A Mac Wish List for the Folks at Microsoft: Page 2

Datamation columnist John Welch has a few things he'd like to ask of the people in Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit.


You Can't Detect What You Can't See: Illuminating the Entire Kill Chain

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Posted February 10, 2006

John Welch

John Welch

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It may not seem like the game community has much to do with the enterprise, but if you look at the main drivers for superior GPU technology that makes all applications look and behave better, it's the gamers you need to thank. You like having a better UI, or a prettier one? Well, you need the graphics muscle to push that. And gamers drive this more than anyone.


Microsoft supporting Mono directly and enthusiastically is such a no-brainer that I'm really shocked that it still hasn't happened.

Mono is far and away a better .Net implementation for non-Windows platforms than Microsoft's Rotor project. But there's only so far it can go without Microsoft's direct help.

This is one that I think would directly benefit the Mac BU, as .Net and Office go together quite well. It also would be great PR for Microsoft -- a way to really extend the benefits of .Net, and give Microsoft a footing in places where they wouldn't have a chance without a huge fight.

In addition, the Mono project has done so much excellent work on its own, that Microsoft wouldn't have to do all the heavy lifting. There's Mono for OS X on PPC, Solaris, Linux, even Linux on S390. There's work being done to bring Mono up on OS X on Intel.

This is not a part-time thing done in some undocumented, spaghetti-code, only-works-with-constant-handholding manner, but a serious project run by grownups. It's too brilliant for Microsoft to ignore, and I think the Mac BU, since they have more practical Unix coding experience than the rest of Microsoft's divisions, could not only do a good job facilitating support for Mono, but directly benefit from it as well.

In the enterprise, the ability to easily have .Net as an option without dealing with platform limitations would make life a lot easier there, as well. People may not like Microsoft, but .Net is a solid, mature platform for business applications, and it's almost dumb that Microsoft isn't working with Mono in an official way to get it on every platform possible.

Work more with Flip4Mac for better WM Codec Support

Windows Media Player for Macintosh is dead. Long live Flip4Mac!

Seriously, while we don't know the extent of the partnership between Flip4Mac and Microsoft, (although if either party wants to talk to me about it, I'm all ears), supporting Windows Media as a codec for Quicktime Player on the Mac is a much better implementation than we've seen to date. It's not perfect, and, in fact, there are things I still prefer Windows Media Player for. But overall, Flip4Mac provides a far better user experience for Mac users, (Scrubbing finally works!) than Windows Media ever did.

But right now, all you have is a better UI for the same restrictions you had in Windows Media Player for the Mac. So why stop there? Work with Flip4Mac to provide support for Windows Media 10, and the upcoming Windows Media 11. Sure, it may never get on the iPod, but so what? It would make a lot of people, like Napster and Yahoo, happy, since they can't, with the current Windows Media limitations, get into the Mac market at all. It also would make the other MP3 player people happy since they'd have new markets.

Do I think it would hurt the iPod's dominance? Not even close. The iPod dominates for reasons that have nothing to do with silliness like DRM and file format. The iPod and iTunes are just the results of foresight and near-perfect implementation. File format is irrelevant to that.

It also would help out organizations like CNN, VH1 and MTV, which are using Windows Media, yet not able to serve the most multimedia-aware customers in the computer market -- Mac users. For companies that want to start using things like videoconferencing and streaming video more, it would let them pick the best product for their needs without having to worry as much about who can use it.

Create and Publish a Public API for Entourage's database and create a plugin API for Entourage

This is a request that I've heard a lot over the years, and it's one that would benefit Entourage users across the board. There are companies working with the Entourage database, like Mark/Space. But it's not like you just grab the info from MSDN and go. Even with the upcoming Sync Services and Spotlight support, being able to work with the Entourage database in a safe, supported manner would allow for more workflow with Entourage beyond what you can get with AppleScript. If nothing else, it would make backup of Entourage data a lot nicer than the current ''all or nothing'' approach.

A database API though would only be half of the story.

The other part would be a plugin API. This is nothing new. The rest of Office has had one for years -- decades even. If done in a safe, secure manner, (since you're not trying to tap into the entire OS with this, safer gets simpler here), then Entourage could reap the benefits that every application that allows plugins gets. You'd get things like Plaxo; RSS reading in Entourage; better IM integration with iChat or non-MSN Messenger systems -- all kinds of things.

Look at the size and breadth of the Outlook plugin market. Ask Adobe how many sales that plugins have helped drive. Heck, they've kept Quark alive if you really think about it. Entourage, even with Sync Services and Spotlight, still is too much of a closed system, and it's overly limited by this.

Remote Desktop Client Improvements

First of all, I love the Remote Desktop Client. I could not do my job without it... literally. It would be impossible. Email, a good web browser, and Remote Desktop are my three critical applications. But, there's some things that are needed here.

For one, I really need the ability to easily open multiple sessions to multiple machines. I sometimes have three to five Remote Desktop sessions going, and it's a pain to get this working well.

Read on to see what Welch has to say about making improvements to Messenger and NTFS support.

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