A bit of this, a bit of that in this week's NSFW column. Some rants, some raves, and something else too.
I'm taking out a bit of time this week to scold my fellow tech journos for their behavior following Microsoft's layoff notices, and I'm also asking them — and some of you — to stop trying to hang the "cult" appellation on Apple users. There's more too.
People losing their jobs is not cause for celebration or gloating
This week Microsoft announced plans to cut almost 8,000 jobs, mostly associated with Microsoft's smartphone division. Some in the tech press took no time at all to exclaim that Microsoft's smartphone ambitions were dead, and I saw more than one roundup of "Microsoft's greatest failures."
Message to my tech brethren and sistren: Try harder not to be such douchebags. If you take any sort of joy, even schadenfreude, in seeing this happen, make no mistake: You're a horrible human being.
Microsoft, Apple and other large companies are very easy to hate and to pile on when they screw up. It's easy to hate a big company. It's harder to sympathize or even understand when something goes wrong. As is the case this week, where 7,800 people lost or are losing their jobs. These things don't happen in a vacuum.
As far as Microsoft's future smartphone ambitions are concerned, I don't think they're doomed. What happened this week is a significant setback, of course. Microsoft and Windows developers certainly have a lot of challenges ahead, but it's a good platform with some solid hardware behind it. To be frank, I'd like to see it succeed, because Apple and Google need the competition.
Enough with the 'cultists' and 'sheeple' nonsense
I see this even in our own discussion forums: The dismissal of Apple users as "sheeple" unable to think for themselves, accepting blindly anything Apple tells them and existing in slavish devotion to a cult.
Every once in a while you might see a genuine, honest-to-gosh mouth-breathing Apple cultist, but at this point, they're the exception, not the rule. The vast majority of us using Apple products are just using Apple products. And we're no more or less inclined to "worship" Apple than we are any other brand.
We should all spend less time focusing on tribalism, frankly. "Us vs. them" may have had important anthropological or evolutionary benefits, but at this point, it's getting counterproductive. Doesn't matter if you like Chevy or Ford, the Red Sox or Yankees, Red or Blue. Let's let false divisions go and learn to co-exist. Kumbaya, etc.
Speaking of Microsoft
The company released Office for Mac 2016 this week, after months of previewing the software. It's being released first to subscribers of Microsoft's Office 365 program, which costs $10 per month. If you want a perpetual license (in other words, if you want to be charged once, rather than paying a monthly subscription fee), you'll need to wait until September to get it.
I've been using Office for Mac 2016 for a while and I'm quite pleased with the changes. Microsoft has streamlined the interface and made it more like its modern Office counterpart on Windows. Word sports a new Design tab that makes it easy to switch layouts, for example, while Excel can recommend charts depending on how your data has been formatted. PowerPoint has a greatly improved Presenter View. There are a lot of other changes, too.
I realize software as a service isn't for everyone; some of us are very wary of paying a smaller amount every month to use software that they used to pay once for, every few years. I understand the reluctance, especially if you're accustomed to "borrowing" your software from an employer rather than paying for it out of your own pocket. But that's the model the industry has moved in, for better or worse.
Having said that, if you want the new Office software now, you don't have a choice: This is the only way to get it until September. The good news is that Microsoft will sign you up for free for 30 days so you can kick the tires. I strongly recommend giving it a try: The new Office is much better, and Microsoft promises to continue to improve it with quarterly updates.