Category Archives: Microsoft

On Microsoft killing the Internet Explorer brand

The problem is, Internet Explorer – while a simply awful piece of technology – will forever be associated with being tied to an equally mediocre OS (Microsoft Windows). Open source it already, and kill off its dependency on Windows. Not rocket science.

Microsoft is killing off the Internet Explorer brand (The Verge)


On Windows 10…

Microsoft spent four years hyping Vista, and it was a colossal, costly failure when it was eventually released. They then hyped Windows 8 as some sort of unified miracle OS for desktop and mobile devices – and it turned out to be a two-headed abomination that had seasoned professionals tearing their hair out. And now, Windows 10 – which Microsoft’s marketing geniuses think they can smooth over Windows 8 bad customer experiences with by skipping a major version number.

How many more expensive, time-wasting chances are folks going to give before realising Microsoft just cannot get it right?

Nice try, Windows…

…but, no thanks 😉

Ubuntu installation disk warning

On Microsoft rebranding Lync to “Skype for Business”…

I can’t take credit for this one, so I’ll merely copy it here – from the comments section of Ars Technica’s article on the topic in question, regarding Microsoft’s continued confusing blanket branding of unrelated groups of products:

“Goddamnit, Microsoft.

Office 2013 Professional Plus vs. Office 365 Pro Plus (but with shortcuts that still say ‘Word 2013’)
OneDrive vs. OneDrive for Business
Skype vs. Skype for Business

Knock it off, douchebags. I don’t care if you call it “Microsoft Ultra Audio Visual Communications Utility 2014 1.0 OSR2b Premium Edition”. Differentiating your products by tacking on “for Business” isn’t a fucking marketing strategy.”

Couldn’t put it any better myself, really.

Microsoft Outlook: UI designers on drugs

Outlook 2010: you want to export a PST of your account contents, you say? Sure – once you’ve flailed around looking for the “Export” button, you in fact achieve this by navigating to “File -> Open”. Then, you click on the “Import” button. Yup, “File -> Open -> Import”. Once you’ve done that, then you’ll see a handy option for performing a file export. Nice.

Outlook Export PST 1

Outlook Export PST 2


Outlook 2010: You’ve got an inbox or whatever containing several thousand items. You make a selection with the mouse of a certain number, and you want Outlook to tell you just how many you’ve got selected. No, you’re not crazy: Microsoft’s flagship email application, the one you hopefully paid a tonne of cash for a license, is incapable of doing this.


Outlook Web App: We’ve been here before, but let’s also highlight another drug-induced design decision. I’m viewing the contents of my inbox, or whatever. I want to perform a search for something in the current folder, but the default search option is to search the entire fucking mail account every time. Just, why?

Outlook Web App default search

Microsoft Surface – the short version

There are many words I could waste on the newly announced Microsoft Surface tablet, reflective of the company’s obsession with Apple Inc, and their increasingly obvious hail mary approach to staying relevant amongst mobile users – a market that I believe has well and truly left Microsoft behind. However, my feelings on it are perhaps best summarized by this:

Twitter search for vapourtrails hashtag

Yes, despite the inane statements and claims originating from certain (somewhat clueless) Microsoft staffers, the thing is vapourware, pure and simple.

If I had one piece of advice to give Microsoft collectively at this point, it would be – to paraphrase Gordon Ramsay – if you’re going to do this, then shut the fuck up and do it. Keeping customers in the dark about price, dates, or if it will even run half-decently at all can only translate to huge amounts of egg on face if or when it doesn’t match their expectations.

If anything, this is the one area they could do with aping Apple a bit more closely…

Skype under Microsoft – would you like additional ads with that call?

Great summary in Ars Technica of recent attempts by the brilliant minds at Microsoft to monetize Skype:

“This is part of a larger blending of Skype properties into the Microsoft advertising network,” Wolff said. “Microsoft is selling display ads on Skype’s websites, the Skype ‘home’ pane in the desktop client, and now in voice calls. How would you feel if Apple or Google did this to your mobile calling experience? It’s invasive and gets in the way of good calling experience.”

There’s never been a better time to check out a Free Software VoIP alternative, really.

The fallacy of Firefox “bloat” apropos of comparisons to Google Chrome

Chrome users seem to use the “bloat” argument against Firefox any chance they get, seemingly without being able to back the claim up with anything of substance. So, these recent benchmarks are rather interesting.

Memory usage under Windows and Mac OS X:,3108-13.html

“Under a heavy load of 40 tabs, Safari for Windows uses the least amount of memory (just 725 MB). Firefox comes in second at 910 MB, followed closely by Opera at 925 and Chrome at 995. Microsoft’s own IE9 uses the most memory (1.75 GB).

Opera is the only competitor to use less than a gigabyte of memory in Mac OS X. Safari comes in a close second, eating just over 1 GB, followed by Firefox at 1.25 GB. Chrome reports a whopping 2.3 GB of usage with 40 tabs open, which is significantly more than any other browser.”


Windows 7 and Ubuntu:,3129-14.html

Tres intéressant.

Skype and Microsoft’s silly Bing Bar

Sure-fire sign that Skype is now another fine Microsoft product – and therefore unsuspecting users can expect to have installed a toolbar for a second-rate search engine as well as have their browser homepage altered:

Skype Bing Bar installation

Good to see nothing has changed with regard to Microsoft treating their current and prospective customers like idiots.

Using the Sun PDF Import OpenOffice extension to collaborate on PDF documents

A seldom-promoted feature of OpenOffice is the ability for users to collaborate on PDFs using the Sun PDF Import extension. It’s a fantastic way to seamlessly share and edit PDF documents, which would otherwise leave you having to send the source file and PDF around (clumsy), or rely on an Adobe Acrobat license to retro-actively edit the PDF (clumsy and expensive).

Here’s how it works. When an OpenOffice document is exported as a “hybrid” PDF, a copy of the source ODF file is embedded in the PDF. When the PDF (not the ODF) is then opened in another instance of OpenOffice with the extension installed, the source file is available for editing: a user can conveniently make changes as needed, and then export the file as a hybrid PDF for further sharing, or, as a standard PDF for end-delivery.

First, grab the Sun PDF Import Extension from here:

First thing you’ll note is that it’s a free download. I imagine the reason for this is that it’s open source, which possibly prevented Oracle from restricting it to people with USD9000 burning a hole in their back pocket.

Anyway, download the extension for the platform of your choice (I use two OpenIndiana x86 machines, and the Solaris x86 installer works just fine), and install it in OpenOffice (goto Tools -> Extension Manager):

OpenOffice Extension Manager

Now, using a new or existing OpenOffice Writer document, export a file as a PDF.

Export as a PDF

In the PDF options window that appears, tick “Create hybrid file”:

Setting PDF export options...

This will export a perfectly normal-looking PDF of your source document – no surprises here:

PDF opened in a PDF reader

However, let’s try using another machine running OpenOffice with same Sun PDF Import extension installed to open up the PDF directly, and see what happens. Simply use the standard File -> Open command in OpenOffice to open the PDF – there is no “importing” or whatever involved.

Et voila: With the extension installed, we can freely edit the PDF as an ODF file, adding new content, images…anything you can do natively in OpenOffice:

Editing a PDF file in OpenOffice

Once done, you can export the file as a hybrid PDF for further collaboration, or simply a standard PDF if you like:

Updated PDF opened in a PDF reader

Great feature, and one that’s particularly useful for people and organisations smart enough to use open source productivity applications as alternatives to the paid, proprietary status quo.