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Palm handles Office Documents better than PocketPC

A bit off-topic but I found this page eye opening. Apparently the Palm and "Documents to go" handles Word and Excel files better than MS's own Pocket Word and Excel

Matthew Lock
Saturday, February 22, 2003

I completely agree.

Joel Spolsky
Sunday, February 23, 2003

I don't think it's that shocking.  There are plenty of Flash tools that kick Flash's butt - such as Swish 2.0

I think this is a good thing.  It will push Microsoft to do better (or buy them out).  Competition - this is exactly what we all want!

Sunday, February 23, 2003

I think it's actually a great example of "Fire and Motion" from one of Joel's articles

The makers of "Documents to go" had time on their side and stuck at it, now they are ahead of MS.

I actually find that concept of Fire and Motion quite inspiring for software development. It means if I stick at something one day it will be better than my competitor's product. (Assuming they stand still ;) )

Matthew Lock
Sunday, February 23, 2003

Actually when I see problems like this I wonder.

Microsoft has such a large and good talent pool.

However, sometimes they seem to drop the ball what is obviously needed.

When the company drops the balls on too many small details, then it is a sign of lost product direction. Some products are thus loosing their direction.

The reason why the documents to go seems better (and I have not used the product) is not due to technical superiority in the coding department. Where the product wins is that someone had to decide what features MAKES SENSE to duplicate in the palm unit. We are talking about making the right choice for features, not HOW GOOD the underlying code is.

It is this decision-making process that seems to get lost in these large companies.

Another really good example of this is that I recently test drove a copy of Alpha 5 a few months ago. Alpha 5 is a ms-access like product. It is a database RAD tool and a direct competitor to ms-access.

The first thing I noticed about Alpha 5 was that a some screens and layouts were not consistent (this is very bad). It was like a new developer came in later on and changed the styles. (in fact, the the pc-world review at,4149,760886,00.asp

said exactly the same thing).

Thus, the alpha 5 folks don’t have the same level of consistency that Microsoft has. I only bring this up because it is obvious that a company like Microsoft definitely does have a first rate formalized design process.  It is obvious that a company like Microsoft has first rate developers.

However, for some reason Microsoft has failed to identify a number of dead obvious tasks that most developers do all the time in ms-access.

Alpha 5 does several of them substantially better then ms-access.

The first good example is how well alpha 5 integrates with ms-word. Virtually everyone I know wants to bring up a record in a form. When looking at the record, you then want whack a button that launches ms Word via a template for a mail merge. We are talking about a single record here. I doubt I need to point out how obvious and useful this task is to write a single letter to particular client.

Alpha 5 does this in a PERFECT and common sense fashion. Ms-access does a extremely rotten job. Of course you can come up with a code solution in ms-access, but you should not have to.

So, for some reason, Microsoft often seems unable to figure out to what detail is important here.

I am not tring to make a rant here, but something in the corporate culture is causing this problem at Microsoft. It does worry me. 

They certainly see the forest, but often they're not seeing the trees.

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada

Albert D. Kallal
Sunday, February 23, 2003

Ditto MS FrontPage, they had a huge lead on most other We Development tools but seemed to totally neglect FrontPage.

Almost everyone I know makes little dbs in Access, but no-one I know uses FrontPage.

Matthew Lock
Sunday, February 23, 2003

that's "most other Web Development tools"

Matthew Lock
Sunday, February 23, 2003

"What is obviously needed" may be "dead obvious" to you, but not necessarily to the folks at Microsoft.

This is not a dig at Microsoft, or you.

Brent P. Newhall
Monday, February 24, 2003

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