My first reaction to Microsoft’s Thursday announcement that it will release a new version of its Office suite for the Mac in 2010 can be summed up in one word: Why? The very notion of a software suite like Office seems completely out-of-date.
Of course, I know perfectly well the reason Microsoft wants to keep pumping out new versions of Office across all the platforms it serves: The suite accounts for about 30 percent of Microsoft’s overall revenue. But as a buyer, I just don’t get it.
Last weekend a friend stopped by for lunch and to show off his newest purchase—a shiny new SLR camera. Almost as soon as we sat down the questions started. What was the difference between the P and the green square, he asked, pointing to the mode dial. And was using the Portrait mode better than fiddling with the settings himself?
For all the work camera companies have put into making their cameras as easy to use as possible, many people still find the process of getting a good shot shrouded in mystery. That’s partly because, to take advantage of the full creative potential of your camera, you need to take the reins and make some decisions yourself. And that can be scary if you aren’t sure what is happening behind the scenes.
That’s why we regularly feature photography tips and how-to articles on Macworld. Each month we give you stories about the latest camera technologies, managing your photo library, and turning your snapshots into interesting projects—all from a Mac user’s perspective. But we know that digging back through all of those stories—some of which appeared only in print—can be a hassle, if not impossible.
Most of the time when Apple releases an OS update—like Wednesday’s Mac OS X 10.5.8 release—I’ll usually spend that evening examining the update package, trying to find information on what’s included in the update that wasn’t specifically covered by Apple and its release notes. It’s become something of a tradition here at Macworld North—I’ve written detailed looks at 10.5.3, 10.5.4, 10.5.5, 10.5.6, and 10.5.7.
But no more, it seems—at least not for this update. Apple’s own notes do a good job at covering the big details of the items it updated this time out. I did take my usual dive inside the update package’s files to see what else might be hiding there. While there is a large list of files that have been updated, the majority of those changes seem to be minor, such as updates to language files.
I did manage to find a couple things that Apple didn’t mention that I think are worth sharing:
While setting up my new OS X-powered Dell Mini 10v mini-laptop, I wanted to install my favorite text editor, the open source program Smultron. When the Smultron site loaded, I was greeted by the message you may have just seen for yourself:
First of all I’d like to thank you for your interest in my applications. But I have now come to a point where I don’t have the time to spend on the applications that they deserve so I have decided to not release any more versions for the foreseeable future.
Needless to say, this was sad to read—I’ve been using Smultron for many years, and it’s never good news when something you enjoy using reaches its (apparent) end of life.
You may be thinking this is a rant about the new space for advertisements in NNW, but that’s not the case. NNW is a terrific product, and the company is well within its rights to make money off the product. A future paid version of NNW will support ad-free viewing, for those who find the ads offensive. This is interesting, as it’s basically full-circle back to where NNW was a few years ago. (It’s unknown whether those people who bought a paid version of NNW in the past will be granted any sort of discount on the new ad-free version.)
The main reason I’m now looking to replace NetNewsWire is that, going forward, syncing across multiple Macs will only be possible via Google Reader. In the present version, sync was available via NewsGator or MobileMe (.Mac); after testing both services, I settled on syncing via MobileMe.
So what’s it mean for computer users now that Microsoft and Yahoo today finally are announcing their long-anticipated marriage of Microsoft’s Bing search engine and Yahoo’s premium search advertising tools? Will this change our lives?
Actually, I think this partnership will mean far more for Microsoft and Yahoo and their corporate balance sheets than it will for those of us who are technology consumers, and here’s why.