haven until Microsoft Office releases Metro-style Apps. In the mean time, the nice, tactile apps of Windows 8’s Metro will be a nice haven for Windows Tablet users and the users who use Windows mostly to get at the internet.

My Life With Windows 8 Entry One: Enter Metro…

I have mentioned in the past that the main driving force behind most of the changes and new features in Windows 8 is the introduction of the new touch-friendly Metro User Interface. As I’ve been cruising around the internet, I have found people who hate it, and people who love it. I personally have been using the Windows 8 Consumer Preview (read: beta) for about 48 hours now, and really the first 48 are a break in session for a man and his new OS.

So far, for the first 48 I do love the Metro interface. It’s fun to show off, and as I said yesterday, even my iPad loving girlfriend likes it. (Next step: show it to her iPad loving father and hear his verdict).

‘See? Isn’t it clean and useful? Please don’t hate me, ever’.

However, some people have brought up its learning curve. On of my favourite tech blogs, The Register, recently reviewed the Windows 8 Consumer Review and found that in the initial learning stages the metro interface can be a bit confusing, and in order to get the full impact of Metro, you really should have a touch screen at your disposal. As I said before, I am testing Windows 8 on my HP Touchsmart tm2, so I do have multi-touch on my Windows 8 machine, which as made a big difference, I’m not sure if it’s because Windows 8 knows I have a touch screen or because of its design, but there are certain elements of the Windows 8 interface that do not react to my mouse, only to my touch.

That said, I’ve been seeing across the web a lot of people bemoaning how much they hate the Metro interface because it’s too different. A reminder that, as I said a few entries ago, people hate change. A lot of people are happy with Windows 7 right now, and may not feel the urge to change so dramatically to the Windows 8 interface. But truthfully, I think that Metro is the brave new move that Windows needs.

Truth is, the current desktop/taskbar/start menu/explorer combination that Windows users are used to now has been around in some form since Windows 95 came out in 1995.

And when I say Windows 95 came out, I mean was released, I’m 80% certain that Windows 95 was not gay.

And, of course as I’ve mentioned previously, when the current combination was created, the loyal and happy users of Windows 3.1 complained left, right, and centre about the new ‘unusable’ interface, and how we should all just go back to the glory days of Windows 3.1.

The good old days of your computer crashing when it made the awkward transition to the old DOS programmes, or when you have too many windows open…

Truth is though, in order to move forward with technology you need to update occasionally. A large part of that is upgrading the interface, other wise, we’d all still be stuck with the C:/> prompt of MS-DOS, of which I’m sure there’s still some hold-outs who swear by it.

‘I grew up in this house, and by gum, I’ll die in this house’.

So here’s the truth: we are moving into the era of touch, just like Windows 2.0 and 3.0 signified the move into the era of mice, Windows 8 is signifying the beginning of the era of touch interfaces. Windows 8 might not be the total end of the mouse, and quite frankly, for PC Gamers like me, there will have to be a mouse in the picture for quite some time. But perhaps it’s time that the mouse became a novelty for gamers and some graphic artists, and not a necessity for all user/computer interaction. That’s what touch is bringing. A replacement for the mouse. Say what you will, but touching and searching are definitely the faster, more efficient way to use your computer.

I do like Metro, and I do like the apps, and cannot wait to see the release of more apps. Windows 8 will be tough for the early adopters, as all OSes are, but as Metro and other things smooth out, I think Metro is the future, and therefore is here to stay.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Microsoft’s New Groove…

I’ve mentioned in the past how Windows XP was left out for far too long without any major OS updates. The result was when Microsoft finally got off their bums and created a new OS, they felt the need to rush it out, to quell rumours that Windows had become an old, dying, insecure Operating System.

‘Huh? Wha? Huh? When’s supper? Damn whipper-snappers, I could still work if I wanted to, kids these days’. – Windows XP

The result of this rush was the bug filled and terrible version of the Windows OS, that we commonly refer to as ‘Windows Vista’.

It was more like Windows XP’s mid-life crisis complete with subsequent drinking binge, black-out, and then stint at rehab.

At this point sales of the Apple Macintosh were starting to pick-up and sales of Windows based products were starting to teeter off as people looked at Vista and said, ‘I don’t want that, I’ll stick with XP instead, no matter how many viruses my computer picks up’.

Luckily, by then the good folks of Redmond released that it was time to kill off Vista, and the underlying, dying clutching skeletal hands of Windows XP. (Originally named because XP was supposed to be the ideal Windows eXPerience, whereas Vista means, ‘Far-reaching view or prospect, not sure what the view or prospect was except, ‘Let’s get the hell off XP’).

Luckily, Microsoft dropped the silly names, took us back to the good old days of Windows 3.1 (when everyone loved Microsoft and thought they were revolutionary) and named Vista’s successor ‘Windows 7’ (7 is a lucky number after all). Their math of the versions was as follows: Windows 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 3.1; and then comes the trick, Windows 95 becomes 4.0, 98 is 4.5, 2000 is 5.0, ME (another Vista-style failure) is 5.5, XP becomes 6.0, leaving Vista to be 6.5, and therefore Windows 7 is the rightful successor to XP, because if XP is 6 then 7 is the all new one.

Weird branding aside, Windows 7 did become the rightful successor to XP. And since its release in 2009, has been serving the majority of Windows users faithfully for nearly 3 years now, and as such, Microsoft, again falling back to the old release style of Windows 3.1 through 2000/ME (2000 was aimed at the professional crowd and ME was aimed at the consumer market, ME was also bug ridden, and the dramatic last breath of Windows 98, just as Vista was to XP) Microsoft is deciding that 3 years is a good old age for an Operating System, especially in this current era of rapid changes in the Internet, and is already preparing the world for the release of Windows 8. (What? No Windows 7.5? I’m shocked). Of course, by naming conventions I mentioned above, naming Windows 8 ‘Windows 8’ is giving the impression that they’re not just upgrading Windows 7, like Vista merely upgraded Windows XP, no, no, my fair readers. They’re saying adios to Windows 7, and bringing us a dramatically new Windows experience. (Not eXPerience, don’t worry).

Well, today I got my hands on the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. I clearly am opinionated on computers, so a chance to beta test the next generation of my favourite OS and give feedback to Redmond as to what works and what doesn’t work is an exciting opportunity. Plus, I also get to tell you my opinion on the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, which is fun for me.

‘Yay’! – the one guy still paying attention after the explanation on Windows version numbers.

So far, I love it. The metro interface is as much fun to play with as I thought. Plus, from a productivity standpoint, it’s a lot easier to blog like this in WordPress when WordPress takes up the entire screen in the new Internet Explorer 10. IE 10 shows off, as do the new ‘Mail’, ‘Messaging’, ‘Music’, ‘Xbox’, and ‘Video’ apps in Windows 8 the new minimalist ‘Metro’ theme. WordPress bloggers should be happy as well, there is a new WordPress app out already, however it’s only a viewer. (Hopefully that’s temporary, and it becomes a full-fledged editor soon).

Microsoft has already announced plans to kill off the ‘Windows Live’ and ‘Zune’ name brands, and replace them with stream-lined new names.  And indeed, Windows Live is gone, replaced with Microsoft Live, which I’m guessing will be the new cover-all for everything from Windows to Windows Phone to Xbox from now on. Zune is replaced with a stream-lined ‘Music’ and ‘Video’ app. Don’t worry, though, former Zune subscribers, everything I had purchased on Zune that was still attached to my Microsoft Live ID showed up and played perfectly well in the Music and Video apps. Since the video app is still only in beta, I’m willing to look the other way on its lack of HD playback and glitches for now as I’m guessing those’ll be patched up before Windows 8 is loosed on the wild.

An interesting new feature, probably borrowed from Apple is the new ‘Play on XBox’ button that shows up in both the Music and Video apps. If you have an Xbox on your network, your Windows 8 PC will detect it and can indeed shoot media its way with even less fuss than the older Windows Vista/7 + Xbox 360 marriage from before. Quite frankly it worked a lot smoother than I anticipated.

For right now, Windows 8 barely recognises my Windows Phone 7 when I plug it in. But from what I hear, that’s likely to change very fast, but updates will be needed on both sides for this inevitable marriage to occur. (Remember, Windows Phone 7 is where this new Metro phase erupted from). Not to mention that Windows Phone 8 is already being talked about, and that Windows Phone 8 will be much closer related to Windows 8 under the bonnet than Windows Phone 7 is to Windows 7.

I installed Windows 8 on my HP TouchSmart tm2, which, as its name implies is a laptop with a touchscreen, and since the touchscreen does support multi-touch tech natively, it can take full advantage of Windows 8’s Touch Interface, which operates like a dream. My girlfriend, who is very devoted to her iPad even admitted that she thought that Windows 8 had an awesome new interface that she would want to use, and she usually antagonises me for my use of Microsoft products.

And another dig at Apple Mac users, aaaannnd, good, got that out of my system.

All in all, Windows 8 Consumer Preview has been a dream to use, bugs and all, and I cannot wait for the release of Windows 8, which is due Q3 or 4 of 2012. And I will be blogging more about the new interface versus the old interface later.

EDIT: In Defence of Internet Explorer…

After I published my post yesterday, a friend of mine pointed out that the security data I presented was 2 years old. In my defence, security data is hard to come by these days, and I had spent several minutes on Bing to obtain that, as such I was just so happy to have found it that I used it without checking the date. He pointed out (as the loyal Chrome user that he is) that Google Chrome, much like Internet Explorer, or Firefox are constantly updating these days, and most of those updates are security patches. The point I was making there was that Internet Explorer 9 is far more secure than the leaking ship that was IE 6.

‘Ha-ha he made another joke about IE 6! Did… did the elephant just urinate’?

However, most of my objection to Chrome still comes from Google’s lack-luster history with privacy that I’ve hinted at in the past. Recently, it took the United States government to force Google to finally add a ‘Do Not Track’ button to Chrome. Before this Google was tracking and recording all user data from Chrome. Quite frankly, I should’ve mentioned that yesterday, as that, and not security, is the number one reason I refuse to use Chrome, that and for a company that started out saying, ‘Don’t be evil’, these days their corporate model is using your personal data for their billion-dollar advertising agency. Microsoft, meanwhile makes money off of other things… (Mostly patents in the on-going ‘patent war’ that mobile manufacturers are waging).

Also, apparently I didn’t make clear enough that Microsoft was hardly the initiator of the HTML5 movement. Google, Microsoft, and Apple are all big supporters of the HTML5 movement, and Google Chrome was among the first browsers to support it. The main point I was making there, and the point my friend and I agreed on there was that Adobe just needs to go away. (Also, here is an interesting story about Firefox’s HTML5 support).

Although its logo does look like that one villian from Tron…

Also, Patch Tuesday is loved in some PC camps, mostly those of us using and maintaining Windows 7 PCs instead of Windows Vista PCs, since Patch Tuesday can brick Vista PCs on regular occurances. I believe that this is because Vista was a mistake OS. As I said in the original article, XP was left out to dry for far too long, and Microsoft was under pressure to release a new OS to revive the Windows brand, as such Vista was rushed out lacking most of its features, thinking, and testing. Windows 7 is the rightful successor to XP, and is everything Vista should’ve been.

Those of us who celebrate it like this shirt…

The main point of the article, that I stand by, is that you should not judge Windows or Internet Explorer by their old, and far too popular versions. Internet Explorer 9 is NOT Internet Explorer 6, and if you’ve not used IE since the days of 6, or you haven’t used the excellent IE 9 then you shouldn’t knock it until you’ve tried it. And you shouldn’t complain about the flaws of the Windows platform if the last time you used Windows was when the Start button was still green and still said ‘start’. (I.e. in the days of Windows XP). Since Windows 7 fixed the majority of XP’s bugs. (Yes, I skipped Vista on purpose again).

In the end, my friend and I agreed that you can use whatever browser you want, so far as it isn’t Apple’s Safari.

Still the loser!

In Defence of Internet Explorer…

The little halo means it’s good, right?

So, there are several web browsers out there. Only a few of them are worth note though, the biggest competitors right now (statistically) Google’s Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Internet Explorer (which Microsoft brands as ‘Windows Internet Explorer’).

Now, before you Apple fanboys get in a huff, Safari is waaay down in the stats, so therefore doesn’t really count, for much of anything, leaving us with the other three. The fastest growing of the browers is Google’s Chrome.

It’s like an evil Pokéball…

And the browser getting shot at the most by most online communities is Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Is this because it’s actually bad? Or is this because it’s a big (and therefore easy) target? My guess, especially after the release of Internet Explorer 9, is that it’s more the latter now, than the former.

To be fair, Internet Explorer did use to suck. The reasons for this are many, among them, Microsoft’s former neglect of its browser, the fact that IE 6 was out there for just far too long before a replacement came (just like Windows XP), and since IE 6 was the standard for so long, with so little support and so few updates from Microsoft, Hackers came to view XP and IE 6 as big, easy, and open targets. Even until recently, when Windows 7 finally surpassed Windows XP in market share, the XP/IE 6 combo and its many vulnerabilities was Microsoft’s elephant in the room.

Could we at least make it useful and make it get coffee or something? Or maybe make it code IE 7?

But, many of the arguments that Mac owners, in their smug self-righteousness often make against PCs, including the viruses, the instablities, and the vulnerabilties, as well as lack of plug and play support work only for Windows XP and IE 6. Those are no longer the players on the PC half however. So while those arguments may have been ‘hip’ and ‘cool’ back in 2005, they really don’t hold water anymore. The majority of us have moved on to Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 9, which, quite frankly, Internet Explorer 9 is now the most secure browser available (ironically, Chrome is now the least secure). And in terms of webstandards, while IE 6 barely lived up to any, IE 9 is a large part of Microsoft’s movement to kill off Flash, and replace it with HTML5, the new standard coding structure of the internet. (Before any Apple fanbois cry out, Steve Jobs was among the first to say that HTML5 should replace Flash, something most people agreed with since Adobe basically sucks, but Microsoft is fully behind killing Flash).

And the update thing? Well, in the Windows world, we’ve come to celebrate a new tradition called, ‘Patch Tuesday’, wherein every Tuesday Microsoft releases several patches, mostly security patches and updates for everything from Windows Vista and 7 to Microsoft Office, to IE 6.

And while, I will admit IE 9 may not be the fastest of the group, it would appear Microsoft is dedicated to changing that.

So please, Firefox, Chrome, and Apple users, stop kicking at Microsoft. They may have been down for a bit, but there seems to be a new energy at Redmond, and I don’t think the end of the Windows domination is coming anytime soon, and please give Internet Explorer 9 another chance before you scoff at the people using it.