I laughed out loud when I saw this headline on the ars technica Web site: “Monkey see, monkey do: Microsoft launches mobile app site.” It’s so typical of Microsoft in recent years to desperately emulate companies it perceives as its competitors, even at the expense of its own embarrassment.

The move was in response, the article surmised, to Apple’s launch of App Store, a site for downloading iPhone apps through iTunes. It’s beautiful, polished, intuitive and complete—classically Apple.

Microsoft’s site, on the other hand, “brought Mr. Flashy along for the ride, and left Mr. Usability behind,” wrote Emil Protalinski in his article. I wasn’t able to navigate the Microsoft site myself because I don’t have (nor do I want) Silverlight installed. The template I saw looked OK, but how useful can such a site be without the ability to search?

Available applications, of which there are an estimated 18,000 reports the article, can be broken into these categories: all applications, industry, sales force enablement, field force enablement, GPS navigation, and other. Huh? Where are “business, education, entertainment, finance, games, news, productivity, sports, travel and utilities?” (Those are some of App Store's categories.)

Why does Microsoft continue to build applications that are hard to use? In Protalinski’s opinion it’s the rush to compete. But I have another view. I believe that the folks at Microsoft have forgotten how to design applications with the user in mind. When an application is conceived at Microsoft, I'd imagine that a giant team of developers is assembled, the app is apportioned, and groups are assigned by expertise. They go off to their silos to stuff as many features as they can into their portion of the app, hoping for bragging rights over the guy two cubicles over. There isn't the slightest consideration for the first-time user, which is everyone at some time or other. Then, when some ivory-tower manager decides it’s time to launch, all the pieces are glued together—ready or not.

I have no inside experience on the subject, of course. But I invite anyone who does to tell me where I’m wrong.

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About the Author

I am Technical Editor of the [url=http://www.crn.com]CRN Test Center[/url], a kind of computer-centric "Consumer Reports" for retailers and VARs ([url=http://crn.com]www.crn.com[/url]). I bought my first computer in 1980, an Atari 800. In addition to adventure games like Zork, I also played with the hardware, dabbling with ROM dumps and mods to the 810 disk drive. That's also where I learned BASIC programming. After 1984, I moved to PCs, clones and NetWare, and then to Apple IIs and Macs until around 1990. In July of that year I got my first job at a publishing company, supporting about 25 Mac users (including the staff of "MacWeek").

Between '06 and '09 I was editor of [URL=http://stpmag.com]ST&P[/URL], a software testing trade magazine. I also wrote a software [URL=http://www.sdtimes.com/content/testqa.aspx]Test & QA [/URL]newsletter, and was chairman of the [url=http://stpcon.com/]Software Test & Performance conference[/url].

Most probably you don't want to have DirectX neither, nor maybe any OS installed at all, for that matter. But computers need software in order to operate! Without it, they're as good as furniture, even less.

Bye the way, it is impossible to tell if there is a single sentence where you are right!

Such an ignorant is not aware of the undeniable historical fact that if it was not for Microsoft and Bill Gates in person, you would be writing this letter with a typing machine today and use fax to deliver it.

You would be seeing real computers only if you'd be lucky enough to be working for state governments or some military intelligence.

But, hey Bill! It's your fault for making it affordable for all kinds of people too,
-now suffer, 'cause you deserve it. :')